Divrei Torah

PARSHAS EMOR 5776

In the beginning of today’s Parsha, we read about making our performance of Mitzvos go farther – into the next generation. The Torah states, “say to the Kohanim the children of Aharon, and you will say to them” – all the laws pertaining to the Kohanim. The phrase “and say to them” is redundant. It was just said in the first part of the Passuk.

Rashi notices this difficulty and explains, “to warn the adults to teach the children.” Moshe should tell the Mitzvos to the Kohanim and they should instruct their children how to perform these Mitzvos. 

However, it is important that the Kohanim not only instruct their children how to perform the Mitzvos, but they should also show them how to perform the Mitzvos. Our Rabbis teach us that hearing something is not the equivalent of seeing that same thing. The Kohanim should teach by example. Their children should see the method of performing the service and the spirit with which to perform the service. This will make an impression  upon the lives of their children. They will see that the service in the Bais Hamikdash is an important component in the life of a Kohain. 

This does not just apply to Kohanim. This is a rule for all families. If we want our children, friends and acquaintances to value and respect a certain aspect of life, we must also show respect towards that particular aspect of life. We must show others what we consider important. 

If people make a point of saying Brachos before eating and bentching afterwards, their kids will most likely do the same. We have opportunities to pass on positive attitudes to others. Not by dictating, rather, by example. So much could be accomplished. On the other hand, if we show negative attitudes, we can be assured that those also get passed along as the Gemara Sukka discusses.

The very last discussion in the Gemara deals with penalties that the Rabbis enacted against the family of Bilga. In the Bais Hamikdash, the Kohanim were divided into 24 groups or families. Each group would conduct the service in the Bais Hamikdash for two weeks of the year. The weeks of Sukkos and Pesach were divided among all of the Kohanim. Also in the Bais Hamikdash, each family of Kohanim had their own storage area and shechita area. Bilga was one of the families of Kohanim. The Rabbis punished them that they did not have their own storage or shechita areas. The reason for this was that at the time of the Greek occupation of the Land of Israel, life was difficult for the Jews. A young woman named Miriam bas Bilga – who was from the Bilga family of Kohanim – became a follower of the Greeks and married a Greek officer.

When the Greeks ransacked the Bais Hamikdash, she entered the Temple area, kicked the Altar and said, “wolf, wolf – until when will you devour the money of the Jewish people and not protect them in an urgent situation.” Because she acted and talked in such a manner, the Rabbis punished her family. 

The Gemara asks, “Why do you punish the entire family just because one woman acted disgracefully?” The Gemara responds that a child speaks in the market what he hears at home. If Miriam bas Bilga could make such derogatory remarks about the Bais Hamikdash at such a young age, it must be because that is what she heard at home. If that is the attitude in the house, it will be reflected in the conduct of the child. The entire family of Bilga was guilty of this attitude towards the Bais Hamikdash.

We all know that there are people who like to comment about everything under the sun. It could be school, shul or another Jewish organization. Certainly everybody is entitled to their own opinion. But, how do we express it? We can easily shape opinions, especially among those with whom we are close. We should train our youth with the proper spirit. The examples we set by the way we live, serve as the greatest education for our children, families and friends.