(Leviticus: 25:1-27:34) \ (Haftara: Jeremiah 16:19-17:14)

(Pirkay Avot: Chapter 5) \ (Sfirat Ha’omer)

1. [27:33] “…and he shall not exchange it…”  One of levels of interpretation of the Torah is the spiritual level.  R. Menachem Mendel Schneersohn, (1902-1994), said that this pasuk can be understood to mean that every person was born with a mission in life that is distinctly, uniquely and exclusively his or her own. How can a person know what his or her purpose in life is?

2. [Jeremiah 16:19] “…to You the nations will come from the ends of the earth.”  We believe that in the future all the people in the world will recognize the one universal God who revealed the Torah to us.  In other words, we will be recognized as the center of the world. In our religious-spiritual system, arrogance is considered a very, very bad quality. How can we believe in our religious-spiritual system in a way that does not lead to arrogance?

3. [Pirkay Avot 5:10] “There are 7 qualities in a wise person: …he doesn’t interrupt another’s speech, he answers clearly without confusion, he asks according to the subject and answers properly, he answers in the order of the subjects raised…he admits to the truth”. If a person is wise, he or she will behave in this way.  Could behaving in this way make a person wise?

4. [Pirkay Avot 5:13] “…when someone says what is mine is mine, and what is yours is yours: that is an average quality, and some say that it is the quality of Sdom (cruelty)”. How can there be an argument on this point? Isn’t this one of the basic principles in ethical behavior?

5. [Pirkay Avot 5:10] “What’s mine is yours and what’s yours is yours is a saintly quality”. Elsewhere in Pirkay Avot [1:14] we are told that “If I do not take care of myself, no-one else will take care of me” —I should worry about myself first and then help others. There is normal, ethical behavior and there is saintly behavior. However, these are religious principles. Shouldn’t we expect everyone to be saintly?

Commentary

“Where is the dwelling of God?”  This was the question with which the rabbi of Kotzk surprised a number of learned men who happened to be visiting him.

They laughed at him: “Is not the whole world full of his glory!”

Then he answered his own question: God dwells wherever man lets him in.”

–R. Menachem Mendel, 1787-1859, Poland.

This study page is dedicated to the memory of Gad Eliahu ben David and Kochava—Eli Zucker

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