Emor 5784: Out of this World Experience

ר׳ משה בן יששכר ז״ל
נלב״ע בפסח שני י״ד אייר תשמ״ו
Dedicated in loving memory of
R’ Moshe Stern z”l

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Shiur presented in 5783 & 5770

  • Part 1: Out of this World Experience (5783)
  • Part 2: How Much Do We Value Shabbos? (5770)

Parshas Emor:

Part 1: Out of this World Experience (5783)

Part 2: How Much Do We Value Shabbos? (5770)

The Origin of the Mekallel

The Torah tells us a story about a person in the midbar who cursed Hashem and they put him in prison. That was a very rare occurrence. The prison system wasn’t common. It wasn’t common at all in Klal Yisrael. They put him in prison until it would be clear what his din was. When they found out that he was supposed to get sekilah, everybody subjected him to sekeilah.

It says ויצא בן אישה ישראלית, a son of a Jewish woman went out, והוא בן איש מצרי, and he was the son of a Mitzri (Vayikra 24:10). This is a big story. It started from when Moshe Rabbeinu, at the beginning of his career, when he was a bar mitzvah bachur, went out to see Klal Yisrael and witnessed an Egyptian beating a Jew. Moshe Rabeinu stepped forward and he put the Mitzri down. He put him to rest forever. That evil Mitzri man was trying to beat to death this Jewish man, whose wife he had assaulted the night before. She became pregnant from the Mitzri and had a child. The child was Jewish. This fellow followed his mother’s path and he attached himself to the Jewish nation and he went through the episode of yetzias Mitzrayim.

An Embarrassing Encounter

One day this fellow grew up and he had a challenge. This challenge he got into was with another Jewish person whose father was Jewish. What happened was he came to move into the neighborhood of his mother’s tribe. His mother was from Shevet Dan and he wanted to take up residence with his mother. So this other man, a Jewish man with a Jewish father, told him that he wasn’t welcome to live in the camp with the Jewish nation. His father’s not from Shevet Dan. He was Mitzri. The guy tells him he’s got to move out. These are all things we could relate to. It’s not far out, esoteric things.

Now, we can understand that that’s humiliating. It’s belittling. This guy was one of these sticklers to the halachah, one of these black and white fellows. And he told him, “You got to go.”

So, ‘ויקב בן האישה הישראלית את ה, “and the son of the Israelite woman cursed Hashem” (v. 11). You hear that? He said the name of Hashem. He said the name of Hashem which he had heard at Sinai, as Rashi says. And then he uttered a curse against Hashem. That was a funny response because the guy wasn’t in a fight with Hashem. The guy’s argument was with another Jew. So if anything he should have cursed the other Jew. He gets angry at Hashem over here?

The mefarshim explain that the ben ish Mitzri got angry at Hashem because the Jew reminded him that, “Your father was laid to rest by Moshe uttering the shem hameforash.” That’s how Moshe got rid of this fellow. Or the pshat is the guy was sticking the halachah to him in the face. You know sometimes, a guy comes over to you and says, “You know what the Shulchan Aruch says? You know what Hashem says? You’re not allowed to talk in shul.” So the guy gets angry at Hashem, not the guy who told him off. The one who made that law gets him ticked off. So this guy also got ticked off, and uttered a curse against Hashem.

Where he Went out of – Three Opinions

Now, the passuk begins with the words ויצא בן אישה הישראלית. What does that mean? What’s the translation of those words? ויצא בן אישה הישראלית? Pashtus it means he “went out.” But what does it mean he went out? The Ibn Ezra says you know what he went out of? He went out from his tent. After he moved into the neighborhood and he parked himself there and unpacked all his stuff, he went out to check out the neighborhood. ויצא בן אישה הישראלית. But if you look in Rashi, he quotes from Chazal who says, מהיכן יצא, where did he go out from? So it says, רב לוי אמר, Rav Levi says, “he went out of his world.” You hear that? Have you ever heard of a person going out of his world? I heard of people going out of their minds. That I heard of. I heard people going out of yeshivah. That I heard of too. I never heard of a person going out of his world.[i]

The next opinion cited by Chazal says, “he went out of the previous parshah.” The previous parshah talks about the lechem hapanim, which they had a special shulchan for in the Mishkan. They had these breads that were put on the shulchan on Shabbos and taken off the following Shabbos. When the fellow heard about this, he decided to bring out his good humor. He made leitzanus and he said, “Is this what a king eats? Is this what a melech in the Mishkan eats? You serve bread that was there for so many days? Who does that?” So ויצא means he came away from this parshah and said his cute leitzanus.

The third opinion says that he went out of the beis din of Moshe Rabbeinu. What does that mean? Because when he came to move into the neighborhood of Dan, one of the fellows who met him asked him, מַה טִּיבְךָ לְכָאן? (“what gives you the right to come here?”)

The gemara (Pesachim 4a) says that Dan’s nature was very much black and white halachah.[ii] The gemara says in Pesachim there was a man, who every time you got into a discussion with him you know what he would say? “Let’s go to beis din. Let’s go to court.” The gemara says they researched that guy’s history to find out where he comes from because who talks like that? Most people don’t talk like that. When you have a discussion with someone you say, “Let’s go to beis din?” No. Most people don’t say that. So they checked out this man and they found that משבט דן קאתי. He came from Shevet Dan. Dan was very medakdek. So this fellow who met him told him, “Al pi halachah,are you allowed to be here or not?” The guy said, “My mother is from Shevet Dan.” They said, “Who cares? The passuk says lebeis avosam.” So they went to court. They went to Moshe Rabbeinu’s court. You know what Moshe Rabbeinu said? “I’m sorry, but you have no legal rights to live in this neighborhood.” Oooh. So the guy got ticked off. Amad vegidef, he got up and he cursed Hashem. He was cursing the halachah.

That’s how people are. People get angry at the halachos. When halachah doesn’t agree with people, people sometimes get all bent out of shape.

We have to understand something with this medrash, with these three opinions. Why are there three different opinions as to where the guy “went out” of? Why doesn’t it say the pashut pshat? He went out of his tent. He went out of his house. Like the Ibn Ezra says, יצא מאהלו, he went out of his tent.

Chazal are teaching us something here. When you’re living mamash with Hakadosh Baruch Hu’s presence – you have the amud eish, the amud anan, and you’re living in such an elevated hashra’as hashechinah situation, how does a person fall to such a degrading matzav that he mentions Hashem’s name, the shem hameforash and he curses Hashem’s name?! That doesn’t happen from walking out of your house. Chazal reveal to us that it happens from something much deeper and something much more sinister. A story like that has to have very unique beginnings.

The Chiyuv to Guard Your Personal World

Rav Levi said, “You know where it came from? Meiolamo yatza.” Now what does that mean? So Rabbeinu Bachaye says that meiolamo yatza means every person is a small world.[iii] Did you ever think of yourself as a small world? You may have thought of yourself as a small person, as a small human being. Some people think of themselves as grasshoppers. By the meraglim it says that. But a small world? Yes. You’re a world. A person, he says, is the king in that word. You’re the ruler in that world. A person has a responsibility to maintain himself in his world and to make sure he doesn’t go out of his world. Throughout a person’s entire life, he has to be shomer himself, to guard and maintain himself, and not engage in behavior that takes him out of his world. Most people think that, “Nah, I’m never gonna be out of my world. I’m not out of my world. I’m a person who behaves this way, but I’ll be okay the rest of my life even when I’ll do aveiros. I’ll do this. I’ll do that.” You have to know that a person could lose his world quite easily. And this בן אישה ישראלית went out of his world.

Now, he never planned on leaving his world and doing such terrible things, and cursing Hashem. It was unheard of! You’re with Hashem and you curse Hashem?! It’s something I can’t even imagine. Today, if a guy curses Hashem, chas v’shalom, he doesn’t know what Hashem is. He thinks Hashem is another being. So he curses Hashem. It’s all the same to him. But then? When he was exposed to real closeness with Hashem? How was it possible?

This means he wasn’t careful. When a person walks out into the world, and he becomes exposed to challenges, he has to be ready for them to come at him. Throughout your life you will hear of scandalous episodes, people behaving in a way that is almost unbelievable. It’s almost unimaginable to think how a person could do such behavior.

I heard of these scandals all my life. So many people appeared to be respectable people. And they fell. You know why that happened? Because they weren’t shomer themselves. They thought they’re a muchzak. They said to themselves, “I am good to go. I can’t fall. I can’t have that yeridah.” So you’re not shomer yourself, and you don’t watch yourself. And when you don’t watch yourself and you’re not careful, you have to know, like the Mesillas Yesharim says, you’re walking at the edge of a cliff.

I read about a couple of episodes of fools who decided to take their pictures with their phone. So one lady walked over to the edge of a cliff, she put one foot out and then she put the camera in front of herself and she took a picture. But she forgot that a cliff has a very big drop and she ended up dead. This other chacham, a young man, decided to climb a mountain. He made it to the pinnacle. I saw a picture of this mountain. The picture itself scared me. It was one of these unbelievably high peaks. The guy decided to do a handstand on this peak of the mountain. He obviously was in good shape. But he wasn’t shomer himself. The next thing he knew he was hurtling down. He was competing with the se’ir leAzazel.

Now that’s called yatza meiolamo. You’re not shomer yourself, you’re yotzei meiolamo. You have to know that every person – not only if your father is a goy – could fall into this trap. Even if your father is a Yid, you could fall into this trap. A human being who does not guard himself in his world can do awful things.

In the last month, I was called a number of times for situations where very respectable people, people who had a lot of kavod, derech eretz, teachers of Torah, people who are mechazek others, were yotzei meolamam. A number of people called me over and they said, “How is it shayach?” I said, “If you’re not shomer yourself, that’s what happens. That’s what happens.” It’s like a guy taking selfies on the edge of a cliff with one foot hanging off the cliff.

The first lesson over here is you’ve got to know, don’t leave your world. Don’t engage in dangerous behavior. Don’t engage in careless behavior. Be very careful and not careless. It’s heartbreaking.

The Danger of Leitzanus

And the gemara says there’s another reason the guy fell so low. You know what that was? He made leitzanus. He heard about the halachah of lechem hapanim, and to his mind, somehow, it was cute. It was funny. This is how you respect Hashem? “Nine day old bread is what you’re serving the king? This is what you’re offering the kohanim in the Beis Hamikdash?” Nu, the guy made leitzanus. ליצנות אחת דוחה מאה תוכחות. You have to know if a person has in himself the koach of leitzanus the guy will end up making a mistake and not knowing when to make the leitzanus and when not to make the leitzanus,and he’sgoing to make leitzanus at the wrong time.

I was once at a bris and I asked the father of the baby, “Who are you giving the sandakaus to?” He told me he’s giving it to his father. I told him, “Don’t give it to your father under any circumstances.” He said, “Why not?” I said, “Because your father, you should excuse me, is a rasha and if you give it to him you’re being makriv your kid to the Molech! I’m telling you your kid is not going to have a chance to grow up frum.” “Nah,” he said. “Rebbi, you’re getting extreme. You’re always dramatic.” I said, “I’m trying to save your life.”

Now at the bris, during the sandakaus, this rasha tried to compete with ויפתח ה’ את פי האתון, and he opened his mouth and he started making leitzanus about the bris. I had to control myself. I was thinking of feeding him a knuckle sandwich right there, to start his seudah earlier. I remember the hairs on my neck stood up. He was mamash melagleg. I said, “This kid doesn’t stand a chance.” He never did stand a chance. The kid became frei at 13. It was bad news!

Just recently, I had another story where somebody called me up and told me about his son. Actually, first, the son called me up secretly. This bachur was a very good bachur in a yeshivah, but he told me he has a strong interest in being rich. He comes from a family that’s very frum and has no shaychus to anything modern. He told me he likes to have nice clothing. The kid was torn. I spoke to him. The father called me up and said to me “My son wants to go to a therapist to discuss.” I said, “Who was your son’s sandek?” He told me. I said, “What kind of behavior does that person exhibit?” He said, “Exactly the behavior my son exhibits.” He said, “The man is sitting on ten million dollars, and all day long, and all night long, his wife has to listen to him complain about how poor he is and how tight he is and how he doesn’t have enough money.” And he likes clothing and he likes shtusim vehavalim. You hear that? The man insisted he become the sandek, so the father was makriv him on that mizbeach. Of course, you don’t want to make any issues, any fights. You don’t want to have any. So the kid now has to suffer.

A person has to know that there are certain people who have a nature of looking for the mockery, for the weakness, in anything that’s chashuv. It’s almost like a nature. No matter what you tell them, they always have a way of twisting it and making it a shtickel leitzanus. Even if they don’t mean to be mevazeh the zach but they have to make that joke. They can’t control themselves. They have to make that joke.

The gemara says in Bava Kama (50b), there was a person who was clearing rocks off his property, and throwing them into the street. A chassid echad was walking down the street and watching this guy doing this. He turns to him and says, “Reika, you empty keili, you empty vessel,” he tells him. “Why are you removing these rocks from a domain that is not yours and putting them into a domain that is yours?” The chassid meant that the man’s private property might one day no longer be his, while he will always use the reshus harabim. But the guy didn’t understand. So the guy started to make jokes. He was melagleg. “What does the chassid understand? I have to clear the rocks off my property. So what if I put them in the public domain? What’s so bad?” Then the gemara says after a while the guy was forced to sell his field, And one day he was walking in that public domain where he had thrown the rocks and  tripped over those rocks. He said, “יפה אמר לי אותו חסיד – That chassid was right.”

That’s the derech of a leitz. If a leitz doesn’t understand somethingת he mocks it.

The mekalel in our parshah had the koach of leitzanus. He mocked the lechem hapanim. And that mockery brought him down to such a low madreiga that he could even curse Hashem

Falling when the Ego is Hurt

And the third reason Chazal tell us the guy got ticked off, was because Moshe Rabbeinu’s beis din paskened that the other guy who told him mussar was right. You know what happened over there? Somebody touched his ego. The koach of an ego of a person is very great and a person who is otherwise a decent person, and makes good choices in life, if his ego gets touched it drags down his behavior. I’ve seen many people who received a psak from a beis din and it’s amazing how when the beis din doesn’t pasken the way they think beis din should pasken, they mamash get so upset at that beis din.

I can’t tell you how many times people have called me and said, “Rabbi Brog, you surely know that that beis din is a crooked beis din.” I said, “No, I don’t know.” “Nah, everybody knows that they’re mamash a ganav beis din. For a few dollars they’ll pasken anyway you want.” I said, “You’re trying to tell me that that beis din really held you were right, but what happened was the other guy gave them money, and all the rabbanim and dayanim took the money and then they decided to pasken against you? Is that what you’re trying to tell me?!” I said, “Don’t take this personally but you’re a very sick man. What are you talking about? You want to tell me that the beis din is not so smart. A shtickel amaratzus. That maybe you can say. When you go to beis din both sides have to pay for beis din. You pay for the time that beis din spent on the case.”

The Solution: Working on our Middos

A person has to know, if you don’t have control of your middos and you don’t have control of yourself, you’re alul to destroy yourself completely. A person has to know himself. You have to be shomer yourself. You have to be aware. Too many people lose their lives and they leave their worlds during their lifetime simply because their middos were challenged.

The Bottom Line

The Midrash mentions several reasons the מקלל fell so low to the point that he cursed Hashem – each of the reasons teaching us an important lesson. R’ Levi says the מקלל “went out of his world.” That means he did not safeguard his behavior. Every person is at risk of falling if they do not guard their ruchniyus. We have to make sure we engage only in ethical and noble behavior.  Lehavdil, hanging off the cliff while holding a phone and trying to take a selfie, skydiving without a parachute, and similar irrational behaviors, bring tragic results. That is exactly what we do if we engage in behavior that could lead to a yeridah. The second opinion in Midrash says he fell to his low madreiga through mockery or leitzanus. Many people have an innate tendency in their nefesh to mock anything chashuv. If we don’t understand something, we tend to mock that thing or that person. So, too, the מקלל in our parshah, mocked the lechem hapanim. Mockery can bring a person down to a level so low that he could curse Hashem r”l. A third reason was that his ego was hurt when Moshe Rabbeinu paskened the halacha against him. A decent person could make good choices in life, but if his ego is touched, he could act irrationally. This coming week, as I interact with people and go about my daily routine, I will ask myself: “Am I being extra careful to do what is right and good, acting with ethical, virtuous conduct? Do I have a tendency to minimize and mock and display leitzanus towards people or institutions when I don’t agree with their positions? And is my ego always being touched when things don’t go my way?”
Regarding the great matanah of Shabbos – which Hashem gifted Klal Yisrael from His treasure house and informed us about through Moshe – it is the great sechar of Shabbos. Receiving the sechar of Shabbos – which we can only get in the next world – is directly proportional to how much we value this amazing day and its mitzvos! Our avodah is not only to start thinking, “What is Shabbos worth to me? How can I understand its value?” but to start treating Shabbos as something that’s very important and chashuv. When we read ולא נתתו לגויי הארצות כי אם לישראל עמך נתתו באהבה on Shabbos morning, or say these words during the Friday night Kiddush – ושבת קדשו באהבה וברצון הנחילנו, we have to train ourselves to feel and appreciate the gift of Shabbos. In addition, we have to try to maximize every opportunity of learning Torah and doing mitzvos on Shabbos, which have a thousand fold value assigned to them! 

[i] ויצא בן אשה ישראלית. מֵהֵיכָן יָצָא? רַבִּי לֵוִי אוֹמֵר מֵעוֹלָמוֹ יָצָא, רַבִּי בְּרֶכְיָה אוֹמֵר מִפָּרָשָׁה שֶׁלְּמַעְלָה יָצָא, לִגְלֵג וְאָמַר “בְּיוֹם הַשַּׁבָּת יַעַרְכֶנּוּ” דֶּרֶךְ הַמֶּלֶךְ לֶאֱכֹל פַּת חַמָּה בְכָל יוֹם, שֶׁמָּא פַּת צוֹנֶנֶת שֶׁל תִּשְׁעָה יָמִים, בִּתְמִיהָ? וּמַתְנִיתָא אֲמַרָה מִבֵּית דִּינוֹ שֶׁל מֹשֶׁה יָצָא, מְחֻיָּב, בָּא לִטַּע אָהֳלוֹ בְתוֹךְ מַחֲנֵה דָן, אָמְרוּ לוֹ מַה טִּיבְךָ לְכָאן? אָמַר לָהֶם מִבְּנֵי דָּן אֲנִי, אָמְרוּ לוֹ “אִישׁ עַל דִּגְלוֹ בְאֹתֹת לְבֵית אֲבֹתָם” כְּתִיב (במדבר ב’), נִכְנַס לְבֵית דִּינוֹ שֶׁל מֹשֶׁה וְיָצָא מְחֻיָּב, עָמַד וְגִדֵּף (ספרא, ויקרא ל”ב):

[ii] הַהוּא דְּאָמַר: דּוּנוּ דִּינִי. אָמְרִי: שְׁמַע מִינַּהּ מִדָּן קָאָתֵי, דִּכְתִיב: ״דָּן יָדִין עַמּוֹ כְּאַחַד שִׁבְטֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל״.

[iii] ויראה לי כי לזה רמזו חז”ל במדרשם שאמרו ויצא בן אשה ישראלית, ר’ לוי אמר מעולמו יצא. ולכך נסמכה פרשת ויצא למילת עולם. ופירוש מעולמו יצא כי האדם עולם קטן, וזהו שכתוב (יחזקאל לו) ומארצו יצאו, וכתיב (שם טו) מהאש יצאו, אשו של בשר ודם, וזה מבואר.

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