web analytics
September 18, 2014 / 23 Elul, 5774
At a Glance
Judaism
Sponsored Post
Apartment 758x530 Africa-Israel at the Israel Real Estate Exhibition in New York

Africa Israel Residences, part of the Africa Israel Investments Group led by international businessman Lev Leviev, will present 7 leading projects on the The Israel Real Estate Exhibition in New York on Sep 14-15, 2014.



Home » Judaism » Parsha »

Skin Deep


Rapps-Rabbi-Joshua-logo

The articles in this column are transcriptions and adaptations of shiurim by Rav Joseph Ber Soloveitchik, zt”l. The Rav’s unique perspective on Chumash permeated many of the shiurim and lectures he presented at various venues over a 40 plus year period. His words add an important perspective that makes the Chumash in particular, and our tradition in general, vibrant and relevant to our generation.

Chazal observed that the punishment for the deterioration and dereliction of morality is negaim, bodily afflictions such as leprosy. Negaim are mentioned in connection with, among other sins, lashon hara and illicit relationships.

The Midrash on the verse “adam ki yakriv mikem” (Vayikra 1:2) says that when the Jew brings a korban, the Torah uses the word mikem, from you. However when the Jew sins, the word mikem is omitted, as it says “Adam ki yih’yeh v’or b’saro s’eis oh sapachas oh vaheres” (Vayikra 13:2)

This Midrash is consistent with the statement of Rabbi Simlaey, quoted by Rashi, at the beginning of Tazria, that among the objects of creation, man was created last and his punishment was mentioned first. Man has two possible extremes. If he is worthy, he transcends the rest of creation. However, if he is not worthy he is lower than the mosquito that was created before him. Moshe Rabbeinu, the Neviim, Chazal were all human beings, yet they reached amazing heights of kedushah and closeness to Hashem. They epitomized the notion of adam ki yakriv mikem, kedushah emanated from the depths of their souls.

The first part of Sefer Vayikra through Parshas Shemini, and the second part from the middle of Shemini through the end of Sefer Vayikra, describe how a Jew reaches the level of mikem, how he dedicates himself to be a korban to Hashem, by living a life of Torah, mitzvos and gemilas chesed.

The Rambam at the end of hilchos Shemittah V’yovel says that a close relationship to Hashem is not restricted to the bnei Levi. Any Jew can aspire to be close to Hashem, to become a living korban oleh, to reach higher levels than the angels.

On the other hand, man – the seemingly great artist, scientist, engineer, politician – often is a spiritual and moral leper. Leprosy is more of a spiritual disease than a physical one.

Naaman, the general at the time of Elisha, was considered a great person by his peers. Yet ethically and morally, when he approached Elisha, he was a bankrupt leper.

Each Jew has something inherent and intrinsic within him that can lead to greatness and the attainment of spiritual heights: the concept of mikem. When the Jew sinks to the level of a leper, he is clearly not exhibiting mikem.

Mikem tells us that a Jew sins due to external influences. His true internal and spiritual makeup is inconsistent with and incapable of sinning. The Rambam uses the concept of mikem to explain the Halacha of kofin oso ad sh’yomar rotzeh ani. For example, beis din has the authority to administer lashes to an individual who is obligated to grant his wife a divorce but refuses to do so. How can beis din compel him if we know that a divorce obtained via coercion (get me’useh) is not valid? The Rambam explains that the internal personality of the Jew wants to comply with the requirements of beis din. However, external forces, the yetzer Hara, suppress his desire to act properly and prevent him from complying. Beis din gives him lashes thereby causing him to break the yetzer hara‘s hold on him and subsequently allows his internal desire to comply with beis din to express itself by granting his wife the divorce of his now unimpeded and full volition.

About the Author: Rabbi Joshua Rapps attended the Rav's shiur at RIETS from 1977 through 1981 and is a musmach of Yeshivas Rabbeinu Yitzchak Elchanan. He and his wife Tzipporah live in Edison, N.J. Rabbi Rapps can be contacted at ravtorah1@gmail.com.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Skin Deep”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
The beheading of British aid worker David Haines, Sept. 14, 2014. The terrorist standing beside him threatened that his fellow British aid volunteer, Alan Henning, would be next if UK Prime Minister David Cameron doesn't relinquish his support for the fight against ISIS.
British Muslims Plead for ISIS to Free Captive Alan Henning
Latest Judaism Stories
nitzavim

As Moshe is about to die, why does God tell him about how the Israelites will ruin everything?

Jonah and the Whale (2012) 23 x 23, bronze relief by Lynda Caspe.

Jonah objected to God accepting repentance based on ulterior motives and likely for short duration.

15th century Book of the Torah

This week’s parsha offers a new covenant; a covenant that speaks to national life unlike any other

Leff-091214

All Jews are inherently righteous and that is why we all have a portion in the World to Come.

If mourning is incompatible with Yom Tov, why is it not incompatible with Shabbat?

Since it is a Rabbinic prohibition we may follow the more lenient opinion.

How can the Torah expect me today, thousands of years after the mitzvahs were given, to view each mitzvah as if I’m fulfilling it for the first time?

Torah isn’t a theological treatise or a metaphysical system but a series of stories linked over time

In contrast to her Eicha-like lamentations of the previous hour or more, however, my youngest was now grinning from ear-to-ear.

An Astonishing Miracle
‘Why Bring the Infants to Hakhel?’
(Chagigah 3a)

Question: I recently loaned money to a friend who has been able to repay only part of it. This was an interest-free loan. We exchanged a signed IOU, not a proper shtar with witnesses, since I have always trusted her integrity and only wanted a document that confirms what was loaned and what was repaid. Now that shemittah is approaching, what should I do? Should I forgive the loan? And if my friend is not able to repay it, may I deduct the unpaid money from my ma’aser requirement?

Name Withheld

e are in a time of serious crisis and must go beyond our present levels of chesed.

According to Ibn Ezra, the Torah was stressing through this covenant that hypocrisy was forbidden.

“Tony said that the code in most places in the U.S. is at least 36 inches for a residential guardrail,” replied Mr. Braun. “Some make it higher, 42, or even 52 inches for high porches. What is the required height according to halacha?”

Simcha is total; sahs is God’s joy in protecting us even when we are most vulnerable.

More Articles from Rabbi Joshua Rapps
Rapps-Rabbi-Joshua-logo

According to Ibn Ezra, the Torah was stressing through this covenant that hypocrisy was forbidden.

Rapps-Rabbi-Joshua-logo

The inability of creation to violate Hashem’s natural law extends to inanimate object such as heaven and earth.

If there is a mitzvas minuy dayanim in the Diaspora, then why is there a difference between Israel and the Diaspora in the number of judges and their distribution?

The first prayer of Moshe was Vayechal, where Moshe’s petition was that no matter how bad bnei Yisrael were, the Egyptians were worse.

Moshe served dual major roles for bnei Yisrael. He was their teacher and their leader.

Moshe’s punishment described in the parsha is most tragic. He was chosen to redeem the people, he loved them dearly and personally sacrificed so much for them.

Scientific disciplines don’t ask “why”, a metaphysical question. They ask “how does it function?”

While Moshe was the most unique prophet, he was also alone.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/parsha/skin-deep/2014/03/26/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: