Shabbat Hagadol

(Leviticus: 16:1-18:30)

(Haftara: Malachi 3:4-24)

1. [16:11]  “…for himself and for his household…”     From this pasuk  we learn that the High Priest (Kohen Gadol) must be married. He cannot do the service of the Temple unless he is married. Why must the Kohen Gadol be married?

2. [18:25] “…and the land will be impure and I will bring its sin against it…”   It seems that the impurity of the land is a result of sexual offenses. On Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the year the Torah reading is also about sexual offences. Why do sexual sins seem to be worse here than idolatry and injustice and insensitivity to suffering and other sins?

3. [Haftara, Malachi 3:7] “…return to me and I will return to you…”   In Hebrew, “repentance” is called  “return”.  If someone never believed in God, and then does believe in God, and wants to keep His Torah, why is that called “return”?  He or she never had a relationship with God, so, to what are they returning?

4.  [Pesach]   The festival of Passover is called “Pesach” in Hebrew because God “passed  over” the homes of the Israelites when the first-born of the Egyptians was killed (Shmot 12:13). A number of our festivals involve wars and violence and our victories. Wouldn’t it be better to focus on positive memories, rather than recounting the extreme difficulties in our history, and our victories?

5. [Pesach] On the personal level, the word Mitzrayim (Egypt) can also be pronounced metzarim in Hebrew—narrow places. Narrowness is a narrowness of mind and of emotion. It suggests fear and unwillingness to expand or to love. It suggests being enslaved by one’s negative habits, opinions, emotions and behaviours.  What can a person do to try to free himself or herself from this narrowness?

Commentary

There is a commandment from the Torah to be joyful on the festivals. Through joy, one achieves brightness of the face. Through that one enlivens the “holy intellect”. And through that one comes to the perception of Godliness.

–Rabbi Nachman of Breslov, 1772-1810, Ukraine.

 

This study page is dedicated to the memory of Sarah Bella bat Yitzchak Kummer, Chaim Yosef Yechiel ben Eliyahu Kummer and Eliyahu and Margaret Kummer