|R'Shlomo on P' Emor-A Priestly Nation|
|Written by Rabbi Sholom Brodt|
I learned the following teaching from Reb Shlomo ztz"l. It is based on the first teaching in the Mei Hashiloach [from the Ishbitzer Rebbe] on this week's parsha. But first it must be clear to everyone that, as we have already learned, the mitzvot of 'tummah' and 'taharah' essentially belong to the category of "chukkim", mitzvot which we would not have arrived at just by our own understanding. In other words we don't really understand why Hashem gave us these "chukkim" mitzvot. Nevertheless Chassidut - the collected teachings of the Chassidic masters, does give us some insight into these mitzvot, so that we can understand, a little bit, how to apply them to our own lives, in our service of Hashem.
Every mitzvah in the Torah applies to every single Jewish person. Even the mitzvot that are specific to 'kohanim', apply to every one of us. This is so because every single mitzvah has three dimensions: 'machshavah' - thought and understanding, 'deebur' - speech, and 'ma-a-seh' action.
The mitzvot that are specific to the 'kohanim' are specific to them only in 'ma-a-seh' action. In 'machshavah' and 'deebur', thought and speech, all mitzvot apply to all of us. We 'fulfill' our part in these mitzvot through 'machshavah and deebur' thought and speech.
We are all 'kohanim' as it says in the covenant of the 'giving of the Torah': "and you shall be unto Me a kingdom of 'kohanim' and a holy nation." Exodus 19. Thus in a sense Hashem is commanding [softly whispering to] each one of us as well, not to become 'tamei' from the 'meit' the dead. What does it mean to be a 'Kohen'? What does it mean to be 'tamei'? A 'Kohen' believes that everything that transpires is all through Divine Providence, "Hashgacha pratit". A 'Kohen' believes that everything that Hashem is doing is only good, for Hashem is Good, and the nature of Good is to do good.
However, when confronted by illness and death, 'chas v'shalom' we may get angry and we may have complaints about what Hashem is putting us through. When we have complaints towards Hashem we are 'tamei'. We cannot enter the Mishkan, we cannot bring a 'Korban', and we cannot be close to Hashem, while we are 'tamei'.
In addition to bringing the offerings to the altar, the 'Kohen' [most of all] was there to help us come close to Hashem again. As the Levites were playing music, the 'Kohen' would talk with the Yiddeleh who was bringing the 'Korban', to help him feel close to Hashem again, and to help him realize how holy he really is.
As a people, the B'nai Yisrael, the Children of Israel are the 'kohanim' to the world. It is our responsibility to help everyone come close to Hashem, to help everyone realize how holy they are and can be, to help everyone to live in peace and harmony. This is not an easy task, but we can't quit, for we are in a covenant with Hashem. We are B'nai Brit, the Children of the Covenant.
To accomplish our roles as 'kohanim', we ourselves need to be close to Hashem. To be close to Hashem you also need to have "ahavat Hashem" love of Hashem. It is very hard to be confronted by death frequently, without getting angry. So Hashem is whispering into our ears "please try not be angry with Me". There is a part of reality that is too painful to live with all the time. Even the 'Kohen', who believes that everything is from Hashem, and that everything that He is doing is 'good', is only human. Even the 'Kohen' becomes 'tamei' sometimes. Yet we have to learn how not to be angry, how not to have complaints. We must not lose our love for Hashem.