A Student Publication of the Torah Academy of Bergen County

Parshat Emor          17 Iyar 5764              May 8, 2003              Vol.13 No.31

In This Issue:

Dr. Joel Berman
Uri Carl
Sam Reinstein
Shlomo Yaros
Rabbi Chaim Jachter

This week's issue is sponsored by the Yaros Family in honor of the Bar Mitzvah of their son and brother, Dani Yaros.
This issue is also sponsored by the Yaros family in memory of Neal's mother, Malka Faiga bas Naftali Yisroel A"H.


Count Three Clicks
by Dr. Joel Berman

"Usefartem Lachem.," "And you shall count for yourselves." (Vayikra 23:18). During these days of Sefira we mourn the death of Rabi Akiva's students who were punished for their lack of Derech Eretz. Torah law hardly considers lack of Derech Eretz worthy of capital punishment. It is therefore very hard to understand why Hashem would kill 24000 students of Rabbi Akiva simply because "they didn't treat each other with respect." Obviously, something needed to be corrected.
We spent the first few days of advanced infantry training getting our gear together and in target practice. I found it very frustrating that no matter how carefully I aimed my rifle, the bullet always seemed to hit the target somewhere to the left of where I aimed. This problem became magnified over long distances. When I expressed my frustrations to my company commander he said to me, "No problem Berman, you just need a COURSE CORRECTION!" With that he took out of his pouch a special key which he inserted into the gunsight of my Galil rifle. He counted just three clicks and declared the problem corrected. He was right. The rifle shot straight.
Rabbi Rekowsky shlita explains that the death of Rabbi Akiva's student was also a course correction of sorts. Although these students were Torah giants, they had a small problem in Derech Eretz. As small as this problem may have been some 2000 years ago, Torah in its purest form could not have been transmitted to us long distance without this awesome course correction.
It is now our turn to use these days of Sefira to effect small changes on our own Derech Eretz. With a little patience it's possible to see how a small course correction can have huge ramifications.

Sanctifying Hashem
by Uri Carl

In Parshat Emor, the Torah states (22:32) that one must not desecrate God's Name and that God will rest his Shechinah in Bnei Yisrael. In the next Pasuk, it says, "Hamotzei Etchem Meeretz Mitzrayim Lehiyot Lachem Lailokim, Ani Hashem," "[I am] the one who took you out of Egypt to be your God; I am God." But why does God say that He took Bnei Yisrael out of Egypt immediately after He discusses the Shechinah and desecration of His name?
Rashi answers that God took Bnei Yisrael out of Egypt on condition that they sanctify Him. Similarly, Ramban explains that because God redeemed Bnei Yisrael from Egypt, we are His slaves, and therefore must sanctify Him.
I would like to suggest another answer, similar to Rashi's. The reason why we must worship God and perform His Mitzvot is that He took us out of Egypt. The Mitzvot are exclusively ours because they relate to the fact that God took us out of Egypt, and not because He created the world (a basis that would apply to all nations). Therefore, the first Dibra, about worshipping Hashem, identifies Him as the One who took us out of Mitzrayim. Similarly, Rav Chaim Soloveitchik says that the reason why the Rambam in Sefer Hamitzvot does not record Zechirat Yetziat Mitzrayim as a distinct Mitzvah is that it is included under the Mitzvah of Kriyat Shema. The theme of Kriyat Shema is accepting Hashem as our God: The first Parsha talks about Kabbalat Ol Malchut Shamayim, accepting Hashem's commandments; the second Parsha relates to Kabbalat Ol Mitzvot, accepting the Kingship of God; and the third Parsha discusses Yetziat Mitzrayim. Thus, Kriyat Shema consists of a progression: We accept Hashem's commandments because He is our King, and we accept Him as King because He took us out of Mitzrayim. As the three Parshiot of Shema demonstrate, we alone have this Mitzvah of accepting Hashem, because only we were taken out of Mitzrayim. Therefore, the Torah reminds us of this fact after discussing Hashem's Shechinah and Name. If we keep this in mind while worshipping Hashem, it will allow us to love and fear Him, and to truly appreciate His Torah and Mitzvot.

Can You Sanctify Him?
by Sam Reinstein

In Vayikra 22:32, Hashem presents the prohibition of chilul Hashem, desecrating His name: "You shall not desecrate My holy Name". The verse concludes with the positive commandment of kiddush Hashem, to sanctify his name: "I should be sanctified among the children of Israel". The Gemara (Sanhedrin 74a) explains that there are circumstances where a person is obligated to give up his life rather than commit a transgression and desecrate His name. If someone is asked to commit one of the "big three" sins of murder, idolatry or adultery, he must sacrifice his life rather than commit the sin, whether in public or in private. This sacrifice sanctifies Him. If a person is forced to do any other sin of the Torah, he should commit the sin rather than give up his life, except in two cases. First, if ten Jews are present, he must give up his life rather than commit any sin, if he is being forced to sin only to desecrate the Torah. Secondly, during a government act of religious persecution, a person must give up his life to avoid violating even a religious custom, even in private.
Hopefully, most of us will never have to face such a life and death situation. How then does one fulfill the commandment of sanctifying Hashem's name, and not desecrating It? The Rambam in Hilchot Yesodai Hatorah describes two ways we can fulfill the commandment in our daily lives.
Someone can sanctify Hashem's name when faced with the choice of whether or not to commit a sin. If he refrains from committing the sin, not because of personal gain or peer pressure, but only out of his love for Hashem, his action sanctifies Hashem's name. When a Jew acts for this reason, even in private, he fulfills the commandment of kiddush Hashem.
Secondly, when a person acts in such a manner that the people around him are impressed by him as a ben torah, he engages in an act of public kiddush Hashem. This is the type of conduct that we can all perform during our daily lives.

Why the Second Day?
by Shlomo Yaros

There was a famous dispute between Chazal and the Tzedukim regarding the starting point of Sfirat HaOmer. The Torah states that we should start counting the Omer "Mimachorat Hashabbat." The Tzedukim take this Pasuk literally and believe that "Mimacharat Hashabbat" means the day after Shabbat; in other words, every year we start counting the Omer on Sunday. Chazal on the other hand, understand "Shabbat" to mean Yom Tov- more specifically, the first day of Pesach. Thus, Chazal believe that we start counting the Omer on the second day of Pesach.
A prominent opinion as to the purpose of Sfirat HaOmer is to connect Pesach, which symbolizes Bnai Yisrael's freedom from Egypt, to the culmination of that freedom, Shavuot, when Bnai Yisrael received the Torah. Since the Sfira doesn't represent this connection between Pesach and Shavuot, why do we not start counting from the beginning of Pesach, with the beginning of the redemption, instead of waitng till the next day? The Sefer Hachinuch answers that the first day of Pesach is in its own category because it was such an extraordinary miracle that the Jews attained their freedom after 210 years of slavery. Therefore, the joy of the first day of Pesach cannot be joined with the other joy of the continuation of the redemption (as symbolized by the counting of the Sfira), and therefore, we start counting the Omer on the second day of Pesach.
The Or HaChayim explains differently. He believes that we were only permitted to start counting in a completely pure environment. Therefore, since we originally left Egypt, a very impure place, on the first day of Pesach, we are not permitted to count the Sfira that day. We may add to this and say that since it is preferable to count the Omer at night, as clearly proven by the Shulchan Aruch's ruling that the Berachah on the counting is only recited at night, we had to have been free on the night of the first day of Pesach in order for us to count on that day. Since we were still in the clutches of the Egyptians on the night of the fifteenth of Nissan, the first night of Pesach, we only start counting the Sfira on the first day completely out of our freedom- the second day of Pesach.
This week's Parsha, however, shows that at least on an ideal level, the environment for the mitzvah of Sfira goes beyond just the isuue of purity. The Torah in Perek 23 Pasuk 10 states that when Bnai Yisrael reach Eretz Yisrael, there will be a requirement to cut the first of the grain and bring it to the Kohen. This requirement must be fulfilled on the second night of Pesach, and will be signified by the bringing of a Korban made of barley in the Beit Hamikdash. This Korban signifies the beginning of the fifty days of the Omer up to Shavuot. Since the Torah clearly states that this Korban could only be brought in Eretz Yisrael, it is clear that the ideal performance of the Mitzvah of Sfirat HaOmer can only be done in Eretz Yisrael. May we be Zocheh to see many more Jews in Eretz Yisrael in the near future, and may Hashem privilege us with the coming of Mashiach allowing us to perform Mitzvah of Sfirat HaOmer in the most ideal fashion.


Staff at time of publication:
Editors-in-Chief:  Ely Winkler, Willie Roth
Executive Editor: Jerry M. Karp
Publication Editor: Jesse Dunietz
Publishing Manager: Andy Feuerstein-Rudin
Publication Managers: Orin Ben-Jacob, Moshe Zharnest
Business Manager: Etan Bluman
Webmaster: Ariel Caplan
Staff: Duvie Barth, Uri Carl, Mitch Levine, Josh Markovic, Moshe Schaffer, Chaim Strauss, Avi Wollman
Faculty Advisor: Rabbi Chaim Jachter

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