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Posted on April 17, 2024 (5784) By Rabbi Yissocher Frand | Series: | Level:

These divrei Torah were adapted from the hashkafa portion of Rabbi Yissocher Frand’s Commuter Chavrusah Tapes on the weekly portion: #1288 An Aliyah After Your Wife Gives Birth Revisited. Good Shabbos & Chag Kosher V’somayach!

Towards the end of Parshas Metzorah, the pasuk says: “You shall separate the Children of Israel from their contamination; and they shall not die as a result of their contamination if they contaminate My Mishkan that is among them.” (Vayikra 15:31). The simple reading of this pasuk is that when Bnei Yisrael are tameh (impure), they should not, in a state of impurity, go into the holy places where they are forbidden to enter, lest they die from that impurity. However, homiletically, the sefer Yismach Yehudah cites the following interesting vort from a drasha of Rav Yosef Nechemia Kornitzer (a great grandson of the Chasam Sofer, who was the Chief Rabbi of Cracow, Poland, in the early part of the 20th century):

Sometimes we talk to our children or to our students or to our congregants until we are blue in the face. We wonder, does it make an impression? Are our words taken seriously? Do people change? Perhaps this is most relevant for professionals who do this for a living. Do all the things that we say, year after year, really help? Do speeches help? Do drashos help? Does mussar (chastisement) help? Does lecturing to our children really help?

Rav Kornitzer suggests that we need to bear in mind that it may not help now, and it may not help six months from now or a year from now. But, at some point, at some time in the future, maybe the lesson will hit home.

I don’t know how Rav Yosef Nechemia Kornitzer explained the mashal that he gave, but today it is easy for us to imagine what this is like. Namely, the “mussar” is in the “cloud.” Where is all this data? It is in the “cloud.” Where is the “cloud?”? There is not a cloud in the sky! But we know this concept that something can be not in front of us, yet when we need to access it, it is somehow there for us to access. It is the same with mussar and with lecturing our children. It is there. It hasn’t penetrated yet, but it can penetrate.

He references the pasuk “And these matters that I command you today shall be upon your heart (al levavecha).” (Devorim 5:6). It does not say b’soch levavecha (within your heart) because sometimes it has not yet penetrated the heart. However, at least it remains al levavechaupon your heart. One day, maybe, just perhaps, it will penetrate the heart and will be b’soch levavecha.

This is why the pasuk says “…v’lo yamusu m’tumosam” (Vayikra 15:31), which means you talk to people and you tell them what is right. Even though it might not help now or even ten years from now, they will not die from their impurity. How many people do we know that return at the end of their days? They don’t die in their state of impurity because at the end of their days, they in fact realize that what they were told so many years earlier was correct, and they in fact do come back.

Ironically, I was recently speaking with someone in Eretz Yisrael who told me the following interesting incident that happened only a few days ago. (This was April 2016.) I believe this story brings home the point that I am trying to make:

A fellow in Eretz Yisrael has a distant relative who was born and raised in a small town in Pennsylvania in the first half of the twentieth century. The relative’s father was a rav and a shochet, who tried his best to educate his son in the proper Torah path, including sending him to a yeshiva. The boy only lasted in the yeshiva for two weeks. He hated it. He left the yeshiva and eventually left Yiddishkeit. He never got married. He does not have a wife or children. He is a man alone in the world. From what I gather, he must be in his late sixties or early seventies.

For whatever reason, this relative got an inspiration: I want to go to Israel. I want to daven at the Kosel HaMaaravi. He takes his Bar Mitzvah tefillin, which he has not put on in a half century, and has plans to visit the kosel, put on his tefillin, and daven there. He hooks up with some Federation tour and goes with this tour and their tour guide on the Federation tour to Eretz Yisrael.

The person who is relating the story finds out that his long-lost cousin is coming to Israel and he decides that he will get in touch with him, take him around, and give him a real tour of Eretz Yisrael. They meet in a certain place. The Israeli says to his American relative, “Have you been to the Kosel yet?” His cousin responds, “No, I have not been to the Kosel yet.” The Israeli said, “Great. So let’s go now!” The American says “No, not now. Maybe later.”

“What’s the problem?” his Israeli cousin presses him. “This is why you came. You want to put your tefillin on and daven at the kosel.” The cousin is hesitant. Finally he says “I can’t go!”

“Why can’t you go?” The long-lost cousin finally explains “I can’t go to the Kosel with a cross.”

The Israeli cousin is incredulous: “What are you doing with a cross?” The American explains that while he was on the Federation tour they went through the Armenian Quarter of the Old City. “I have a very good Christian friend back home in America. I wanted to buy him a cross from Israel as a present. I asked the rabbi who is leading the Federation tour if it was okay to buy a cross for my Christian friend in America. He told me it was.”

He bought the tselem (cross) and put it in his bag, and is now walking around Jerusalem with a tselem in his bag. He tells his relative “I cannot go to the Kosel with a cross in my bag.”

This Israeli cousin told my friend this story and his friend told it to me. He then commented: This fellow has not had any connection to Yiddishkeit in maybe sixty years. He is putting on tefillin now for probably the first time in more than fifty years, or even more! But he still has a sensitivity, a feeling, that a person does not go to the Kosel HaMaaravi with a tselem in his bag.

This is an example of “…You shall not die in your state of impurity.” The person left Yiddishkeit, he had a bad experience in yeshiva, he did not want to have anything to do with Judaism, and he has not kept who knows what for all these years, but there is something in the Jewish heart that remains “al levavecha” – upon your heart. It was ON the heart. It was “in the cloud.” After all these years, it finally penetrated that you do not go to the Kosel with a tselem in your bag.

This is a lesson to all of us, whether you are a rav, a rabbi, a rebbi, a teacher, or even a parent. If you preach and preach and preach and it does not seem to make a difference, yes, it does! “You shall warn… and they shall not die in their state of impurity.”

Transcribed by David Twersky; Jerusalem [email protected]

Edited by Dovid Hoffman; Baltimore, MD [email protected]

This week’s write-up is adapted from the hashkafa portion of Rabbi Yissochar Frand’s Commuter Chavrusah Series on the weekly Torah portion. A listing of the halachic portions for Parshas Tazria (/Metzora) is provided below:

  • # 007 – Self-Defense
  • # 051 – Moser: The Dilemma of the Jewish IRS Agent
  • # 094 – Hallel on Yom Ha’Atzmaut?
  • # 142 – Eyeglasses in Halacha
  • # 189 – Mikveh: Tevillah and Chaziza
  • # 279 – Women’s Testimony in Hilchos Niddah
  • # 325 – The Microscope in Halacha
  • # 369 – Bris Millah That Causes Chilul Shabbos
  • # 413 – Speaking Lashon Horah on Baalei Machlokes
  • # 457 – Getting an Aliyah After Childbirth
  • # 501 – Milah and the Sick Baby
  • # 545 – Dangerous Medical Procedures
  • # 589 – Pidyon Haben – Daytime or Night?
  • # 633 – Lashon Harah and Lashon HaTov
  • # 677 – Tallis Koton — Wool or Cotton?
  • # 721 – Eruv Pesach – Mores Special Than You Think
  • # 765 – How Many Mitzvos of Sefira Are There?
  • # 809 – Netilas Yadayim – Things You Never Knew
  • # 853 – Mila on Shabbos: Fascinating Questions
  • # 897 – Insights Into Sefiras Ha’Omer
  • # 942 – Kiddush Hashem – Is Everyone Obligated?
  • # 984 – “What’s Tonight’s Sefira?” and other Sefira Issues
  • #1028 – Davening Maariv Early: Does it Make it Tomorrow?
  • #1073 – Bracha Achrona – How Fast Or Slow Must One Eat?
  • #1115 – Office Lashon Horah – How Far Must You Go To Avoid It?
  • #1157 – But the Butcher I Buy From Has a Reliable Reputation!
  • #1201 – The Shabbos Bris and the Borei P’ri Ha’gefen
  • #1246 – Wearing Sunglasses on Shabbos? Contact Lenses? A Lens that Popped Out? and other “Glasses on Shabbos” Issues
  • #1288 – An Aliyah After Your Wife Gives Birth Revisited
  • #1333 – Oops! There is a Sticker on the Kli I Just Toiveled – Must I Toivel It Again?
  • #1377 – An In Vitro Fertilization Baby, Can You Do His Milah on Shabbos?
  • #1465 – Milah Shailos During the Corona Pandemic
  • #1508 – Making Shabbos Early in the Days of Sefiras Ha’Omer: Not as Simple as you Think
  • #1550 – A Few Interesting Lashon Horah Shailos

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