Shemini: No Fear!
I hope everybody enjoyed their Pesach.
I think this year was the best Seder night that we had so far, with everybody enjoying it. We also got to spend 24 hours in Jerusalem, and I was able to wake up at 4:30am to daven at the Kosel at the earliest minyan possible. When we arrived there, it was amazing to see the entire place packed! That took me by surprise. However, there is nothing like the few minutes leading up to sunrise there. All you hear is the noise of thousands of people davening at once, and then slowly but surely, as the sun rises and people begin their Shemoneh Esrei, you hear nothing but silence. Then, after a few minutes, you hear the first minyan to finish, begin again, and slowly things pick up with different tunes to Hallel. It’s something I highly recommend.
What I don’t recommend, is taking your nearly 3 year old son to Akko. He gets a kick out of hitting people who he likes and saying “I pautch (hit) you!” I don’t know why… too much testosterone maybe. Either way, as we were walking back to the bus station, we passed an Arab man which a rather large gut… and… well… you can guess what he did. WHACK! Right in the stomach; followed with his traditional, “I pautch you!” Needless to say, my wife and I were standing there with our eyes wide open, apologizing to him left, right, and center. He laughs it off, smiles and says, “He’s a cute kid!”… Thankfully, another Intifada was averted.
“And Moshe said to Aharon: Go close to the altar” (Vayikra 9:7)
Rashi cites the Toras Kohanim that Aharon was afraid to go close to the altar out of embarrassment. Moshe then said to him, “Why are you embarrassed? For this reason you were chosen!”
Rav Yitzchok of Volizhin explained that, Aharon, in his humility felt that he was not worthy of being the Kohen Gadol. It took Moshe to explain to him that it was because of this humility that he was chosen to be the Kohen Gadol. While, Moshe understood Aharon’s reluctance, he had to explain to Aharon that as long as he is sincere in his efforts, and he continues to do what he does, he will be successful. After all, this is his job in the world.
Over Pesach, there was a knock on the door, and somebody in English asked my son if she could speak to his father or mother. So… off to the door I went, where I met two women. One of them handed me a pamphlet and said something like, “This is something that contains versus of your scriptures to help you in times of need”. It was all in Hebrew with standard questions like “Do you feel like G-d doesn’t care about you?”, with verses from different areas of the Torah, and of course an address in the States who will be more than happy to send you more information. By default, if a person is nice to me, I’m nice to them, and since I wasn’t expecting this, I took the pamphlet, said ‘thank you’, closed the door, and called Yad L’Achim which monitors and tries to stop missionary activity. Somebody else in the community told me that his sister-in-law, who speaks a little English, answered the door when they visited. She heard their shpiel, read the questions, and (being so Israeli) said, “So… you have questions. What do you want? Do you need answers? We have answers…”
Anyhow, it quickly became the topic of conversation over breakfast, and I had to give a brief history of Christianity to my children, who know nothing of it. I’m thankful for the missionaries, because they gave me an opening to discuss this with the kids, who already think its pure nonsense.
Where was I?
As we were discussing them, I told the kids that we do have what to learn from them. Being that when we truly believe in what we are doing, we should never feel embarrassed about it. When it comes down to doing Torah and mitzvos, we should never try to hide it and feel ‘humble’ about it. We are to do what we are supposed to do, and do it as best as we can and if other people don’t like it… well… that’s their problem, not ours.
Have a great Shabbos