Parshas Kedoshim 5776
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May 13, 2016
Volume 12 Issue 25
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Dvar Torah

   Attaining Holiness

  By Rabbi Yechiel Biberfeld, Rosh Kollel

"Do not hold hatred toward your brother in your heart..." "Do not take revenge or bear a grudge against the children in your nation, and you shall love your fellow Jew like yourself, I am Hashem."
Let us try to visualize what the Torah is demanding from us. A fellow Jew does something wrong to me, something that justifies my being angry at him and hating him, yet the Torah says I may not hold hatred in my heart. Moreover, I may not even take revenge to at least "get even." I may not even bear a grudge in my heart when I am courageous enough to show kindness to him. The Torah goes yet further and demands me to love him like I love myself. This certainly sounds like something beyond human capability. To be sure, this level is quite sublime, as Mesilas Yeshorim (Rav Moshe Chaim Luzzato, RaMCHa"L, 1700-1737) writes (chapter 11),
"Hate and revenge are very difficult for man's spiteful heart to escape, for in view of his being extremely sensitive to insult, and suffering great anguish because of It; revenge being the only thing which will put him at rest, is sweeter than honey to him. Therefore, if it is within his power to abandon what his nature dictates and to overlook the offense so as not to hate the one who ignited hatred within him, nor to take revenge on him when the opportunity to do so presents itself, nor to hold a grudge against him, but to forget the whole affair and remove it from his heart as if it had never occurred - if he can do this, he is strong and courageous. Such conduct is easy only for the ministering angels, among whom the aforementioned traits do not exist, not for 'dwellers in houses of clay whose roots are in dust' [i.e. human beings].
But the King has decreed in no uncertain terms, 'Do not take revenge and do not bear a grudge against the children of your nation.'"
My rebbe, Horav Mattisyahu Salamon, shlit"a (see Matnas Chelko, Mesilas Yeshorim) once exquisitely illustrated the exact situation the Torah is referring to. Reuven is moving to a new house just down the street from his old house. His neighbor, Shimon, owns a mid-size truck that he needs for his profession but is just parked outside his house on Sundays. Reuven politely asks Shimon if he would be able to borrow his truck the following Sunday to help move his belongings to his new house. Shimon says, "No, I don't like lending out my truck." Reuven proceeds to shlep all his belongings with a baby carriage that he has handy. Back and forth, one trip after another Reuven continued all day, lugging his belongings in his baby carriage. As he passes Shimon's house, he sees Shimon looking out his window, showing no remorse at all. Halfway through the day it begins to rain and still Reuven sees Shimon's eyes staring at him coldly every time he passes by. Finally the job is done and Reuven goes to sleep that night exhausted. The next morning he hears a knock at his door. It is his neighbor, Shimon. "Good morning, Reuven. My daughter just came over with my new grandson and I noticed you have a baby carriage. I'm wondering if I can borrow it..."
In truth, for someone in Reuven's position not to react with anger and revenge, or at the least bear a grudge, seems humanly impossible, as the Mesilas Yeshorim described above. How then can the Torah command us not to? And even more so, we are required to love such a neighbor as ourselves?!
The answer is revealed in the final two words of the posuk: "Ani Hashem," "I am Hashem." I am Hashem Who commanded this in My Torah and thus made it possible to overcome these "natural" feelings. By believing that everything that happens is only from Hashem, a Jew can attain this angelic level of not hating, of not wanting to take revenge, of not bearing a grudge, and even of getting to love the person.
Mesilas Yeshorim goes on to explain that the yetzer hora inflames the heart of a person to always remember the wrong done to him by another. The yetzer hora convinces him that even if he will overcome the feeling of hatred, he should not go out of his way to do a favor for him. Or at least do not do it graciously. This is how the yetzer hora tries to capture us into his net. The only way to combat his urges and reach the level the Torah expects of us is with the understanding of "I am Hashem." I am Hashem Who causes all the wrong to happen to each and every person. If it was not decreed by Me, Hashem, no person can wrong another. With this belief inculcated into our senses and consciousness, we can overcome the yetzer hora's advances and reach a level even greater than that of the angels. Indeed, one who can possess this level of emunah and thus not hate, not take revenge or not bear a grudge, and even love his fellow Jew who wronged him, is one who has attainedkedusha, holiness. He has fulfilled the positive commandment of "V'heyisem Kedoshim "You shall be holy."

Dvar Halacha
Laws of Sefiras Ha'Omer 
Part 1
 By Rabbi Yochanan Eskenazi

The Torah [Vayikra 23:15- 16] says: "U'sefartem lachem me'macharas ha'Shabbos mee'yom havayeschem es omer ha'tenufa sheva shabasos temimos t'heyena. ad mee'macharas ha'Shabbos ha'sheveeis tisporu chameeshim yom (You shall count for yourself from the day after Shabbos; from the day when you bring the Omer of the waving, seven weeks they shall be complete. Until the day after the seventh week you shall count fifty days)". Elsewhere [Devarim 16:9] the Torah writes "Shivah shavous tispor luch (seven weeks you shall count)".

During the time of the Bais Hamikdash, when the korban omer was brought on the 16th of Nissan, there was a mitzvah me'deoraisa to count 49 days from the day the korban omer was brought until Shavous. Nowadays, that we sadly do not have the Bais Hamikdash, there is a machlokes whether the mitzvah to count remains a mitzvah me'deoraisa or is a mitzvah me'derabanun [enacted as a remembrance to what was done in the Bais Hamikdash]. Most Poskim hold that it is me'derabanun (Be'ur Halachah 489:1 s.v. lis'por).

The Sefer Hachinuch [306] explains that the reason for this mitzvah as follows: The primary reason why the Jewish people were redeemed from Mitzrayim was in order to accept the Torah and to keep it. Therefore, Hashem commanded us to count, beginning the 1st day after we were redeemed [which is the 16th of Nissan, the Jewish people left Mitzrayim on the 15th of Nissan] up until the time that the Torah was given at Har Sinai [on Shavuos], in order to show how much we anticipate reaching the time when the Torah was given. Similarly, the Medrash explains that the korban omer consisted of animal food [barley] and the korban that was brought on Shavuos consisted of human food [wheat]. Hashem was showing the Jewish people when they left Mitzrayim they were on a low spiritual level comparable to an animal. Only after they received the Torah were they considered people. Therefore, when counting we count "to the omer" to realize that without Torah we are comparable to an animal (Aruch Hashulchan 489:3).

Men are obligated to count (Shulchan Aruch 489:1). Women are exempt, since this is a mitzvas asei she'hazman grama (time bound mitzvah) (Mishneh Berurah 489:3). The common custom is that women do count, similar to other mitzvos asei she'hazman grama that women generally perform [e.g. listening to shofar, eating in the succah etc.] (Aruch Hashulchan 489:4). The Mishneh Berurah [489:3] writes that the custom where he lived was that women count, but without reciting a brachah, since they generally do not understand what they are counting and also many times forget to count. It is important to note that many Poskim hold that nowadays these reasons do not apply since it is common to have many reminders [e.g. sefiras ha'omer calendars and electronic reminders]. Accordingly, some say women should count with a brachah (Koveitz Halachos 1:2 & ftnt. 2). Children, who have reached the age of chinuch, should be taught to count. A child who skips a day should continue counting without a brachah, just like an adult (Koveitz Halachos 1:3).

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