• Rabbi Rubanowitz

Lag B'Omer - Emor “Rise and Shine”

In introducing the laws of spiritual impurity to the Kohanim,  our Parasha opens with the words: “ Hashem said to Moshe, “Speakto the Kohanim, the sons of Aharon, and say to them”. Rashi, the great Biblical commentator, picks up on the double language: Emor, Vamarta: speak to the Kohanim andsay to them. Why is the word “to say” repeated? Quoting from the Talmud, Rashi answers: “Lehazhir Gedolim al Haketanim”: The adults (Gedolim) must warn the children (Ketanim) about (not) becoming spiritually impure.

Being raised with a serious Jewish education, I can attest to the fact that there are countless more rules and strictures that parents and teachers warned us about as we were brought up to be Torah Jews. I thus never understood why the Torah specifically felt that this particular topic of spiritual impurity was one that required a specialized  “warning” to the parents to “teach the kids”-more than other areas of the Torah (Shabbos, Torah Study, Tzedaka…) ?

As it often is, there may be another way to read the words Rashi shares with us. Rashi uses the word “Lhazhir”-to warn. But Lhazhir might also mean, “”to illuminate”. As in the “Zohar”-ascribed to the great Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai whose memory we are marking this Sunday, on Lag Baomer. Indeed, “Rabi Shimon” illuminated the world, shined a new light on our existence and on our understanding and connection to Torah.  The Zohar and Kabbala truly gave us a window into our world that most of us never realized existed. We look at all of creation differently due to the teachings of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai and the Zohar.

Perhaps that is what the Torah is telling the Kohanim, in charge of the spirituality of their young-but in actuality of the entire nation. Here is how you can succeed in teaching, educating, influencing and impacting all those “Ketanim”-the “younger”, or others less lucky in their education, about the world of spirituality and of meaning: Make sure that the leaders, the teachers, the examples of living and breathing spirituality always illuminate and shine for and to the rest of us. Make sure that we view our leaders, our guides, our mentors as the giants we hope them to be. Kohanim, Rabbis and teachers, mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters and all those who wish and seek to impact others: make sure you yourselves shine. Make sure you are individual “Zohars” that exude and radiate truth and true living! If you do that-you will be guaranteed a next generation that will listen, abide and absorb the lessons of a spiritual life-and do the same for the next. “Lahazhir Gedolim Al Haketabnim”-to beautify the lucky learned ones in the eyes of those who need to learn.

So, with this pre-Lag Baomer message, the day we honor the “hidden light” and “Zohar” of the Torah, I challenge you with this question: Who looks up to you? are you shining brightly enough in their eyes?

Shabbat Shalom Umevorach!

Shalom Rubanowitz