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Dvar Shemini

Come see the newest Jewish vocal group in their headlining debut! Six13 is performing this Sat. night, April 2nd at 9:15 PM in Park Slope, Brooklyn at the Jewish Music Cafť. Check out www.jewishmusiccafe.com or www.six13.net.

Dear Reader,

Welcome to the concise, relevant Weekly Dvar. Since I'm sending out two Emails this week, I thought it would be appropriate to keep them both short. Happy Purim, and enjoy...

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The Gemara (Tractate) in Pesachim (3a) quotes: "A person should not speak in a negative way, as we see the Torah itself" went out of its way to speak nicely regarding the animals entering the Ark, describing the non-kosher animals as specifically that - non-kosher. It doesn't call them Tamei (Impure). The Torah "wastes" words in order to teach us the importance of speaking nicely. From this week's Parsha, Shemini, we have a problem with this Gemara. The Torah continually refers to non-kosher animals as Tamei (11:4 and others)! What happened to speaking nicely?

R' Mordechai Kamenetzky answers that the difference is that the story of the Ark is a narrative, which is when people should be careful to tell it over in a nice way, refraining from Lashon Hara (slander) or negativity of any sort. In our Parsha, however, the Torah describes the nitty-gritty laws of what one may eat. In our case, itís important to give a resounding "TAMEI!" when discussing these matters, as the consequences are much graver. It should be the same when dealing with children and others around us who may not know better. We speak softly in order to get them to understand history, reasons and customs of Judaism. However, as the metaphor of food may hint at, if they are in imminent danger of internalizing negative influences, it's time to fearlessly admonish them! When dealing with clear right and wrong, the Torah tells us that sometimes itís necessary to boldly speak where no one has spoken before!

Quotation of the Week:
"I don't know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody. --Bill Cosby

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Last Updated: Thursday, March 31, 2005