Thursday, April 6, 2017

Who Is Praiseworthy?

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The Haftora for parshas Tzav is from the book of Yirmyahu. It begins with a rebuke to the Jewish people for not doing their sacrifices with sincerity, especially the Ola sacrifice (burnt offering). And for not listening to Hashem, or doing what He wants, as if they lost their faith in Him. It ends, telling us not to be self centered, rather, to be focused on understanding Hashem and doing what He wants.

The connection to our parsha, is that parshas Tzav begins with the laws of the Ola, and continues with the laws of other sacrifices. It ends with the seven days that the Kohanim trained and prepared themselves, before the inauguration of the Mishkan. During this process, the Torah repeats over and over again, that they did it the way Hashem commanded. In other words, the focus was on Hashem and what He wanted.

The Haftora says, "So says Hashem, 'The wise man shouldn't praise himself with his wisdom, and the strong man shouldn't praise himself with his strength, the wealthy man shouldn't praise himself with his wealth. Rather, with this he should praise himself, through understanding and knowing Me, that I Am Hashem...'"

Why shouldn't a person be proud of his or her accomplishments?

Rather, this is referring to his general attitude. The verse is coming in continuation of the earlier verses, that talk about being self centered, and not focusing on Hashem. When  someone is self centered, and everything is about him, he is in denial of the fact, that everything he has is truly from Hashem. It is akin to denying His existence, because he doesn't leave room for anyone else, not even Hashem.

However, "through understanding and knowing" Hashem, meaning, when you recognize, that what you have is from Hashem, then you can be proud, if you have used your gifts well, and the way He wants you to. This is the meaning of the words, "with this he should praise himself," when he recognizes that it is all from Hashem, and he is using his gifts the way Hashem wants him to, then he should be proud of his accomplishments. Whether it be wisdom, strength, wealth, or any other gifts bestowed upon him by Hashem.

We see the same idea, in Aishes Chayil. The second to last verse says, "Charm is deceptive, and beauty is for naught, a woman who is G-d fearing should be Praised." Is charm and beauty meaningless? Rather, if all she is about is her charm or beauty, her gifts are a waste, and it isn't praiseworthy. However, "a woman who is G-d fearing should be Praised." When she is G-d fearing, then her charm and beauty have meaning and are real, because her beauty and charm are not superficial, but it comes from the inside out.

When your children or students are gifted with talents or a status such as beauty, charm, smarts, strength, wealth, etc., it is so important to fill with love and fear of Hashem. They should recognize that these precious gifts are from Him, and that they should use these gifts for what He wants. I have found that the best way to instill this value, is not so much by saying it, but rather, by acting that way, by being a living example.

Through being G-d centered, we will definitely make Hashem proud, and we will have what to be proud of. It will affect everything we do, bringing positive change to our surroundings, thereby, preparing the world for the coming of Moshiach. May he come soon.

Dedicated to my wife Dina, who has been working so hard to get us all ready for Pesach, even though I don't have the ability to help much. A true Aishes Chayil, beautiful and charming inside and out. It is an honor to be her husband and friend.


  1. Rav Yitzi, even though we "hear" your sweet voice every Erev Shabbos, it's even more sweet listening to your beautiful recordings on the Hagada! May we be zoche soon to hear your real voice going strong teaching Klal Yisroel and singing together in the honor of Hashem in the presence of Mashiach in the rebuilt Bet Hamikdash!
    Chag Kasher V'Sameach!

  2. I am so inspired by your weekly blog it's true food for the soul