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| Published: April 15, 2021
11:00 am Wednesday morning The “Yom Hazikaron” siren is ringing in all of our ears , minds and hearts. You can feel the unity. People stop their cars on the road, get out and stand at attention in respect and memory of our brothers and sisters. Personal prayers are sent out into the air in response. No more killing! No more death! No more war. Psalms are read with clear intent. Two minutes of prayer and unity that we hope can be continued and brought into our coming year of life. Two minutes and I think I understand what is going on in the world at large. Do I need to asses our national situation at home and abroad? There is no way that I can truly rationally know what and why it is happening. There are hidden secrets in the heart of Hashem, as there is hiddenness in the hearts of kings. So I need “Shlomo Hamelech,” King Solomon, to remind me (Proverbs 25. 2-3) that the world is made up of the highest heights from the Heavens and the deepest of the depths on earth. So what is it that can I understand?
In response I turn inward. Is everyone standing together with the same questions and answers? Absolutely not! Why am I so moved? Am I really part of something greater than me? The answer is clearly yes. Yes by infinite divine design and yes by choice. It’s a process.
Many members of our 60’s generation, as well as the ones following, allowed ourselves to be led astray to think that the most important goal for me was to answer the question, “What are my personal accomplishments in life?” As time went on, many of us realized that that is not at all what our purpose for being here is. It can’t just be all about me. Any assessment of our “tachlis,” purpose has to be all inclusive. What have I accomplished for myself, must include my family, my friends, my community and of course ,the “Klal,” our society as a whole ? Without all that I am simply being selfish. Yes I might be doing some “nice things,” but is it truly serving the world at large or is it simply put, do I do it for myself? Am I really ready to be a light to the entire world?
This week’s Torah portions of Tazria and Metzora, ( Vayikra Chapters 12-15) the present 7 week period in our calendar year, Sefirat Ha’omer, as well as our daily lives, all deal with spiritual impurities. Conceptually for many of us “tum’a,” spiritual impurity, is obscure. Can we identify that which is “ta’me” and what is “tahor?” Seems to me that based on the previous teachings of “Shlomo Hamelach” making these positive identifications is confusing at best. Thanks God has offered us the opportunities and situations where we can discern that which is valuable to us both as individuals and for the “klal.” However we need to be aware that it must happen with honesty and inner truth. Remember, we are only seeing part of a very big picture called, “God’s World.” Next time you are looking at a painting, please take the time to see only one portion of the painting. Chances are that piece will have its own beauty and value, yet without seeing the entire painting I really have no true sense of what is going on.
In an effort to obtain some hands on clarity, let’s look at the complications of understanding closer to home. You know when someone tells you that you are special, you can always say thank you and admit that , yes, sometimes I am special. Upon further internal investigation, I can realize that there can always be some internal motivation of selfishness .As much as I am happy that I was special for you , nevertheless, I realize that I just couldn’t get the highest and deepest level and be “mevatel.” I couldn’t get rid of that last bit of non-humble behavior. That is the “tum’a,” that confronts us daily. Even being simply selfish, as sweet as it may be, can only can take us to dark places, places we are not supposed to enter. I believe that one of the reason we have still have this “sinah” situation in the world is because so many of us believe there is nothing more important than me. Yes, I care about others, but ultimately, when push comes to shove I need to be thinking about myself .Is it good for me? Yet this is only one of the presentations of “tuma,” that confront us daily. So how can we respond if it is so difficult to always clearly identify my enemy.
One thing that is clear, although I may not always be able to identify “tum’a”, I can recognize the effect of the outcome on an individual basis. I see it in this week’s readings. We have all seen it over the past 15 months. When there is contact with “tuma” you are mamash alone. This year so many of us spent periods of week alone in our homes, in hospitals, and hostels and were faced with being physically separated from the “kahal.” These were valuable opportunities to honestly connect with what it meant to be alone.
That’s part of the message of “tum’ah,” spiritual impurity. The Torah teaches us that when I am impure I must separate myself . It divides us from the rest of the “kahal, “community . This separation is imposed on us. Whether it was tum’ah from contact with the dead, leprosy, a woman’s period cycle , or the blood of birth, the command always was, that individual is removed from the “Klal” in many ways, both physically and spiritually. Thankfully, the time period of separation in the Torah always being, 7 days. Always including a Shabbat. Always including an immediate opportunity to experience, “taharah,” spiritual purity. This also gives us an opportunity to honestly appreciate the potential heights we can reach for and connect with each Shabbat. The Holy Sloinmer Rebbe teaches that on Shabbat there is no room for “tum’a.”
Who wants to be taken out of the “klal?” Yet so often we all voluntarily takes ourselves out. Some of us do so in the name of a “mitzvah.” Some do it spitefully with anger and deceit. Some for power, other from a deep place of insecurity. I must always remember if I take myself out the “klal,” I am mamash alone. I am on my own. I need to unlearn that selfishness now and replace it with only selfless caring loving behavior towards all mankind. Wow! Imagine how awesome that is going to be when it finally happens!
So there is hope. We can all get there together soon. In the meantime, let’s thank Hashem for the honor to have been personally invited to live in the Holy land and to have our doors wide open for all of our brothers and sisters who really want to call Israelhome. As Reb Menachem Mendel of Vitebsk, zt”l ( his yarzheit was yesterday, Rosh Chodesh Iyar) said each and every day that he was blessed to live in Eretz Yisrael, “Thank you Hashem for this great gift. Today I have made it home. Today I have the “z’chut” to make Aliyah to our Home Eretz Yisrael.” Home. Home is where I want to be! There is no place like home. No clichés at all. Simple selfless truth. You are all welcome. Please join us!
May we all be blessed to feel an absolute part of the holy “klal.”
Chag Atzmaut Sameach