Rabbi Yehuda (Leonard) Blank MS, BCC
Director of Programming, Chaplaincy Commission and External Affairs
Rabbinical Alliance of America/Igud HaRabbonim
* Thursday, July 14th,2022, Tammuz 15,5782*
SANCTITY OF LIFE
CHARACTER TRAITS, BOTH POSITIVE AND NEGATIVE CAN BENEFICIAL
BECHAWL LEVAWVECHAW WITH ALL YOUR HEART
AHARON- LOVER OF HIS FELLOW JEW
CHILDREN LEARNING AND CARING ABOUT MIDOS TOVOS VS CHILDREN
FINDING JOY IN COMMITTING TERRIBLE CRIMES
Today there are so many things happening bringing fear to the masses. I have spoken about it in previous articles. I do not discuss political concerns, nor pointing fingers as to whom is responsible or what can be done. However, there is so much to be proud of our yeshiva education, parental and family upbringing and the relationships of our rabbis, rebbetzins and chaplains addressing the concerns and needs of our Torah way of life- without loshon harah and sinas chinam. For those who have news reports brought to them via the computer are inundated with information of serious crime often happening in broad daylight. What is unsettling is the types of crime being committed by children and teenagers. Carjackings, robbery, use of guns, other weapons and finding committing crimes with people being hurt or dying even with a smile on their faces. Just last week a group of children beat up a man in his 70’s hit him so hard with traffic cones he fell to the ground hitting his head and he ultimately died. This week, it was reported the parents of two of those children aged 10 and 14 seek an attorney before turning themselves in which they did. What has happened or happening in society today? It is mind boggling the lack of care for others and for each other. Is everyone like that? Of course not, but our Torah way of life promotes just the opposite of what we are hearing or reading about so much.
From Darash Moshe A selection of Rabbi Moshe Feinstein’s choice comments on the Torah. Artscroll Judaica Classics Mesorah Publications Ltd Parsha Chukas Pages 253- 254. “Zos Chukas HaTorah- This is the decree of the Torah (19:2) This wording means that this is the decree governing the entire Torah, for it does not say, Zos Chukas Hatawhawraw, This is the decree of the purification, as it says (Shemos 12:43), Zos Chukas Hapawsach This is the decree of the pesach-offering.
This language is meant to teach us that the entire Torah is similar to the Red Cow, in that it purifies those who are ritually contaminated, and it contaminates those who are ritually pure. That means that every character trait, both positive and negative, if used properly to fulfill the mitzvos of H, will be beneficial, and if misused, will be detrimental. For example, one must be humble for himself but proud for others. One must be very careful with his friend’s honor and imagine that his friend is particular about his honor and ensure that he be honored in keeping with his standing. Accordingly, a person can serve H with the character trait of humility, by not caring about his personal honor, and with the trait of haughtiness, by being concerned with his friend’s honor as if his friend were a haughty person, with great need for honor.
The same can be applied to the trait of generosity. When giving charity, one should give a tenth- and even more- of his income, but when it comes to one’s friend’s money, one must be stingy, to the extent that he will consider the theft of one penny to be equivalent to taking his soul. If one does the opposite, i.e., by caring about one’s own honor and one’s own money, but not care about one’s friend’s he has misused both character traits. That is the Talmudic interpretation of bechawl levawvechaw, with all your heart, which the Rabbis interpret as meaning: with both your inclinations (Berachos 64a). We must serve H at all times, sometimes with good inclination, which represents the complimentary character traits, and sometimes with the evil inclination, which represents uncomplimentary character traits.
With this introduction, we can understand the Gemara (Berachos 64a) which states: Torah scholars increase peace in the world, as it says (Yeshayahu 54:13) And all your children will be students of H, and your children will have abundant peace- do not read [Bawnyich] “your children,” but [Bonayich] “your builders”.
On the other hand, if someone is naturally careful not to steal, because he appreciates the value of money, he will not likely to give charity. The conflict between abstaining from theft and giving charity will be students of H, and your children will have abundant peace, meaning that your students those who learn Torah, will have peace, and this apparent contradiction will cause them no problem.
Another explanation of the relationship of the Red Cow to the entire Torah may be as follows: All the mitzvos of the Torah must be kept in accordance with the reason and the rulings of the sages of the generation, which is in keeping with the authentic tradition of the Torah, and not the way one himself understands it. Sometimes what appears to an individual as being contaminated or prohibited opposite, and even a chillul H, is really the opposite, and what one may believe to be good is in fact, evil. This is possible in every mitzva. We must follow faithfully the rulings of the sages of the generation. This is hinted at in the comparison to the Red Cow, the rules of which are seemingly contradictory, but must adhered to faithfully.”
From Rabbi Yissocher Frand on the Parsha Artscroll Series Mesorah Publications Ltd Parshas Chuksas Parts from Pages 228-229. “News of Aharon’s Death Vishma Hakina Ami Melech Arawd…Vayilawchem BeYisrael -And the Canaanite king heard… and he waged war with Israel (21:1) When the Canaanite king heard the news, he decided that the time was auspicious for an attack on the Jewish people. What news did he hear? The Talmud tells us (Rosh Hashana 3a) that he heard about the death of Aharon and the subsequent departure of the Clouds of Glory. (continued) The Ateres Mordechai explains that Aharon was the glue that held the Jewish people together. The Mishneh states (Avos 1:12) that Aharon “loved peace and pursued it, loved people and brought them near to the Torah.” He reached out to people with a boundless, embracing love, and they could not help but respond.
Whenever Aharon saw a Jew doing something wrong, he did not respond with anger. He did not throw stones. He did not berate and criticize the transgressor. He greeted him with a smile, with an expansive “Good morning.” He asked how he was and beamed with genuine pleasure when the news was good. When they parted, the transgressor felt warmed by Aharon’s love. He felt good. And the next time he had the opportunity to sin, he held back. “How can I do such a thing?” he asked himself. “Aharon, who was so warm and loving to me, would be upset if I did such a thing. Perhaps I shouldn’t do it.” In this way, Aharon drew people to the Torah an inspired them to do teshuvah.’’
(Continued) Aharon pursued peace. He was the epitome of peace and acceptance. When Moshe came to Egypt as the messenger of H, Aharon did not have the slightest fleeting touch of jealousy. His joy was genuine. He was at peace with the situation, with his brother with everyone else in the world.
He also did everything in his power to spread peace among other people, when he knew of two people that were quarreling, he would approach one and say, “I know that the other fellow wants to make up with you, but he is just too embarrassed to come to you. If you are willing to make up with him, I will be happy to serve as the go-between.” The person undoubtedly accepted the offer of the illustrious Aharon. Then he went and told the same thing to the other fellow, and that was it. Peace!” Unfortunately, after Aharon died, the Clouds of Glory disappeared and there was a deterioration of peace amongst and between the Benei Yisrael”.
“The Avos d’Rabbi Nassan observes that when Aharon died, “the entire House of Israel mourned”- both men and women. But when Moshe died, “the sons of Israel”- the men only mourned. Moshe loved the Jewish people with all his heart, but his role was teacher and judge. He had to show the people the way, to correct their errors, to issue uncompromising judgments. The people respected, admired, revered, and loved him, but there was a certain inevitable distance in the relationship. But Aharon was all love, and the people responded with unreserved love of their own.”
Aharon also was loved and mourned by both the men and the women because he brought shalom bayis, tremendous peace, tranquility, understanding and love between husband and wife. Aharon found the right words and actions where the husband and wife could truly find peace and happiness between each other.
Shalom does not come easy. Aharon HaKohen did not wave a magic wand. He made every effort to bring shalom/peace amongst and between each other.
Parents can be wonderful role models for their children and for each other. Rav Matisyahu Solomon shlita Mashgiach of Beis Medrash Gohova, Lakewood, N.J. in a previous Chofetz Chaim Heritage Tisha B Av film included in his comments about Aiyan Harah which often stems from jealously. What we say, how we say things can have an impact on shalom/peace.
There are so many opportunities of Kiddush H, of enhancing achdus. Being a chaplain can put him/her sometimes in an awkward position when a person he/she is ministering to starts speaking language that is not becoming of anyone but is part of one’s typical speech or wants to have an adversarial discussion which could be controversial. Chaplains are often put to task on how to respond. Rabbis and rebbetzins often can be brought into discussions that could lead to machlokes and are often the peace maker between congregants and others.
Even today, I encounter individuals who want to speak to me about different topics or current events with such negativity and certain language spoken. Unless that person(s) is discussing something of importance or seeking my opinion or advice, will gently and respectfully, excuse myself. Unfortunately, such language or negativity can be found in diverse populations. What is terribly sad is the increase by children in various communities finding with satisfaction, joy, and meaning committing crime that includes bringing harm, loss of life and often destruction or theft of property belonging to others.
Our yeshivos, Beis Yaakov’s, day schools, throughout the USA, our rabbonim, rebbetzins and chaplains are to be commended, for imbuing, for instilling, for encouraging all that Aharon Hakohen stood for. Torah, Avoda and Gemilus Chasadim. Midos Tovos, kindness, goodness, with love for H, love of the Torah love for each other with sincerity and a heart of gold.
We all have our work laid out for us. We are all ambassadors of the Ribono shel Olam and Klal Yisrael. May our emunah and our betachan remain strong with hope never ending. May we be zoche maysim tovim, simchas hachaim and to have many simchos. There is so much to be mispallel for. To serve H with character traits of humility. To have empathy and bring honor to others.
From Tehillim (34: 15) “Seek peace and pursue it.”
From Avos (4:12) “Be humble of spirit before every person.”
From Pirkei Avos Chapter 5 Rabbi Chananyaw ben Akashia says: Desire did the Holy One Blessed is He to confer merit upon Israel; therefore, He gave an abundance to them of Torah and mitzvos, as it is said: H desire for the sake of (Israel’s) righteousness, to make the Torah great and glorious.:
From The Gentle Weapon Prayer for Everyday and Not-So- Everyday Moments
Timeless Wisdom from the Teachings of the Hasidik Master Rebbe Nachman of Breslov. “Holy One” grant me the wisdom to bring harmony to the alliance of my body and my soul. Let them rise together in my devotion to You. My soul perceives Your light-let my body discern it too. My soul sounds Your praise- let my body sing it too.”
I hope to be sharing with you in a forthcoming article about the fabulous wedding of the wonderful couple I wrote about in previous articles that occurred this past Sunday.
Sincerely yours Rabbi Yehuda Blank