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Vertluch: Parshas Emor

Towards the end of this weeks parsha the Torah discusses the episode of the mekalel; the individual who cursed Hashem. Such a repulsive incident had never happened before, and the Torah discusses how they dealt with him; by taking him out in front of everyone and stoning him. The pasuk says, ‘and the son of a Jewish lady went out.’ (24; 10) Rashi asks ‘from where did he go out? (Rabbi Levi says) He went out of his world.’

The question here is twofold: firstly, Rashi seems to be bothered as to why the Torah felt it relevant to say he ‘went out’ altogether. The Torah could have just written that there were two people that got into a fight. There must be some significance with the fact that Rashi asked ‘from where did he go out?’

Secondly, why did Rashi use the loshon that he went ‘out of his world’? Some meforshim comment that he did an aveira that would cause him to die, while others say that he lost his portion in the World to Come. These were both direct results of the actual sin which was not yet transgressed. If so, Rashi’s reasoning seems a bit odd. Why would he have left his world if he didn’t commit any wrongdoings? What appears to be the meaning of Rashi when he says ‘me’olam yatza’?

I heard a beautiful answer from a Rebbi of mine.

We know that there’s a prohibition in the Torah that a person cannot curse Hashem. Not only a Jew, but even a non Jew can’t. It is listed as one of the seven mitzvos bnei Noach that they all must follow. If one does curse Him-lo aleinu-, they are punishable by death.

The Sefer Hachinuch writes (mitzvah 70) a reason for this lav and says that there are four categories of creations. The lowest (fourth) is called a ‘domem’, i.e. a rock, water, etc. The next level up (third) is referred to as a ‘tzomeach’-something that grows or sprouts-i.e. trees, grass, etc. The second level is known as a ‘baal chai’-such as an animal and the last category is what we call human beings, an Adam. The pasuk in Bereishis (2; 7) says when that Hashem created man the main separation between the humans and the animals was the ability to talk; the ‘ruach mimalelah.’ What makes man the highest tier, is the fact that he can speak. Says the Chinuch-imagine if a person who takes this gift that separates us from animals-the tool that elevate us to the status of a human-and uses it and turns it against the Ribono Shel Olam! That’s why the Torah is so stringent about this! The words of the Chinuch are that he turns himself into a ‘disgusting sheretz’.

I believe this is how we can understand Rashi. This mekalel left his world—the world of human beings. When this person goes and prepares himself to curse Hashem he is using the tool that Hashem gave him and through that he turns himself into a disgusting creature; he demotes himself to tier two-to the level of a baal chai.

We must all realize that everything we have is a gift from Hashem. Be it the ability to speak, see or hear. Look around at the many people that don’t have the same achievements and that are less fortunate than you. How embarrassing would it be if you take these gifts and use it for the wrong reasons? There is nothing more embarrassing than taking this gift and using it for the negative.

The Dubna Maggid quotes the following pasuk in parshas Ha’azinu. ‘You forgot the [Mighty] Rock Who bore you; you forgot the God Who delivered you.’ (32;18). What exactly does this mean?

He offers the following parable:

There was once a man who owed money to just about every single person in his town. Wherever he went, people were chasing him to pay back his loan to a point where he found himself unable to leave his house. One day, a friend comes to his house and tells him that he came up with a solution to the problem. He says whenever you are approached, make noises and act as if you went insane. After some time word will get out that you snapped from all your debt and the public will feel bad and stop harassing you.

The very next day he leaves his house with intent of using his friends’ idea. Shortly after leaving, he is approached by one of his creditors and he immediately starts his tactics. Upon the creditor observing this rather odd behavior he is left alone, and after a few more times of this behavior rumor began to circulate that this guy had completely lost it.

A couple of weeks later the friend who gave him the idea comes and asks for his hundred dollars he was owed. This man immediately starts his outburst of noises again. The friend then yells at him that he knows the trick as it was his idea. He demands him money on the spot and says ‘don’t use my trick on me!’

Says the Dubna Maggid, Hashem created the middah of shikcha (forgetting) for good reasons; it was a gift. And what do we do with it? We use that gift to forget him! Says Hashem, ‘I created the ability to forget and now you’re going to use it against me?’

That’s how he explains the pasuk and that’s what we can learn from this mekalel. Hashem bestows each of us with countless gifts daily; it’s our job to make sure that we don’t use these gifts against Him.


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