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Shabbat Parashat Acharei Mot Kedoshim 5780

Parashat Hashavua: Putting the Season in Perspective part I

Harav Yosef Carmel

We have experienced Pesach. We burnt the chametz and strengthened our humility. We ate matza and strengthened our Torah-discussing activity. We came, hopefully with good health, from Pesach to Yom Hashoah, Yom Hazikaron, and Yom Ha’atzmaut. Before us is Lag Ba’omer, Yom Yerushalayim, and finally Shavuot, the holiday of our receiving the Torah, after the period of counting.

It is important for us to understand what it means to be a “free Jew in our Land.” What makes us bnei chorin (free people)? Leaving Egypt meant that a nation of slaves became a nation of bnei chorin. Chazal taught us that we read “charut al haluchot” (lit., engraved on the Tablets) (Shemot 32:16) as “cheirut (freedom) al haluchot,” for “only one who is hogeh (tries to understand deeply) in Torah is a free man” (Kalla Rabbati 5:3). The Pesikta expands it to “one who occupies himself in Torah is a free man,” which makes it less demanding to be included.

The Maharal (intro. to Tiferet Yisrael) explains that one is considered free by occupying himself in words of Torah even if he accidentally learns the halachot incorrectly. It is the exercise of being involved in Torah that is liberating. Both agree that leaving Egypt was insufficient to be free; it was necessary to receive the Torah at Sinai.

What is the connection between Torah study and freedom? One can qualify the servitude of an eved ivri (a Jewish servant, who is less subservient than an eved C’na’ani) as follows. He relinquishes the freedom to choose his work and his mobility. He also is not able to choose who his mate will be. His life (during those years) is dedicated to increasing the prosperity of his master. However, perhaps the most significant thing is that he relinquishes the ability to make decisions that can further his spiritual state. Because his master controls his activities, he gives up on his ability to make his own decisions. (In some cases, that can be positive, because some people became avadim because they did not know how to make good decisions.) The situation in Egypt was worse, as they did not have the freedom even to act as normal human beings. So why didn’t leaving Egypt make them free?

All of the special presents that we received at Sinai turned us into bnei chorin. First, we were given the opportunity to sanctify ourselves. This was actually a condition for receiving the Torah (see Shemot 19:6-19, which uses the root kadosh three times). The Torah also connects this sanctity to the process of setting boundaries, literally around Sinai, but more fundamentally in that preparing spiritually to not only receive but also live according to the Torah requires religious and moral boundaries.

But how do all these boundaries included in accepting the Torah cause freedom? We are limited as to where we can go and what we can and must do! We will continue with this theme next week. After Yom Hashoah and Yom Hazikaron, we are better able to understand that the “Work liberates” sign in Auschwitz was the biggest lie and that those who gave their lives so that we could live in our own country taught us about the sanctity of life.

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We daven for a complete and speedy refuah for:


Nir Rephael ben Rachel Bracha
Refael Yitchak ben Chana

Netanel Ilan ben Sheina Tzipora

Netanel ben Sarah Zehava

Meira bat Esther

Yair Menachem ben Yehudit Chana

Rivka Reena bat Gruna Natna

Lillian bat Fortune

Yafa bat Rachel Yente

Eliezer Yosef ben Chana Liba

Ro'i Moshe Elchanan ben Gina Devra

Esther Michal bat Gitel

Yehudit Sarah bat Rachel


Together with all cholei Yisrael


Hemdat Yamim is dedicated

to the memory of:

those who fell in wars

for our homeland


Eretz Hemdah's beloved friends

and Members of

Eretz Hemdah's Amutah


Rav Shlomo Merzel z”l
Iyar 10 5771


Rav Reuven Aberman z"l

 Tishrei 9     5776


Mr. Shmuel Shemesh  z"l
Sivan 17 5774


R' Eliyahu Carmel z"l

Rav Carmel's father

Iyar 8    5776


Mrs. Sara Wengrowsky

bat R’ Moshe Zev a”h.

Tamuz 10       5774


Rav Asher Wasserteil z"l

Kislev 9   5769


R'  Meir ben

Yechezkel Shraga Brachfeld z"l


Mrs. Sara Brachfeld z"l

Tevet 16 5780


R'  Yaakov ben Abraham & Aisha


Chana bat Yaish & Simcha

Sebbag, z"l


Rav Yisrael Rozen z"l
Cheshvan 13 5778


Rav Benzion Grossman z"l
Tamuz 23    5777


Rav Moshe Zvi (Milton)

Polin z"l

Tamuz 19     5778


R' Abraham Klein z"l

Iyar 18 5779


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