The Weekly Shtikle Blog

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Friday, March 28

The Weekly Shtikle - Shemini

This past Sunday, Yeshivas Ner Yisroel lost yet another of its great ambassadors. R' Moshe Fuller, z"l, only in his 40's, passed away after a long bout with cancer. It was only 2 1/2 years ago that we were mourning the loss of R' Naftoli Neuberger who was nearly single-handedly responsible for rescuing Persian Jewry. Moshe Fuller, was R' Neuberger's South American arm, so to speak. While he was not necessarily rescuing communities from tyrannical governments, he rescued hundreds from the sometimes more daunting depths of disaffiliation and disinterest in Judaism and Torah. He masterminded a program to bring otherwise disconnected Jewish boys and girls from Central and South America to the Yeshivah in the winter or summer (depending on when their summer was) to give them a taste of Torah atmosphere. Many boys eventually stayed to learn in Yeshivah. There are many thriving communities in Latin America, such as the one in Panama which now boasts a kollel, that owe their success to him.
This week's shtikle is dedicated le'iluy nishmaso.

This week's parsha begins on the eighth day of the proceedings leading up to the final setup of the Mishkan. The joy of the day is interrupted by the tragic death of Aharon's sons, Nadav and Avihu. Later on, the parsha deals with the various signs of kashrus pertaining to animals, fish and birds. This is a rather odd transition at first glance. One usually expects to find some sort of common thread between two juxtaposed passages.


The key is one word.


Following the death of Nadav and Avihu, HaShem commands Aharon that he and his sons (and all Kohanim who follow) that they may not drink wine before performing the service or they will be subject to death. The reason for this, as stated in the following pesukim (10:10-11) is, "ulhavdil," so that they may discern between holy and mundane, tamei and tahor. And so they may teach B'nei Yisroel all the laws that HaShem spoke to them through Moshe.


At the end of the parsha, after the discussion of the laws pertaining to the animal kingdom, we are told the reasoning for these laws, (11:37) "lehavdil," so that we may discern between the tamei and tahor, between the animal that is to be eaten and the animal that is not to be eaten. The repetition of "lehavdil" is the essence of the thread that runs through the parsha. First, we are taught of the great burden that the Kohanim carry, the responsibility to judge between holy and mundane and between tamei and tahor. There are certainly many areas where it is only the Kohanim that bear this burden. However, the Torah must impress upon us that each and every Jew carries this responsibility to a certain extent. This is an essential challenge for all Jews. The world has been created with forces of tum'ah and forces of taharah. Through this parsha we see that we have all been provided with the necessary guidelines to tackle this challenge and accurately discern between the holy and mundane, and the tamei and tahor.


In a way, R' Moshe Fuller exemplified this idea in a geographic sense as it relates to Torah. He was driven by the conviction that Torah is for everybody without exception. Some might merit to immerse themselves in Torah all day and some might only get a taste. But no one should be left out. He saw a giant void in the the communities of Latin America. He was never willing to accept this as a reality and he did everything within his powers to extend the reach of Torah to any and all. He leaves behind a tremendous legacy and will be sorely missed by all those who had the pleasure and privilege to know him - and probably by those who did not as well.


Here are some links of interest:
Good Shabbos and may we hear besuros tovos!
Mishenichnas Adar Marbim beSimchah!
Eliezer Bulka


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