Wednesday, August 13, 2014

425 - Emor

If we were to give a heading to this week's parsha, says Rav Wolbe (Shiurei Chumash), the heading would be "kavod" - honor. The parsha delineates numerous aspects of kavod pertaining to Hashem, kohanim, theKoheinGadol, the korbanos, BneiYisrael, and the Yomim Tovim. The tremendous amount of kavod befitting a Jewish person can be gleaned from the halachos of meis mitzvah - a Jew who dies and has no one to care for his burial.

In contrast to all other kohanim, the Kohein Gadol is commanded to continue to perform the avodah in the Bais Hamikdosh even when faced with the death of a parent. The Rashbam (Vayikra 10, 3) explains that he must set aside his own feelings and continue the avodah because a cessation of the avodah would be a disgrace to Hashem. Nevertheless, if a Kohein Gadol comes upon a meis mitzvah while on his way to perform the avodah on Yom Kippur, he must take the time to bury the dead person instead of performing the avodah! The fact that a tzelem Elokim's body is laying in disgrace without anyone to tend to him, overrides even the avodah of the Kohein Gadol on Yom Kippur.

In a similar vein, writes Rav Wolbe (Iggros V'Kesavom vol. II pg. 179, 180), there is a concept of a "chai mitzvah" - a living Jew who has no one to nurture and tend to him. The significance of this concept is also extraordinary, to the degree that Chazal tell us (Berachos 19b), "Kavod ha'brios is so important that it even overrides a negative commandment of the Torah." 

Who can be classified as a "chai mitzvah?" A child who learns Torah but has no one to guide him. When a person is born, he is likened to a wild donkey. The aim is to turn this wild donkey into a mentch: "Let one who is [like] a wild donkey be reborn as a man" (Iyov 11, 12). Yet, we cannot expect a child to be reborn if there is no "midwife" to "deliver" him. Even if a child learns well in school, nevertheless, derech eretz and Yiras Shamayim do not simply evolve by themselves. In addition to the great amounts of Torah he is being taught, every child needs someone to nurture and guide him.

This chinuch is a skill. The interesting thing is that most parents think they have mastered this skill! Another interesting phenomenon regarding chinuch is that while some results of chinuch are recognizable immediately, others can only be seen many years down the road. For example, a child who misbehaves in school and is screamed at or slapped, might not repeat that misdemeanor ever again in school. However, the real litmus test is how he behaves when he is thirty years old. Chinuch must always be implemented with an eye to the future. A spur-of-the-moment response generally does not take into account the long term effects.

Proper chinuch takes a lot of foresight and consideration. Every encounter we have with our children has the ability to affect them positively or, G-d forbid negatively, for many years to come. Indeed, chinuch is a time consuming job, but there is no better investment of your time than the time spent cultivating your child into the tzelem Elokim he is meant to personify!

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