Parshas Behar


I. A higher level of service

1. ‘When you will make a sale to one of your people or you will purchase something from the hand of one of your people’ (V’yikra* 25.14) Being occupied with one’s livelihood as also considered a service of HaShem* and [is a part of the] Torah*. The reason is that there are many laws involved with making ones livelihood. The Baal Shem Tov ZT’L* said, that the person who learns the law ‘One who exchanges a cow for a donkey’, is beloved by HaShem [since he is learning HaShem’s Torah.] How much more so is that person who actually does ‘exchange a cow for a donkey’ and he follows all the laws that the Torah has for such exchanges. This type of service is even higher then the one who only learns about it [and does not actually do it.] The reason is that everything in this world was only created for the honor of HaShem. From the smallest thing to the largest thing, everything must conform to the Torah. [For this reasons] from everything that exists [in this world] one is able to serve HaShem. [This is true since everything has something in the Torah that relates to it.]   In everything that exists one can see the wonders of HaShem and how His wisdom is contained in everything. And even on the most simple level, we can see that everything has some Torah law or idea that relates to it. [For example] we are told to measure correctly products for sale, and by so doing we also perform a mitzvah*. Chazal* also teach us that one who sits and does not do a sin it is counted as if he did a mitzvah.  

Therefore if one acts with this understanding, then he is occupied continually in the Torah, even if he should be occupied with his livelihood. (p. 440 sefer Baal Shem Tov teachings of the Baal Shem Tov.)

* * *

II. Serving HaShem as a servant.

2. ‘For Me the children of Israel are servants, they are My servants who I have taken out of the land of Egypt.’ (V’yikra 25.55) I heard from the Holy Light, the Rebbe Reb* Ber of Mezritch, an explanation of the following teaching of Chazal. They taught that when HaShem gave the Torah to the Jewish people He held a mountain over them and said, ‘If you will accept my Torah then all is well, and if not you shall be buried here.’ [He asked with regards to this,] it is difficult to understand the meaning, since the Jewish people had just said, ‘we will listen and we will do.’ And from their own desire they had accepted upon themselves to follow the laws of the Torah. [Why was there a need to hold the mountain over them?] The answer is that because they had been on such a high spiritual level and had perceived the greatness of HaShem, they said ‘we will listen and we will do.’ [According to Chazal when HaShem saw this He said] ‘who revealed to them this secret [that one should accept to listen/obey to the laws of the Torah even before he has heard them.] This is the language that the ministering angels use…’ [What they answered showed that they were beyond the level that normal men served HaShem on, and they were approaching that of the Holy angels.] HaShem therefore showed to them that even though it shall happen that they shall descend from the high spiritual level they are on, and descend to one on a much lower level, they are not free from serving HaShem. He then held a mountain above them to show them they were required to serve Him even if they could not feel the same enjoyment in this service as they did when they were on the high level they attained when they received the Torah. (Until here are his words. The words of the wise are pleasant.) This is the meaning of this verse:  ‘For Me the children of Israel’ i.e. everything should be done for His name’s sake [i.e. for Me.] ‘Are servants.’ This means that even though they are servants, i.e. on a low level like servants [as opposed to the level of children] they are still required to serve Him according to whatever level they are on.  And He will be pleased with that service. ‘They are My servants who I have taken out of the land of Egypt.’ When He took them out of the land of Egypt. He had at that time given them the mitzvos of the Passover sacrifice and circumcision while they were in Egypt. [These mitzvos] were still pleasing to Him [even though they were on a low spiritual state, as the Midrash* says both these (the Jewish people) and those (the Egyptians) are idolaters.] This was true even though they were on the low level of ‘servant’. The verse ends, ‘I am HaShem your G-d.’ He is HaShem even when they are on a low level of service and they are required to serve Him that level.  (p. 263 sefer Orach L’Chaim teachings of Rebbe* Avraham Chaim

of Zlotchov.)

* * *
III. Never give up

3. ‘After he has been sold, he shall have a redemption, one of his brothers will redeem him.’ (V’yikra 25.48) It appears to me that the Holy Torah is trying to show us that when a person should see that he is on a very low level of service to HaShem, and he will feel that there is no longer any hope for him, he should not give up on himself. Even though he is sold [to his Yetzer HaRah* and is within it’s power] there will certainly be a redemption for him, and there is still hope for him.   This is the meaning of the verse: ‘After he has been sold.’  After he has been separated, i.e. he has been sold and separated into the service of his Yetzer HaRah. Even though this is the case ‘he shall have a redemption, one of his brothers shall redeem him.’ The Talmud* says that ‘they do not become diminished from their preciousness to Him until they are considered like brothers.’ This is the meaning of ‘one of his brothers,’ the Jewish people are called the ‘brothers’ of HaShem. [HaShem will redeem them.] (p.  138 sefer Or L’Shamayim

teachings of Rebbe Meir of Apt.)

* * * IV. Humility

4. ‘HaShem spoke to Moshe on Mount Sinai saying, Speak to the children of Israel and say to them.’ (V’yikra 25.1-2)   [According to Chazal] HaShem chose Mount Sinai [as the place to give the Torah] because it was the smallest of the mountains. Since that is the case it would have been better if he chose out a deep valley [to give the Torah], and not a mountain at all. However there is here a remez* to an important concept [in the service of HaShem.] Sometimes it is necessary for a person to be on the level of ‘raise your heart up in the service of HaShem.’ For that reason HaShem chose out Mount Sinai which was a small mountain. However it was a little bit tall to teach this idea. [One should have a little ‘conceit’ in him at times to use in serving HaShem.] The same thing is here with these verses. HaShem spoke both soft and hard words. [The verse uses the hebrew words ‘dabar’ and ’emor’ which Chazal say indicate both strong and soft speech.] First words of reproach to lower them [in their own eyes] and then soft words to raise them up.   This is the meaning of the next verse, ‘when you will enter the land’. [The idea of land/earth] indicates humility. ‘The land will have a Shabbos [rest] for Hashem.’ This indicates that they should be raised up. ‘Shabbos’ is a remez for this since [as it says in the seforim*] on Shabbos the heart feels raised up and is joyful.

This is the general rule with regards to humility. You should not come to depression through it, but to a level where your heart is raised up in joy to HaShem. This is the true level of humility. (p. 124 sefer Divrei Yisroel teachings of Rebbe Yisroel of Modzitz.)



Arizal: Hebrew initials of the words: Adoni Rabbenu Yitzchok    Zechorono LeVaracha our master Rabbi Yitzchok. Better known as    Yitzchok Luria the great 16th century Kabbalist
Chazal: Hebrew initials for: Chochmenu Zichrona Levaracha (Our sages of Blessed memory) Used to refer to Rabbis of the Talmud.
HaShem: Noun used in place of G-d. Lit. The Name
HY’D: Heb. HaShem Yimkom Domov: HaShem should avenge their blood.
Mishleh: One of the books of the Tenach, called in English Proverbs.
Mitzvah (mitzvos): One of the commandments of the Torah.
nashama: Hebrew word for soul.
peshat: A method of Biblical interpretation based on finding the simple meaning in the Torah.
Rashi: The primary commentary on the Tenach.
Rebbe: Leader of a Chassidic group or a teacher
Shabbos: Tractate in the Talmud
Shemos: Second book of the Torah. Called Exodus in English
Talmid (Talmidim): Disciples of a Rebbe.
Talmud: An ancient work of Jewish law.
Tehillim: Hebrew name for Psalms.
Torah: a. First 5 books of the Jewish Bible            b. Also refers to the whole of Jewish law            c. also common term for a chassidic teaching

Tshuva: Hebrew word for repentance

Tzaddik (Tzaddikim): lit. Righteous. Another name for a Chassidic Rebbe.
Yetzer: lit. Inclination. It is Jewish belief that every Jew has both an evil and good inclination within him, that are at ‘war’ to see which of them the person will follow.
Yetzer Tov: Heb. Good Inclination
Yetzer HaRah: Heb. Evil Inclination.
ZT’L: Hebrew initials of the words: Zechor Tzaddik LeVaracha (The memory of a Tzaddik – Righteous person is a blessing.)
ZY’A: Hebrew initials of the words: Zechiso Yagan Aleinu (His merit should protect us.)
Copyright (c) 1997 by Moshe Shulman ([email protected]) All rights reserved.

Issur Hasugas Givilv


Some Laws Concerning Mezuzah

A mezuzah must be written in a very specific way. As time passes, it sometimes happens that the mezuzah will become damaged. Even a tiny crack in a letter can invalidate the mezuzah. Therefore, the proper practice is to have one’s mezuzos checked twice every seven years. This checking should be done by a qualified sofer (scribe).


Some Laws Concerning Mezuzah

Before being affixed, the Mezuzah is placed in a cover or case, made of glass, wood, metal, plastic or any other material. Care should also be taken not to put the Scroll of the Mezuzah in the case upside-down.


The Cantonists The Jewish Children’s Army of The Tsar by Larry Domnitch

The concluding Neilah prayer on Yom Kippur, represents the final chance through fervent and impassioned prayer to appeal to the mercy of the Almighty. One short prayer at one particular moment on one Yom Kippur at Neilah encapsulated a tragic era in Jewish History, and moved an entire congregation to tears. Abraham Lewin, the author of a book in Yiddish entitled, Kantonisten, (Cantonists) related an incident on Yom Kippur involving a Cantonist in a synagogue in an unnamed Russian city.

The Cantonists were child-recruits in the Russian military. The Russian Tzar, Peter the Great, devised the system in which young men were drafted to serve in the military for prolonged terms. Tzar Nicholas Pavolovich (1827-1855) used this system as a vehicle to force Jewish children to accept Baptism. The children were literally stolen from their homes in the shtetles and forced to serve long extended terms as trainees and then as soldiers when they reached the age of eighteen. They faced severe pressure by all means including torture to accept baptism. Prior Russian Tzars may have repeatedly failed to induce the Jews of the Pale Settlement to abandon their faith, but Nicholas was determined to enforce his will upon the children.

The fact that this particular Cantonist entered a shul on Yom Kippur indicates that he most probably had never succumbed to the enormous pressure to accept Baptism. Had he undergone Baptism, he would have been officially listed as a Christian and prohibited from ever entering a synagogue during the reign of Nicholas.

Levin relates that the congregation appointed the Cantonist to lead the Neilah (concluding) prayers — the most hallowed moment of the year. This was a great honor, especially for a guest. The gesture clearly demonstrated one of great admiration for the man who tenaciously held on to his faith at all costs.

The soldier of Tzar Nicholas made his way to the front of the shul. Having forgotten almost all the religious training he had received as a child including the ability to read Hebrew, he could not recite, nor lead the Neilah prayers. However, before the congregation, he expressed a powerful prayer from the heart, which shook the entire congregation. He proclaimed, “Father in Heaven, what shall I pray for? I can not pray for children for I never got married and have no hope to raise a family, I am too old to start anew. I can’t pray for life, for what value is such a life? It would be better for me if I died. I can not pray to be able to make a living since Nicholas provides for my daily food. The only thing I can pray for is, “Yisgadal VeYoiskadash Shmei Rabah” meaning “May your name be blessed forever” (from the Kaddish).

When hearing these words, the entire congregation wept. They wept over the plight of the poor individual and his difficult life of travail. They also wept for the tens of thousands of other Cantonists who were forced to endure the same hardships, as well as their families, and communities who were forced to endure the losses of so many of their sons and brothers. Many Cantonists had died from the rigors, or had accepted Baptism, others were simply lost in Siberia hundreds of miles away from their homes. All Jewish communities of Russia were faced with the Tzars’ quotas of providing recruits.

The Tzar issued the orders, the leaders of each town’s Kahal (Jewish communal organization) which for the most part perceived non-compliance as not an option, provided the recruits, and the Chappers (kidnappers) did the dirty work of the Kahal for a fee. Many Kahal leaders could not simply argue that they had no choice. It was the poor, who were the recruits, and many Kahal officials profited from payments from the wealthy for their sons’ exemptions. How demoralizing and traumatizing that era was for the Jews of Russia! That too was no doubt part of Nicholas’ strategy. All Jews who lived under the Tzar’s rule were no doubt effected by the horrors of this era.

On Yom Kippur, at the moment of Neilah, a congregation was confronted with the horrors of that era by the heartfelt words of a true hero. A hero who was one of thousands who stood against Nicholas and displayed a type of heroism unusual for adults, let alone children. In his own words, he added untold significance to that moment of Neilah. He reminded the congregation of the sinners, and the many heroes of that era. On that Yom Kippur day, the moment of Neilah was truly one of reckoning and regret for all those present.