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Parshat Emor / Erev Lag BaOmer

By: Rabbi Jason Knapel

"People are not perfect" This is not a chidush of mine but a reality that often we forget when judging ourselves and others. Hashem did not make us perfect. We have drives, passions, limitations and bad middot. We often know what is right and yet do the wrong thing. This is part of the human condition. Hashem created us with flaws but also with the ability to grow and correct those flaws. Our goal is to STRIVE for perfection even if we fall short. As I have said many times - if you shoot for the stars at least you will hit the moon (in some cases you just might make it off the ground but that is better than nothing).

This concept might not have been understood at first by Rasb"i (Rebbe Shimon Bar Yochi whose yahrziet is on Sunday). When he left his place of hiding the first time he saw two Jews farming the land he was so incensed by the fact that they were wasting time from learning (the thing that he just sacrificed himself for) he looked at them and they "burned up". It was only after Hashem told him to go back into the cave that he realized that not all people are %100 committed in the same way he was %100 of the time (as to were they wrong and he was right - that is a different story). However there is an importance to seeing perfection and realizing that it exist. Without seeing the ideal in a real sense we do not know where we are striving. We can't get from point a to point b without knowing where point b is and if we never see the model of what we can be we will never even come close to it - we will never even hit the moon.

That is why the parsha emphasizes the status of the Kohanim. Although in real life many of the Kohanim (during Bayit Sheni) were far from examples of Kedusha - the ideal Kohen was the "Uber Jew" He dedicated his entire life to Hashem. He was considered so close that he could not even become Tamei - because that would take him away from his Avodah and his striving. He was forbidden to marry anyone with a taint of impropriety - because he was supposed to be the role model, the shining example of what every Jew can become. The Kohen therefore had no land of his own - he was spread throughout Eretz Yisrael not only because he was the teacher of Bnei Yisrael, but that people should see examples of Kedusha and Taharah before their own eyes and strive to emulate them.

Our Generation is lacking in accessible role models from whom we can see this perfection. In days of old there were many Gedolim and tzadikim who lived amongst all of Bnei Yisrael - in the plain towns and cities so people could see where the next level in middot, torah knowledge, tzidkut and shmirat Halacha were. In the world we live in today we do not have access to many of these people and often when they do reside in our communities we feel they are no great shakes(in my community there is a plain guy who works in computers without semicha - if only I can be as observant learned dedicated and caring as him….) That being said we need to strive even without the role models for greatness and perfection - we need to increase what we do, not rely on the phrase of "at least I do X or at least I am better than Y" we should not be doing the least - we should be striving for greatness in our Avodah - whether we be the next gadol baTorah or he next lawyer, doctor etc…Hopefully if we all strive for greatness - Hashem will restore the greatness of Klal Yisrael and we will be zocheh to see our Kohanim working in the Beit HaMikdash Beimherah BeYamenu

Shabbat Shalom