Weekly Torah Portion

“Rabbi I Need You to Permit This”

Two competing merchants had a conversation; “I see everyone comes to you to buy schnitzel. What do you put into it? Asked one to the other. The merchant answered: “I put in 90% bread crumbs and 10% meat.” The first merchant was astounded; “Oh, you put in meat?”

Emor has the chapter with all the holidays in it. It says “The holidays of G-d special holy times that you shall call them in their correct time, these are My holidays”. Why is the fact they are G-d’s holidays mentioned twice in the same verse?

The Six Day War was over. Land in Jerusalem formerly taken by the Jordanians for 19 years suddenly fell like ripe fruit into Israel’s hands after many miracles in the battles for Jerusalem. Wealthy people seized the opportunity to get real estate sure to go up in price. One property had a building that was constantly used by the Jordanian Legionnaires sharpshooters as it had great views to the rest of Jerusalem. A wealthy man recognized the value of this property and bought it knowing he would resell it for a great profit. The neighbor next door to this property was an institute of higher learning that was taken over by Jordan for the 19 years of Jerusalem’s captivity.  This institute wanted to borrow the man’s building until they rebuild a proper building for themselves and the man agreed.

At the dedication ceremonies for the institution people were euphoric.  A general who was the speaker wanted to add some drama to his speech and said: “Imagine! Just a few weeks ago this was under Jordanian control and now it’s ours!” The wealthy man said: “Ahem! You don’t mean it’s yours, you mean it’s mine!”

The veracity of this story is questionable though it’s quite probable that it happened. But as parable it’s valuable. Sometimes someone not observant will approach a religious Jew and ask him: “Please ask your rabbi to permit me to do such and such…” meaning to permit something the Torah prohibits but the asker is sure the rabbi can somehow permit… you can sometimes hear bitter complaints: “But what you want you find permission for…”

Some people believe the Torah is putty in the hands of the Rabbis to mold as they see fit and if you want to observe Torah all you need is to be close to right rabbi…

The verse points out that the sages have the power to establish when the holiday comes out according to the lunar month and how the sages sanctify it. But in order to prevent people from misreading the verse it says these are My holidays twice. “These are My holidays that you will call on their appointed times, these are My holidays.” Remember you can sanctify when the holiday is, but they are my holidays, says G-d.

It’s not ours, it’s mine, Says G-d!

Passover was more than just cleaning out Chametz and eating matzos Sukkot was more than siting and eating in the sukka and every holiday is more than a bunch of experiences. Besides the 90% bread crumbs G-d wants at least 10% meat…

This Lag BaOmer, think about it. It’s not just a trip, dancing or a bonfire. It’s mainly a celebration of the revelation of hidden Torah, a day of prayer and holiness in merit of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai. Remember who the day belongs to and fill it with at least 10% holiness.


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