Parshas Emor
Leviticus 21:1 - 24:23

How to have Holiness in One's Home ©

By Dr. Akiva G. Belk

This study of the weekly parsha is dedicated in the loving memory of Mrs. Ethel Sakash Belk, my mother, may she rest in peace.

The Story of Our Shool chawn
Many years ago before I returned to Judaism, when I was a Messianic, there was a devout Christian lady who willed this beautiful cherry wood table to my parents. When she passed, may she rest in peace, the cherry wood table and other special items became my parents' property at her request. Sometime after this I became a Baal Teshuvah {one who returns to Judaism}. My return included divorce, loss of my sons, separation from relatives and loss of three retail businesses. As awful as these losses were, Hashem has more than replaced every loss with Torah, a loving wife, a relationship with my sons, kaninahora, new business, JewishPath and much more. Baruch Hashem!

After separating from my former spouse, I moved to one of Denver's observant communities. A wonderful, wonderful Hungarian Chassid from New York and his family rented their lower level to me. I learned much Torah there, in shul, in outreach classes and in Yeshiva. This was my hide-out! My parents, brothers, relatives and Christians / Messianics searched for me. Thank G-d they could not find me. We were concerned that they might attempt to kidnap me or indoctrinate me. It was frightful! I checked in every day with a dear friend who has stood by me all these years. I cannot mention his name. Eventually when they did find me, it was very obvious to them that the community would not stand for any of their tactics.

After learning of my residence, my father came without invitation for a visit. He knocked on my door! I opened it and invited him in. We sat. We chatted. We restated our positions. Then my father informed me that he was living within our community. He was on the outskirts but within easy walking distance. He was about nine blocks from the shul I attended. He invited me to visit. I did! When I entered my parents' home, there in the dining room was this beautiful cherry wood table. I recognized it.

My parents informed me that they planned to live out the rest of their years in this home. My mother, may she rest in peace, loved it there. Then one day a few weeks later, I received a phone call from my father informing me that they were moving. He wanted to know if I would like to have the beautiful cherry wood table. I said yes and went to pick it up. This is possibly the best gift my parents have given me.

Now for many years I have enjoyed this very precious table. Only Hashem knows the many Torah discussions, songs, stories, blessings, kiddushes and kosher meals we have lovingly enjoyed here at the cherry wood Shool chawn in our home. It is our most precious piece. It was a most wonderful gift!

Dear reader, in this week's parsha we read, "And you take the finest pastry flour and you [are to] bake twelve [matzah] loaves. Each challah shall be two tenths [of an ephah]. And put them in two arrangements, six per arrangement on the table, the pure [table] before Hashem." Leviticus 24:5,6

The Shool chawn, the Table within each of our homes, should be like the Shool chawn in the Mishkon... in the Bais Hamikdosh. It should be pure. The items placed upon it should be pure. Every item must be kosher! The communication at the Shool chawn must be holy at all times because it represents the Shool chawn of the Holy Temple within our home! The Shool chawn is the place of our altar within our home. It is the place of blessing. Erev Shabbos we bless our children at the Shool chawn. We say Kiddush at the Shool chawn, i.e., we bless the wine and the bread in front of the Shool chawn. Torah must be spoken... discussed... argued at the Shool chawn. The Shool chawn is the place like a holy monument that should remind every Jew of our Covenant with Hashem! This is one reason why the Torah says, "Ha" Shool chawn - "Ha" taw hor. The Shool chawn represents the Covenant of Hashem who is Holy... Who is Pure... in our very own home.

Within Yiddishkeit it is known that Tzadikkim use the material of their own family Shool chawn as their burial box. Why? The words of Torah, blessings, kiddush and music are a comfort as they rest awaiting the next life.

After breaking bread upon the altar in our home... after wonderful Torah discussions at the altar of our home... after wine and music... we offer thanks to Hashem. We say Birkas Hamazon. We thank Hashem for giving us "exceeding abundance!" Where do we offer thanks? At the Shool chawn!

Chassidim, if you would like EXTREME HOLINESS in your home then dedicate your Shool chawn as "Ha" Shool chawn - "Ha" taw hor, as the table, the HOLY table which is before Hashem! When I enter a Jewish home I look for the Shool chawn. The Jewish table / altar. The Shool chawn is the evidence of holiness in a Jewish home. So much can be learned from one's Shool chawn.

Dear holy readers, a sweet, sweet and blessed friend - a staff member of JewishPath - and his wife and their children have the most blessed holiness within their home. It all centers around their shul chawn. GET THIS! On Thursday night I have occasionally visited their home for one reason or another. Upon entering their home my neshama fastens to one thing, their Shool chawn! It is their family custom to prepare their family altar one entire day in advance of Shabbos. It is such a beautiful site! IT IS CAPTIVATING!!

My dear friend and his lovely wife have an array of very exquisite furniture including a baby grand... Yet if you enter their home on Thursday evening, only the holiness of their Shabbos table will captivate your eyes!

My dear, dear friend and his wife are not the only family in Denver's Jewish community with such an incredible Shabbos monument. Every home of Denver's west and east side communities that I have visited adorn their Shool chawn. There is no way to describe the wonderful, wonderful feelings emitting from these holy tables, these altars of holiness, of great righteousness.

May Hashem bless each Jewish Home and those desiring with the most wonderful and warm Shool chawn of His Presence!!

Good Shabbos!

Dr. Akiva G. Belk


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