Make Yourself At Home
"...Its sound shall be heard when he enters the Sanctuary before
The Torah relates that the Kohein Gadol wore a robe with
bells attached to its hem to insure that before he entered the Sanctuary his
presence would be announced. The Rashbam cites this verse as the source for
the practice of Rabbi Yochanan, which was to knock on the door of his own
home before entering . It seems logical to assume that the verse
indicates that a person is required to announce himself before entering
someone else's home, not his own. The novelty of Rabbi Yochanan's actions
seems to be that he would knock before entering his own home. How can the
Kohein Gadol's requirement to announce himself before entering the
Sanctuary, which is the home for the Shechina, be the source of the
requirement for us to announce ourselves before entering our own homes?
The Torah states "Ve'asu li mikdash veshachanti betocham" - "They should
build for me a Sanctuary and I will reside in them ." In order to be
grammatically correct, the verse should have stated "and I will reside in
it" What message is being taught by this apparent inconsistency?
Influenced by a secular society, many of us believe that in order to
experience Hashem's presence, we must be in the synagogue. We erroneously
assume that entering the synagogue is akin to entering Hashem's home.
Consequently, when we leave the synagogue, we leave Hashem behind.
Rabbi Yochanan is teaching us that although the structure we build is for
Hashem's presence to rest, it is nevertheless still considered our home. The
Tabernacle, and on a smaller scale our houses of worship are the communal
prototype of what our own homes should be. Hashem's presence should not be
confined to a structure which is deemed His home, for in such a case, we
cannot draw an example from it on a personal level, for our own homes. The
Tabernacle is to be viewed as the blueprint for the building of our own
individual homes. Therefore, we are commanded to build a structure in a
manner which will ultimately facilitate not only the Divine presence resting
within it but more importantly the Divine presence resting within us.
1. Pesachim 112a see Vayikra Rabbah 21:8
2.25:8 see Rav S.R. Hirsch's comments to this verse in his sefer Chorev.
The Key To Success
"You shall offer the one sheep in the morning, and the second sheep shall
you offer in the afternoon" (29:39)
There is a Midrash which discusses the a priori axiom of the
Torah. Rabbi Akiva states that the a priori axiom is "ve'ahavta lerayacha
kamocha" - "love your friend as you do yourself ." Ben Azai cites the
verse "Zeh sefer toldos adam, beyom bero Elokim adam bidmus Elokim asah oso"
- "This is the account of man's origin: On the day that Hashem created man,
He made him in his likeness [2,3]." A variant Midrash, recorded by the
author of the Ein Yaakov, offers a third opinion. Rabbi Shimon ben Pazi
states "Es hakeves ha'echad ta'aseh baboker, ve'es hakeves ha'sheini ta'aseh
bein ha'arbayim" - "You shall offer one sheep in the morning and a second
sheep shall you offer in the afternoon" as the a priori axiom.4 What is the
issue being disputed by these three opinions?
There are three basic relationships which each individual is expected to
perfect exist in this world. These relationships are "bein adam le'atzmo" -
"man's relationship to himself", "bein adam lachaveiro" - "man's
relationship to his fellow man", and "bein adam lamakom" - "man's
relationship to Hashem". The three relationships are interdependent to the
extent that if there is a deficiency within one of them, all three are lacking.
Fundamental to man's ability to accomplish and succeed in any endeavor in
life is his degree of self-esteem. A person with low self-esteem is not
motivated to accomplish. What should a person focus on so that he may
develop a positive definition of himself? Rabbi Akiva maintains that by
performing acts of kindness and exhibiting love toward his fellow man, a
person will build up a positive perception of himself. By learning to love
others, a person comes to love himself.
Ben Azai disagrees. He maintains that a person with a low self-image, who
does not love himself, cannot love others. How then does a person come to
appreciate himself? The Torah teaches that man is created in Hashem's image.
The most heinous of transgressors, the blasphemer is required to be buried
before nightfall of the day he is executed. Rashi explains that it is
deprecating to Hashem, in whose image the blasphemer was created, for his
corpse to remain exposed overnight. Even the corpse of this sinner retains
the stamp of G-d's likeness. Therefore, the knowledge that man is a G-dly
being is sufficient to give man a positive definition of himself, thereby
enabling him to perfect his other relationships.
Rabbi Shimon ben Pazi does not find Ben Azai's solution satisfactory, for
the knowledge that man is created in Hashem's image is only indicative of
man's potential. The awareness of this potential cannot be the source of
man's self-esteem. On the contrary, a person's self-esteem can be extremely
damaged by the knowledge that he has tremendous potential, but he is not
actually achieving to potential.. Therefore, Rabbi Shimon ben Pazi offers an
alternative solution. Hashem requires man to serve Him by bringing offerings
twice daily. This means that although Hashem is omnipotent, He has created a
relationship with Bnei Yisroel by which we can offer Him something. We can
cater to His "needs". The knowledge that a person is needed in a
relationship is an enormous self-esteem builder. The ultimate boost in
self-esteem comes when a person recognizes that the One who needs him is
Hashem. The understanding that we have a relationship with Hashem and He
desires that we serve Him, gives man self-esteem and is also the vehicle
through which man can actualize his potential. The system that Hashem has
designed for us to follow is the path which we must take to ultimately be
For man to actualize his potential, he must first develop his self-esteem..
According to Rabbi Akiva, this can be achieved by focusing upon his
relationships with his fellow men. Ben Azai argues that man's relationship
with himself is the key to a positive self-definition, while Rabbi Shimon
ben Pazi maintains that man's awareness of his relationship with Hashem is
the building block to success in all relationships.
3.Bereishis Rabbah 24:8