Past Weekly Shabbat Message
Rabbi Dovid Saks
(Torah Portion Archai Mos) Attitude!
The Torah commands that when a Jew ritually slaughters any species of birds such as a chicken or turkey, or a non-domesticated Kosher animal, such as a deer, he must cover the blood with sand, sawdust or the like. A blessing is recited before covering the blood.
The Talmud teaches us that if the blood became covered without human intervention, for example, the wind blew sand over the blood, no further action need be taken.
However the Talmud says that one may not use his foot to move the sand to cover the blood, for that would display that Mitzvos are demeaning and unbecoming to him.
Let’s examine this a bit. We may ask, “What’s the difference between using a foot or a hand to cover the blood? Bottom line is the blood is covered and the job is done.”
From this law we see that G-d doesn’t just want the job done. He wants the person to perform the Mitzvah in a dignified way, for that is the way to serve the Almighty. Additionally, doing the Mitzvah in a dignified way inculcates within the person the respect, dignity and value of the Mitzvah and this approach spreads to the proper treatment of other Mitzvos as well.
This doesn’t only apply to the actual performance of Mitzvos but even to one’s mindset and opinions about Mitzvos. If one’s attitude is positive and there is a feeling of excitement, then the Mitzvah becomes alive with special energy. However, if one has a glum and distasteful outlook towards Mitzvos, then that’s what it’s going to be.
Rabbi Moshe Feinstein o.b.m. would point out that the Yiddish expression prevalent many years ago, “It’s hard to be a Jew,” had an adverse effect on the next generation. For it led the children to feel, “Why should I bother with observance, if it is so difficult for my folks?”
The Talmud teaches us that any Mitzvah the Jews originally accepted with joy, is continually done with joy. Bris – Circumcision is an example of this. We notice the broad cross section of Jews still performing Bris with great joy and celebration.
Everyone will agree that the Holiday of Pesach requires effort; effort to clean; effort to change over the Kitchen from Chometz to Pesach; and the expense and the change in our eating habits.
One can complain about it and listen to others grumble about it, or, one can take the positive route and feel the excitement, uplift and energy that Pesach has.
When one exudes excitement and positivity about something and he spiritually enjoys it, the energy can be infectious to others.
My mother, of blessed memory, was one who had this special ability to add excitement, joy and happiness to all she did – especially when it came to preparing, cooking and serving for the holidays. Her enthusiasm and love of enhancing Mitzvos was remarkable and delightful.
I’ll share with you something that I had heard from a great Rabbi, Rabbi Moshe Neushloss o.b.m., that left an impression on me.
Rabbi Neushloss was presenting an outline of the practical laws of Pesach to his congregation. He brought up the issue of whether vitamins can be taken on Pesach. (There is much discussion concerning as to whether the ingredients of Kosher vitamins are indeed kosher for Passover.)
“In my opinion,” declared Rabbi Neushloss in his rich voice, “One should not take vitamins on Pesach. And you should know that the best vitamin taken during Pesach is - Matzah! Because the Zohar – our Kaballa refers to Matzah as the food of healing!”
During Pesach, Matzah is not just a replacement for bread; it is a Mitzvah that has all types of benefits. Eating matzah together with not eating Chometz during Pesach can be compared to an immunization regimen that serves to protect us both spiritually and physically throughout the year.
The only thing that may be contagious… is our positive approach and enjoyment that we have during the Holiday of Pesach!
Wishing you a restful, peaceful
and enjoyable Shabbos!
Rabbi Dovid and Malki Saks and family