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Elevating Others

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Elevating Others ©

By Dr. Akiva Gamliel Belk

Parshat Behar - Bechukotai

Leviticus 25.1- 27.34

To view the Hebrew Test click here.


This Devri Torah Parshat is in the loving memory of Mr. Gary Lee Belk and Mr. Donald Wayne Belk, may they rest in peace.

As a young boy at the age of 9 I began cutting neighbors lawns for spare money.  My father spoke to several neighbors and before long I had about five good size yards to push mow the grass and trim. Shortly after that I got a paper route.  I lied about my age.  Before long my brothers each had a paper route in my name.  Gabor Yitzchok was 8 and Raphael Levy was 7.   We carried these paper routes everyday of the week.  At the age of 11 I began wording for the Denver Public Schools as a sweeper boy in the mornings before school and in the evenings after school. I got my Social Security number at the age of 11. The school district began deducting social security from my .90 cents per hour.   When I was 17 I worked at the local Arby's Roast Beef sometimes until 1:00 am on school nights during high school.  The day before I entered the military Daddy had me stacking hay on a flat bed truck then into the barn later.  The other farmers actually told my father to let me have the rest of the day off because I was going into the military.  When I came home on leave we cut tobacco leafs by hand.

Our parents owned rental property, thank G-d!  Every time a renter moved my father would say boys we gotta go clean and paint that rental. My brothers and I helped our father with all kinds of maintenance work from young ages.  We worked on roofs, we painted, we cleaned, we helped with construction, with poured concrete, with carried mortar, we trimmed trees and split wood.  We worked very hard as kids.

Needless to say when I went into the advertising and printing business our sons immediately were included.  They waited counter after school, made copies, designed business cards, stationary, flyers, folded, collated, handed fliers out door to door plus much more.  They were also quite young.

It is good for young adults to learn responsibility by working at various jobs but NOT kids.

Ha Torah Says, If your brother becomes destitute and cannot sustain himself among you are to support him as a foreigner or temporary resident, so that he can continue among you...  If your brother among you becomes destitute and sells himself to you, you must not force him to do slave labor. Let him stay with you as a hired hand or temporary resident; he may work until the Year of Jubilee.  Then he and his children are to be released from you, and he may return to his clan and his ancestral property.  They are not to be sold as slaves, because they are my slaves I brought out of the land of Mitzriam.  You are not to rule over them harshly but to fear your G-d!

When my father was 5 he became an orphan in the hills of Kentucky.  He went to live with a harsh uncle who beat him often.  Daddy recalled how he had to get up each morning and start a fire in the fireplace.

Dear ones when I was studying this Torah Parshat I realized that I treated my children a bit to sternly when growing up.  I required them to work hard after school.  I expected a to much from there mother.  When Naomi Leah and I married.  We began working hard, real hard.  We were so dedicated to sharing Torah on the internet. This was for a real good cause yet I was too driven.  About 7 or 8 years ago the Rebbetzin needed to back off. I agreed.  I remained very stead fast until about 20 months. I was forced to slow down because of injuries.  It is so difficult and painful to drive to physical therapy and doctors appointments along with home therapy and lessons and audio discussions. As many of you know this past year the Rebbetzin tried to come back by teaching a class on modesty.  She is still trying, G-d Bless her! Then, G-d Forbid she was struck with cancer, then lymphedema and carpal tunnel.    It has been a very difficult road to walk sense then...

The stress on us has been enormous!  We have greatly slowed down!  We are going to need to slow down even more.

In this weeks Parshat we Observe an important principle.  I like the translation of the Holman christian Standard Bible for this Passuk. Holman translates, You are not to rule over them [slaves] harshly but to fear your G-d!  Vayikra 25.46  Two Words stand out.

 hD≤r"ti Tee Rih Deh meaning to rule; to subdue, subjugate, tyrannize over...  The Letter Tav is added.  This is a special sign that tells us to take a closer look.  The Gematria of  hD≤r"ti Tee Rih Deh  is 609.  When the same Letter are rearranged they spell rDæh]t≤ Teh Hih Dawr, meaning favor. Mystically we learn how we are not to treat a servant and how we are to treat a servant.

˚r≤p;B] Bih Faw Rehk meaning to crush, oppress, break, oppress  The Gematria of ˚r≤p;B] Bih Faw Rehk is 302.  This is the same Gematria as bræq; Kaw Rahv meaning to come near to.  Again we learn that one is not to crush a servant but to draw the servant near to them.

 hD≤r"ti Tee Rih Deh meaning to rule; to subdue, subjugate, tyrannize over.

609 = h5 d4 r200 t400

rDæh]t≤ Teh Hih Dawr, meaning favor. 

609 = r200 d400 h500 t400

˚r≤p;B] Bih Faw Rehk meaning to crush, oppress, break, oppress 

302 = ˚20 r200 p80 b2

bræq; Kaw Rahv meaning to come near to

302 = b2 r200 q100

This is a message to all of us. This tells us there is a limit of work that one should expect from their slave.  This also tells us that there is a limit of what one should expect from children.  There is a limit of what one should expect from their spouse. There is a limit we should expect from our selves. Now, each of us should be seriously dedicated to learning and studying Ha Torah.  Yet there is a point where one must draw the line.  There is a point that one should not physically cross.  I cannot say that I have ever met anyone who rigorously or ruthlessly studies Ha Torah.  There are some extremely dedicated Torah Scholars.  Yet to place anyone of them in this category would be a mistake. 

Still when one slows down do to sickness or injury that is O.K. Our Creator Does not expect us to maintain the same scheduled as in our youth.  Avraham handed over responsibilities to Yitzchok when he was 140.  Yitzchok attempted to hand over responsibilities when he was 123.  He handed over responsibilities when he was 145.  Yaakov handed over responsibilities when he was 130.  All that I am saying is it is normal to take time off when one is sick or injured.  It is normal to slow down.  It is normal to hand responsibilities to a trained talmud.  I am also saying there is a line that each of us must pay attention to with regards to what we physically can do.  While on one hand we strive to be righteous and holy we must use common sense.

This lesson teaches us to not treat ourself or others harshly. 

Blessings Health, Prosperity, Kindness and Peace,

Dr. Akiva Gamliel

Defining Holiness ©

By Dr. Akiva G. Belk

Parshas Emor
Leviticus 21.1 - 24.23

To view the Hebrew Test click here.

This Devri Torah Parshat is in the loving memory of Mr. Gary Lee Belk and Mr. Donald Wayne Belk, may they rest in peace.

This week we in our Devri Limood we discussed Rising to Yaakov's Level of Righteousness.   There we stated that righteous people make mistakes.  We discussed the mistakes of Yaakov and other great people of history.  We are going to continue this discussion with defining holiness.

Within our universe there seems to be a misconception of what it means to be holy. We must consider the questions: What is Holy? What is Holiness? Who defines what Holy means? Does it matter who defines the meaning of Holiness?

Simply put Holiness is SEPARATION!   Can one make a mistake and still be separated?  Yes and no!  It depends upon the mistake. Can one make several mistakes and still be separated?  Yes and no!  It depends upon the mistake.

The Story Of the Shwartzah Wolf
So often we look so holy with our long black coats, our black hats, our black kippas, our short hair, our payos, our long dresses, our sheitels, our outward actions, our Shabbos attendance, our davening and many other outward appearances. The problem with outward appearances is that too often they are founded on showtime pretenses. They are not real. Good habits are important. And they are healthy. Yet, to suggest that smoking and drinking among other habits are the soil for sinners is wrong. In fact, Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach, may he rest in peace, related the story of the Shwartzah Wolf as told to the Belzer Rebbe by the great grandson.
There was a man who for many years had no children. And the gates of heaven were closed to him and his wife. This man was instructed to get a bracha from the Shwartzah Wolf. As the head of the thirty-six tzaddikim, he was the only one who could open the gates of Heaven.

However, the Shwartzah Wolf, a woodchuck living in the forest, was a very unpopular Jew in the community. He was described as being obnoxious. And his wife's words and his children's actions could not be repeated. This is a man who was not given an aliya at the community shul and for whose funeral the men of the shul did not want to make a minyan. Yet he was the head of the thirty-six tzaddikim, the only one who could open the gates of Heaven.

This desperate individual devised a plan to obtain the blessing from the Shwartzah Wolf. He would appear at the Shwartzah Wolf's home as a Jew acting lost in the forest shortly before Shabbos. His thinking was, "They will be forced to offer me accommodations." He knocked on the door. The wife of the Shwartzah Wolf appeared at the door, so ugly, so vial, so intimidating. The children behind her were mean like little devils. The house was in disarray, unkept and untidy. The home of the tzaddik felt like a scary place.

The Yid said, "I'm lost in the forest, Shabbos is about to begin, may I please stay at your house?"

She cursed at him and directed him to the barn where he could sleep on the hay. She warned him that her husband would kill him if he came near the house during Shabbos.

Late that evening, the Shwartzah Wolf appeared before him in the barn and warned him, "I expect you to be gone two minutes after Shabbos is over. Don't open the door to my house or I'll kill you with my bare hands."

The Yid was terrified. He was a dead man. His wife would be childless. The Shwartzah Wolf would not give him the bracha. The gates of Heaven would remain closed. Then late on Shabbos afternoon he began to cry. He fell to his knees there in the barn, openly sobbing out of control as he remembered his tears could open the gates of Heaven. It was at that time that the barn door flew open and there stood the Shwartzah Wolf, shining as the High Priest, inviting him to the third meal of Shabbos, Shalosh Seudos.

They entered the home together. The wife of the Shwartzah Wolf was exquisitely beautiful, the children were well behaved and adorable, shining like little priests. The house was immaculate and tidy like the Bais HaMikdash.

The Shwartzah Wolf said, "I know why you have come, and the gates of Heaven are open to you.. I grant you your request. I bless you with a son. I have only one request, that you name him after me."...

The Yid trembled with excitement as he traveled home to share the news with his wife...The next morning in shul he learned that the Shwartzah Wolf had died, may he rest in peace.

Reb Shlomo goes on to explain that a tzaddik of this position is a mirror that reflects our own neshama. So if we use inappropriate language or if our behavior is obnoxious then the tzaddik only mirrors what we truly are. The tzaddik does NOT mirror what we appear to be or what others think we are. On the other hand, if we are holy, the tzaddik mirrors that holiness.

So the point is real holiness may NOT be based on the conformity of how one dresses or if one lives in a community or one's education or one's position in the community. The tzaddik could be the woodchuck in the wilderness who cannot bear community incongruity. It gives us something to think about...

As we review these questions let's begin by saying it greatly matters who defines holiness.

Recently a staff member at JewishPath was sharing notes from a class that he attended. The class leader was discussing a Jew's responsibility to live by the Torah's definition of what it means to be Jewish. This discussion was in an Orthodox shul to Orthodox Jews. The class leader stated that Jews who dress "LIKE" frum Jews need to live within the Torah's definition / expectation of frumkeit!

In the same way, the world needs to understand what holiness is and who defines what holiness is. Holiness is not up for personal interpretation. Holiness was predefined before the Creation of man or religion. Holiness was defined by Hashem!
The Tenach states, "There is none holy as Hashem for there is none besides You: neither is there any rock like our G-d." 1Sam. 2:2

The Torah clearly states that Hashem expects Kal Yisroel to be holy! Why?

"You shall be Holy, {WHY?} for I Hashem, your G-d, Am Holy." Leviticus 19:2

"You shall be Holy to Me, {WHY?} for I Hashem, Am Holy." Leviticus 20:26

"You shall make him {the Kohen} Holy {even against his will, Rashi} {WHY?} for he offers the bread of your G-d; he shall be Holy unto you {WHY?} for I, Hashem, Am Holy, Who makes you Holy." Leviticus 21:8

Again, the point is Hashem expects Kal Yisroel to be Holy! Why?

Kal Yisroel is called by His Name... "If My people, which are called by My Name..." "and My people, upon whom My Name is proclaimed..." 2 Chronicles 7:14

"Speak to Aharon and to his sons and let them keep away from the holy offerings of B'nei Yisroel {on the days of their impurities, Rashi} and they shall not profane My Holy Name which they sanctify for Me, I am Hashem." Leviticus 22:2

"You shall not profane My Holy Name but I Will be Sanctified among, B'nei Yisroel. I am Hashem Who Makes you Holy." Leviticus 22:32

This tells us something about a Jew's responsibility. We are NOT TO PROFANE Hashem's Holy Name! Instead we are to SANCTIFY HASHEM'S HOLY NAME! No other people or religion is given this great and holy responsibility! Only Kal Yisroel is held responsible to SANCTIFY HASHEM'S HOLY NAME! So how do we fulfill our important responsibility? What is our guideline? The Torah of Hashem is our guide.

Blessings Health, Prosperity, Kindness and Peace,

Dr. Akiva Gamliel
Parshas Acharei Mos
Leviticus 16:1 - 18:30
Parshas Kedoshim
Leviticus 19:1 - 20:27

Hole-y Living? Wholly Living? Holy Living? ©

To view Hebrew Text Click Here.

FREE Audio

By Dr. Akiva Gamliel Belk

This study of mysticism in Hebrew Gematria is dedicated in the loving memory of Mr. Arnold Student Litman, a graduate of Harvard and an honored World War II hero, may he rest in peace.

Speak to all Witnesses of B'nei Yisroel
and say to them, 'Holy you shall be'
for Holy I am, Hashem, your G-d.

Our world needs real holiness. I need real Holiness!!  Each of us need real Holiness! Even though so many realize so few of us know what that is. Understanding what Holiness is is easy! Hashem says, 'Holy you shall be' for Holy I am..." At JewishPath we define Holiness as separation. Let's try a few examples:

Holy readers, Hashem cannot reward or bless behavior that contradicts the Torah! Individuals who play in two fields, i.e., Judaism and outside Judaism are doing just that.
I struggle with emotion. It is easy for me to show disfavor by raising my voice or by snide remarks, etc. In most instances this is not good! It is not holy! Each of us have construction areas of some kind. These are areas that need remodeling and improvement...

Chassidim, holiness is a minute by minute series of choices. Many of these choices should be choices of separation. Again 'Holy you shall be' for Holy I am..." In other words Hashem is " SEPARATE ". Hashem is unlike anyone or anything else. If we are to be like Hashem then that is the form that we MUST develop. The Gematria Kee - Kaw dosh - Ah nee, meaning " for Holy I am " is the Gematria 501. In the mystical sense we can link our ultimate goal with Kee - Kaw dosh - Ah nee {" for Holy I am "} with the word Ti moo nawh, meaning "form or likeness." So, dear reader, when we separate, we separate what we were from what we are supposed to be. What we are supposed to be is holy like Hashem. We are supposed to be whole as in wholesome. We are not supposed to be hole-y, i.e., having many gaps of emptiness in our live which is unlike Hashem!

Kee - Kaw dosh Ah nee {for Holy I Am}

501 = Yud 10 Nun 50 Aleph 1 - Shin 300 Vav 6 Dalet 4 Kuf 100 - Yud 10 Chof 20

Ti moo nawh {form / likeness}
501 = Hey 5 Nun 50 Vav 6 Mem 40 Sav 400

Good Shabbat!

Dr. Akiva Gamliel

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