Remember to read the fine print....
Welcome to my new blog....The Fine Print. Several times a week a short idea will be presented from the weekly parsha. The ideas will mostly come from the Mussar literature and will be practical for our modern day lives. Every entry will have an action item. Please share any comments you have with we at: .

Hashem's Love for us never changes

Parshat Acharei Mot, 16:16 reads. וְכִפֶּ֣ר עַל־הַקֹּ֗דֶשׁ מִטֻּמְאֹת֙ בְּנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל וּמִפִּשְׁעֵיהֶ֖ם לְכׇל־חַטֹּאתָ֑ם וְכֵ֤ן יַעֲשֶׂה֙ לְאֹ֣הֶל מוֹעֵ֔ד הַשֹּׁכֵ֣ן אִתָּ֔ם בְּת֖וֹךְ טֻמְאֹתָֽם  This is the goal of the avodah that the Kohen Gadol would do on Yom HaKippurim.  Rashi comments:  "Even though they are impure, the shechina is among them."  Rav Yerucham HaLevi Levovitz comments on this rashi that Hashem does not change as a result of the people's sins. Hashem has the same desires after the sin as He did prior- to walk with man. This is a simple yet powerful idea. We may think that Hashem loves us a little less after we sin.  Sin does not change Hashem, however. It only changes us.  Our goal should be to remember that Hashem loves us just as much after we sin and wants to be with us just as much.

Action Item:  Medidate on the fact that Hashem loves us after we sin just as much as he does before we sin.

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Crying in Silence

I write these words on Erev Yom HaShoa after having just studied the story of the death of Nadav and Avihu after they brought a strange fire on the day of the inauguration of the Mishkan. In VaYikra 10:3 we witness Aharon's response- Vayidom Aharon - silence, shattering silence. Rabbi Yedidya Frankel (1913-1986), the former chief rabbi of Tel Aviv explains why the mourning period for the death of a child is only 30 days while the mourning period for the death of a parent is 12 months. One would think that it should be the other way around. While any death is sad, the death of a child is most often much more painful than the death of a parent. Since the pain is greater shouldnt the mourning period be longer? No! The parent that loses a child will experience intense pain for the rest of his/her life and therefore the "official" mourning period does not have to be that long.  Many suffer intense pain over the loss of children. On Yom HaShoah we experience this national pain over the cruel deaths of millions of children. While some attempt to rationalize the Holocaust - silence, shattering silence is the  optimal response. It demonstrates that we as human beings have a limited understanding of the world and have no way of explaining how it functions.

But one can cry as well. One can cry in silence. Some say that Aharon did not cry because he was content in knowing that the will of G-d was being fulfilled  One can be content and still shed a silent tear.  Crying does not (necessarily)contradict bitachon in Hashem. Was Aharon not a father who loved his children. Can a human being possibly not shed a tear upon the death of not one, but two of his children?  Just a few pesukim later, The Torah tells us that Hashem directs Moshe, Aharon, Elazar and Ittamar not to  "leave your heads unshorn and do not rend your garments.....and your brothers, the entire House of Israel shall bewail that Conflagration that Hashem ignited." This would seem to indicate that the rest of the people were to cry but  the family was not to cry. But does it mean that they didn't actually cry before this command? I don't believe so.

Daily Action Item: Spend a few moments this Yom HaShoa in silence shedding a tear for the martyrs of the Holocaust..

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Torah and Mitzvot are Today's Temple

In VaYikra 9:23 we read about the glory of Hashem appearing to the people on the day of the inauguration of the Mishkan:" וַיָּבֹא מֹשֶׁה וְאַהֲרֹן, אֶל-אֹהֶל מוֹעֵד, וַיֵּצְאוּ, וַיְבָרְכוּ אֶת-הָעָם; וַיֵּרָא כְבוֹד-יְקוָק, אֶל-כָּל-הָעָם  -  Moses and Aaron then went into the tent of meeting. When they came out, they blessed the people; and the glory of the Lord appeared to all the people."  

Does the fact that we do not have a Mishkan/Mikdash today mean that the Glory of Hashem does not reside within us.   The Saba of Slobodka, Rav Natan Tzvi Finkel, ZT"L (1849-1927) in his work אור הצפון (see חלק ב דף קעז) writes that the presence of Hashem's glory does not depend on physical buildings but rather on the study of Torah and the proper performance of Mitzvot.  Whenever we study Torah and do mitzvot Hashem's glory resides amongst us. A simple idea but hard to keep in our awareness.   We sometimes go through the motions of doing Mitzvot and learning Torah but do we really try to cause Hashem's glory to reside within us?  

Daily Action Item:  Meditate for one moment before doing a Mitzvah or learning Torah that you are working to cause Hashem's glory to reside amongst us.

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Be Humble!

Parshat Shmini

Chapter 9 of VaYikra, Verse 7 reads:

וַיֹּ֨אמֶר משֶׁ֜ה אֶל־אַֽהֲרֹ֗ן קְרַ֤ב אֶל־הַמִּזְבֵּ֨חַ֙ וַֽעֲשֵׂ֞ה
אֶת־חַטָּֽאתְךָ֙ וְאֶת־עֹ֣לָתֶ֔ךָ וְכַפֵּ֥רבַּֽעַדְךָ֖ וּבְעַ֣ד הָעָ֑ם
וַֽעֲשֵׂ֞ה אֶת־קָרְבַּ֤ן הָעָם֙ וְכַפֵּ֣ר בַּֽעֲדָ֔ם כַּֽאֲשֶׁ֖ר צִוָּ֥ה ה

And Moses said to Aaron, "Approach the altar and perform your sin offering and your burnt offering, atoning for yourself and for the people, and perform the people's sacrifice, atoning for them, as the Lord has commanded.

because Aaron was bashful and afraid to approach [the altar]. So Moses said to him: "Why are you ashamed? For this you have been chosen!" -
[Torath Kohanim 9:7]

The scene is the dedication of the Mishkan on the first of Nissan. It is Aaron's first day on the job as high priest. Moses instructs Aaron to bring certain sacrifices that will attain forgiveness for the sin of the Golden calf for both him and the people. Moses tells Aaron to approach the Mizbeach and offer the sacrifices. Rashi questions why Moses had to instruct Aaron to approach the mizbeach when simply instructing him to offer the sacrifices would have sufficed. In order to offer the sacrifices Aaron obviously would have been required to approach the Mizbeach.

Rashi suggests that Aaron did not feel worthy of approaching and thus Moses had to instruct him to do so. Moses, according to Rashi, is telling Aaron to overcome his feelings and do what he was chosen to do. The word "this" in Rashi ("For *this* you were chosen") in this reading refers to the job.

But this is only one way of reading Rashi. Another way of reading Rashi's comment is that Aaron was actually chosen BECAUSE of his humility. Here the word "this" refers to Aaron's humility.

Humility is paramount in Judaism. One cannot be a good Jew without being humble. The talmud in Tractate Sota (5) relates what God says about a haughty person: "I and he cannot live (together) in the world."

Daily Action Item: Ponder how we can better live with God in the world by being more humble. 

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