(Haftara: Zecharia 2:14-4:7)
(Pirkay Avot, chapter 2)
1. [9:7] “And those men [who were impure and couldn’t do the first Pesach] said to him, “We are impure…’ “. Whoever is ritually impure or too far away and can’t eat the Passover sacrifice on Passover can do it a month later. This law, however, was only instituted after these people asked for it. Why did God wait for the people to ask before he instituted the law?
2. [12:2] “And they said, “Has God spoken only with Moshe, hasn’t he also spoken with us?”. Didn’t Miriam and Aharon know that Moshe’s prophecy was so much greater than theirs? What was it about Moshe’s behaviour or about the nature of his prophecy that made them think that they were equal to Moshe in prophecy?
3. [Pirkay Avot 2:10(-12)] “Let all your acts be for the sake of Heaven”. R. Chaim of Volozhin says that even in satisfying one’s physical desires, one should act for the sake of Heaven. How can one act for the sake of Heaven while satisfying one’s physical desires?
4. [Pirkay Avot 2:13] “Do not be wicked in your own eyes”. R. Chaim of Volozhin says that if one sees himself as evil, he may think that he can no longer return to God. But we know that if someone is righteous in his own eyes, he or she will also not return to God. What is the best self-image that a person can have in order to return to God?
5. [Pirkay Avot 2:15] “Rabbi Tarfon says: The day is short, there is a lot of work…” It is more natural to say “Time is short.” What is gained by using this metaphor and saying “The day is short”?
The Sanctuary had many sections and parts. A work crew of several thousand Levites assembled the Sanctuary at each camp and dismantled and transported it when the Divine command would come to move on. Yet the “Tent of Meeting” was erected at every encampment–even if only for a single day! This teaches us that each and every one of our “stations” in life is significant. A person may find him or herself in a certain place or in a certain situation for a very brief period, and it may seem to him that he is merely “on the way” to some other place. Yet there is always something in that place or situation to be sanctified–something that can serve as a “Tent of Meeting” between Heaven and earth.
–R. Menachem Mendel Schneersohn of Lubavitch, 1902-1994.
This study page is dedicated to the memory of Gad Eliahu ben David and Kochava–Eli Zucker
And to the memory of Sarah Beila Kummer bat Yitzchak and Chana, Chaim Yosef Yechiel ben Eliyahu Kummer and Eliyahu and Margaret Kummer