Torah Weekly

For the week ending 4 May 2019 / 29 Nisan 5779

Parshat Kedoshim

by Rabbi Yaakov Asher Sinclair -
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The nation is enjoined to be holy. Many prohibitions and positive commandments are taught:

Prohibitions: Idolatry; eating offerings after their time-limit; theft and robbery; denial of theft; false oaths; retention of someone's property; delaying payment to an employee; hating or cursing a fellow Jew (especially one's parents); gossip; placing physical and spiritual stumbling blocks; perversion of justice; inaction when others are in danger; embarrassing; revenge; bearing a grudge; cross-breeding; wearing a garment of wool and linen; harvesting a tree during its first three years; gluttony and intoxication; witchcraft; shaving the beard and sideburns; tattooing.

Positive: Awe for parents and respect for the elderly; leaving part of the harvest for the poor; loving others (especially a convert); eating in Jerusalem the fruits from a tree's 4th year; awe for the Temple; respect for Torah scholars, the blind and the deaf.


Let’s Do Lunch

“ shall be holy, for holy am I, the L-rd, your G-d” (13:17)

To paraphrase Lewis Carroll, the world gets “curiouser and curiouser.” A few weeks ago I was sitting with my wife waiting for a train to Manchester. We broke off our conversation because despite the waiting room being fairly crowded, no one else was talking and we didn’t want to continue in whispers. We looked around the room and most of the people there were either in two’s or three’s but not one of them was talking. Why? They were completely engrossed in their mobile devices. Virtuality is on the threshold of replacing reality. Time spent with real people has shrunk drastically.

“Let’s do lunch!” “Please have your people speak to my people.” We’re all so busy rushing — but to where? I well remember going with my wife to Rav Dov Schwartzman zatzal many years ago to ask for advice. The manner in which he greeted us, sat us down, enquired after our parents, our children and ourselves with such genuine interest impressed me greatly. Big people always seem to have time for you, even though they measure their minutes with the exactitude of a diamond merchant.

Shortly after his marriage, Rav Moshe Aharon Stern, together with a friend, was asked to escort the Chazon Ish to a wedding in Bnei Brak. They arrived at the Chazon Ish’s home to find him deep in what seemed to them a very superficial conversation with an elderly couple. They were talking about paper clips and hooks, window shades, etc. — which would sell well and which wouldn’t. Without saying it, they thought it a chutzpa to waste the time of the Gadol Hador with such narishkeit (childish foolishness). After nearly an hour, the Chazon Ish slowly escorted the couple to the door as though he had all the time in the world. After the couple left, seeing the expressions on the faces of the young men, the Chazon Ish said, “This couple was two Holocaust survivors. They lost their entire families, everyone and everything. They are trying to rebuild their lives. They plan to open a home goods store here in Bnei Brak. So we reviewed every item and discussed whether or not to stock them.”

Few people sanctified their time as the Chazon Ish or Rav Dov Schwartzman, and yet they prioritized chessed, kindness, even over their learning.

“You shall be holy, for holy am I, the L-rd, your G-d.”

Just as G-d has ‘time’ for the humblest human on the planet, so too must we look up from our machines — and sanctify the minutes of our lives.

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