Weekly Torah Portion

Emor – The Power of Positivity

How does one ensure that he becomes a positive person with all its benefits?

Vayikra, 24:10: The son of an Israelite woman went out – and he was the son of an Egyptian man – among the Children of Israel; they fought in the camp, the son of the Israelite woman and an Israelite man.

Rashi, 24:10, Dh: Veyatsa:…Rebbe Berachiah says that he went out from the previous section, he mocked and said, ‘on the seventh day he will arrange it’ – it is the way of the King to eat hot bread every day, [and this is] cold bread of nine days?!’

The incident of the mekallel (blasphemer) begins with the enigmatic statement that he ‘went out’, but it is unclear from where he went out.

Rashi cites several interpretations that address the question, “from where did he go out?” One explanation, based on Chazal, is that “he went out from the above quoted passage”, meaning, the immediately preceding section in the Torah. This discussed the lechem hapanim (showbread), and stated that the lechem hapanim would be placed on the Shulchan in the Mishkan on Erev Shabbot and remain there for several days. The mekallel scoffed at this state of affairs, arguing that it is totally inappropriate to give a King cold, old bread, and all the more so it is wrong to leave the lechem hapanim on the Mishkan for so long. As a result of this argument, he then proceeded to blaspheme.

The Imrei Emes (the Gerrer Rebbe) asks: The Talmud relates at the end of Chagiga that a miracle occurred with the lechem hapanim: It was placed on the shulchan warm, and it remained warm and fresh the whole week. The Talmud further states that when the people came to Yerushalayim for the Shalosh regalim (three foot festivals – Pesach, Shavuot and Sukkot), they were about to return home after spending a whole week in Yerushalayim, the Kohanim would pick up the shulchan and show the pilgrims the shulchan with the lechem hapanim and say, “See how dear you are before the Omnipresent — He makes a miracle that the bread stays hot (and fresh) for an entire week.” Accordingly, what was the claim of the Mekallel – this was not stale bread at all— it was fresh, piping-hot bread, as if it was straight out of the oven?

The Imrei Emes answers derech drush (homiletical interpretation) that the nature of the lechem hapanim was alluded to in its name – literally it means ‘Bread of the face’. He cites the verse in Mishlei that tells us, “As water reflects a face back to a face, so too one’s heart is reflected back to him by another .” This means that the way a person sees other people, will be reflected back onto him, so that if, for example, one sees his fellow in a positive light, then his fellow will also see him that way, and if he will see his fellow through a negative lens, then that will be reflected back onto him and his fellow will also see him negatively.

The Imrei Emes suggests that the Lechem Hanim was so called, because it too served as a mirror to the person looking at it. The way someone looked at it, is the way it was. So that when a normal person looked at the lechem hapanim at the end of the Shalosh regalim and saw that it was piping hot, he would see it in a positive way and see HaShem’s great kindness to us, and how precious we are in his eyes, because He keeps the bread fresh and hot. However, when someone who had an agenda or a jaundiced eye with a negative attitude to everything, looked at the lechem hapanim he actually saw cold, stale bread.

The Mekallel was such a person, and so when he saw the lechem hapanim he filtered through his negative outlook and saw cold, stale bread, hence his outrage and using such bread in the Mishkan. This led to him gravely sinning by blaspheming.

This is a lesson that is relevant throughout one’s life. Everything he sees will be filtered through his attitude and mindset – a positive person will view everything through an optimistic and upbeat lens which will inevitably influence how he acts in myriad situations. The negative person will see everything in a negative, and downbeat light, which will likewise have a deleterious effect on how he behaves.

How does one ensure that he becomes a positive person with all its benefits? By observing the laws and spirit of the laws of the Torah properly, then he will certainly become the positive person. This includes the laws of guarding one’s speech and judging favorably. One can only properly observe these Mitzvot by being the kind of person who sees people and the world in a positive fashion.

May we all merit to learn from the Mekallel how not to view the world.

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