This page presents insights by Rabbi Tuvia Bolton on the weekly Torah portion.
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Parshat Vayikra (5772)
This week's Torah portion begins the laws of sacrifices and tells us that they were a 'Pleasing smell (or spirit) to G-d' (1:9).
At first glance this makes no sense. How can killing animals please G-d? Doesn't Judaism teach that G-d is infinite and has no form? How can He smell or be pleased?
To understand this, here is a story about the Baal Shem Tov; the founder of the Chassidic movement in Judaism some 300 years ago.
The Besh't (short for Baal Shem Tov), besides knowing the Torah totally also was able to spiritually 'see' with no restrictions of time, or place.
So when two distinguished Jewish gentlemen entered his study it was not surprising that he seemed as though he was expecting them although he had never seen or heard from them in his life.
One of them began. "Great master, we have heard that no secret is hidden from you. Please tell me if you think that his daughter would be a good match for my son. The reason I ask is because I am an important Rabbi and a Torah scholar, and my son is the same as me. But my friend here......he can barely read Hebrew and probably his daughter is the same. Is it permissible for my son to marry such a girl or into such a family?"
The Besh't replied that not only was it permissible but it was a perfect match from heaven. He then ordered that they shake hands, seal the agreement on the spot and told his assistant to bring a bottle of vodka, cakes and some cups to celebrate.
They shook hands, made L'chiam, ate some cake and as soon as they left the room the Besh't turned to his assistant and said, 'See, sometimes the spiritual world of 'Joking around' can be a good matchmaker.
The assistant had no idea what the Besh't was talking about and as soon as he could he left the room and, when he noticed that the Rabbi had not yet left the building, ran up to him and asked if he could explain the Besht's words.
As soon as the Rabbi heard what the Besh't had said he smiled with joy and began to dance. "The world of "Joking Around"?!! In other words it was only a JOKE! Ha HA HAAAA!"
When he calmed down he explained. "This rich fellow I came in with was a pauper a year ago, a water carrier and a total ignoramus. But they say that he found a treasure or something and became rich overnight because now he lives in a mansion and gives tons of charity. But he's the same ignoramus as ever.
Anyway, somehow he got the idea that his daughter should marry my son! He went to a matchmaker, gave him a thousand rubles and promised him nine hundred more to make the 'Shidduch' (match).The matchmaker then proceeded to make my life miserable. He knocked on my door twice a day, promised me and my son, in the name of the watercarrier, exorbitant sums of money ore but the very idea was totally ridiculous and even repulsive to me; how could I, a great Rabbi and Talmudists, be connected with such illiterates as them? I rejected their offers unequivocally.
Then, one day when I was riding in my carriage and it was late and I was tired, I stopped in a small town to pray 'Mincha' (the afternoon, and second of three daily, prayers). I entered one of the Synagogues, and as I was getting ready to pray I overheard a group of boys learning what for them, was a difficult idea in the Talmud.They got stuck on one sentence and I decided to help, so I walked over and explained it. As soon as I finished one of them turned to me and said "That was the most stupid thing I ever heard! Who are you? Why don't you go back to school and get the basics!" They all started laughing at me and mocking me so I decided to leave and go pray in the Shul across the street.
But when I got there it wasn't much different. A group of people were learning Jewish law (Shulchan Aruch) and one of them raised a question on the text that no one could answer. It just so happened that I knew the answer and I told it to them. But all they did was look at each other in disbelief and burst out laughing and calling me names like 'Bozo and knucklehead. So I went back into my carriage and drove down the road to the main Shul. But there it was even worse.
As soon as I entered the door, someone approached me and asked a question on some idea in the Talmud and when I cordially answered he began howling, jumping around, repeating my answer at the top of his lungs followed by 'Wow, what an ignoramus Ha HAAAA!!' and everyone began laughing and pointing at me. Then an old honorable Rabbi ascended the podium, pounded on the table, called for silence, pointed at me and declared "This fool is a bigger egotist than you think! I happen to know that the water carrier offered his daughter to this dunce's son and he refused because he thinks he's a great genius!!" Everyone yelled at me to leave the Shul. So I returned to my carriage and.... Suddenly I woke up! It had all been a dream!!!
But it so shook me up that I decided I'd come here to the Baal Shem Tov to ask if I should pay attention to the dreams or not.I began to think that maybe I really am an egotist and an ignoramus.
That's why I'm so happy. The dreams were only from the 'sprit of joking' in order to make the match. So maybe I was an egotist but, thank G-d, I'm not an ignoramus.
This answers our questions.
Just as 'the spirit of Joking' can be used to make 'matches' in this world although it has nothing to do with marriages so the sacrifices can make 'matches' in the upper, spiritual worlds namely to 'join' G-d with the world.
Indeed, the sacrifices really make no sense and are above all logic... something like the dream in our story'; and it precisely this that 'pleases' the Creator and unites Him with the creation as it was in the Garden of Eden,again at Mount Sinai and the Holy Temple and finally will be in the future redemption by Moshiach.
Therefore it is up to us to do what G-d wants, including understanding the entire Talmud but ONLY because it is what G-d wants; entirely above logic.
Then our mouths will be filled with laughter and joy (Ps. 126:2) and we will realize that this terrible exile we have suffered was only from the 'World of Joking'.
And it's all in our hands. One more good deed, word, or even thought can tilt the scales and bring......
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