(Haftara: Shoftim 13:2-25)
(Pirkay Avot:Chapter 6)
1. [6:2] “…the vow of the Nazir, to consecrate himself to God.” A person who is seeking more dedication to God or extra holiness can become a Nazir by limiting his or her contact with the world. Is it possible to increase one’s holiness by becoming more involved in the world? Which is more effective—less contact with the world, or more contact with the world?
2. [6:7] “For his father and his mother and his sister and his brother– he will not become impure for them when they die…” A Nazir, who takes extra restrictions on himself, may not attend any funerals. Accompanying the dead to the cemetery is one of our major commandments. Why do we show such respect for the dead–in order to support the survivors, in order to honour the dead, or as a therapy for ourselves? Which of these possibilities supports the idea that a Nazir does not go to any funerals?
3. [6:26] “May God lift His face to you and give you peace.” It seems that the more conscious a person is of God, the more peace that person has. Couldn’t the opposite be true—the more conscious one is of God, the more one feels obligated to serve God and, therefore, is less at ease?
4. [6:1] “R. Meir says, ‘Whoever learns Torah l’shma (literally: for its name) is worthy of many things…’ ” In our tradition, there are 2 main explanations of “Torah l’shma”. Torah l’shma is defined as learning Torah without ulterior motives—for the love of God. Others explain the term as meaning learning Torah in order to learn it as thoroughly and clearly as possible—for the sake of the Torah. Which explanation do you prefer? Why?
5. [Pirkay Avot 6:13] “…[He who says] what’s mine is yours and what’s yours is mine, is an ignorant person…” Many people think that sharing everything is an ideal attitude—a utopian outlook. Why is a person who wants to share everything considered ignorant?
[10 commandments] “Don’t take the name of the Lord, your God in vain”.
Our souls are drawn into the world from the source of Holiness, and the name of God is upon us. But a person must realize the true value of his or her soul, and not “take [it]…in vain”. If a person doesn’t see his true potential and doesn’t try to fix his own soul and move in a Godly direction—if he takes the name of God within himself in vain—then he will not receive help from above. But when a person realizes what kind of soul he has, and helps himself, then God will help him.
— The Sfat Emet, R. Yehudah Leib Alter, (1847-1905), Poland.
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