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Monday, May 9, 2016

Recap for 29 Nisan 5776 (Parsha Acharei)

This Shabbos we discussed Parsha Acharei, including commentary by Rav Yeager. We also took a look at the holidays of Yom HaShoah and Yom Ha’atzmaut, including commentary by Rav Malamed. This Shabbos we welcome back Yaki and David from Israel. David Schlesinger led discussion.

We discussed how we can motivate ourselves by thinking about negative consequences, such as what happened to Aaron’s sons who failed to follow Hashem's directives.  However, it is very important to also use positive motivation, by thinking about how we can become closer to Hashem, and get ready for the world to come, by doing the right thing.  We discussed that the best way to motivate our-self is by being primarily positive, while occasionally considering the negative.

One of the ideas we discussed is the fact that life is finite and does not last forever. It is important that we consider this, occasionally, but not dwell on it too much. It is important to have balance in life. We want to accomplish as much as possible by making the best possible use of time, but not being so obsessive about time that we are not enjoying the gift of life that Hashem gave us.

David talked about his father, Rav George N Schlesinger, being very focused on time. Rav George Shlesinger was the author of many articles about time that can be found on his memorial website,

Rob discussed how the holidays are laid out in the calendar in order to represent this balance we should have between focusing on rewards and consequences. Rob pointed out that Yom Kippur and Succot both occur during the same week. Rob also mentioned the difference between Yom Kippur and other holidays with respect to whom can be in the temple.  During Yom Kippur, only the Kohen was in the temple.  On other holidays, everyone was there.

We discussed the idea that perhaps Hashem doesn’t dish out punishment, but becomes indifferent to those who turn their backs on him. We discussed how the opposite of love is indifference, and not hate. If we do the right thing, we are rewarded by a closer relationship and connection with Hashem. If we do not do the right thing, we are not necessarily punished – but left to fend for ourselves.

We discussed how when things become routine they lose their meaning. David mentioned that perhaps it would be preferable not to live in Jerusalem, so that visiting places such as the Kottel would always feel as special as possible. In Judaism, we have routine mitzvah such as davening which form our base and a platform in which we can have spikes of spirituality on holidays, and other events such as barmitzvah, brit milah, and weddings.

This Shabbos we discussed Israeli independence day known as Yom Ha’atzmaut. This holiday is coming up this week. We discussed how some do not observe this holiday, as they do not feel we have the authority any more to make new holidays. We discussed what it has meant to us and to the world to have Israel around - a nation of people that stand for doing what is right rather than what they have the power to do. Many nations have benefited from Israeli know how, that Hashem has given to the nation and its people.

It is a great mitzvah to make Aliyah and live in Israel. It is thought that the reason we are commanded to follow mitzvah in the diaspora, is so that we are prepared to follow them in Israel. Short of making Aliyah, visiting and/or helping Israel and its people, is considered a big mitzvah.

We also discussed the recent holiday of Yom Hashoah. Dave W shared that he would not be here today if it were not for certain events that took place. I remember visiting the holocaust museum in Jerusalem and it is an experience I will never forget.

Finally, please keep Yaki’s mother, Hanah bat Sarah in your thoughts in prayers. She has not been well.

This is a summary of what we discussed.  No halachic rulings are intended or should be inferred.

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