(Leviticus: 9:1- 11:47)

(Haftara: Shmuel II: 6:1-7:17)

(Pirkay Avot: Chapter 1)

1.  [Last days of Pesach] Pesach and Sukkot are both about a week long, while Shavuot, Rosh Hashana, and Yom Kippur are celebrated for only a day or two.  Pesach is the festival of freedom and Sukkot  could be called the festival of trust in God.  Why are Pesach and Sukkot a week long, while Shavuot (the giving of the Torah),  Rosh Hashana (Judgment Day) and Yom Kippur (the Day of Forgiveness) are so much shorter?

2. [10:6] When we mourn for a close relative, we tear our clothes and we don’t cut our hair. Aharon and his sons were told not to grow their hair long and not to tear their clothing. Shouldn’t our mourning be a natural expression of our emotion? Why should there be laws of mourning? On the other hand, why shouldn’t the priestly class be allowed to express their emotions in a physical way  like every other Israelite?

3. [Pirkay Avot] On each Shabbat between Pesach and Shavuot, there is a custom to read and learn one chapter of  “The Ethics of the Fathers”.  On this Shabbat, we begin with the first chapter. (It can be found in a regular Siddur after the Afternoon service of  Shabbat.) In each Mishna, one of the Rabbis summarizes his life’s thoughts about ethics for the Jews. In the second Mishna, we are told that the world is based on Torah, on work (or the Temple service) and on the practice of kindness. Aren’t there other things that are very important? What about justice and health and other qualities?

4. The third Mishna tells us not to serve God in order to get a prize, but rather to serve God out of pure love.  We are told elsewhere, however, that serving God does often bring us reward in this world and the world after death.  Isn’t it too great a challenge to expect the average person to serve God out of pure love?

5. The sixth Mishna advises us to “acquire” a good friend.  In other words, even “bribe” a person to be your friend. How can real friendship be bought? Shouldn’t it just happen in an honest and natural way?

Commentary

[Vayikra 9:6] “This is the thing which God commands you to do, and the glory of  God will appear to you.”

The Torah, however, does not tell us what the “thing” is that one should do in order to see a revelation of the glory of God. The midrash (Yalkut) tells us that this is “THE thing”:  one must remove from one’s heart the quality of hatred, resentment and argument.  The midrash assures us that when one does this, then there will be a revelation of the glory of God.

This study page is dedicated to the memory of Rivkah Rochel bat Ya’akov haLevi and Chaya Kornberg, and Yechiel Eliezer ben Yitzchok Meir and Rochel Laya Kornberg

And this study page is also dedicated to the memory of Gad Eliahu ben David and Kochava–Eli Zucker