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By Lenore Suri Davis Stern


On Shabbos between Passover and Shavuoth it is customary to recite Pirkei Avoth/Ethics of our Father.  In this weeks chapter, there is the following partial verse:  “Akavia ben Mahalalel says Consider three things and you will not come into the grip of sin:  Know whence you came, whither you go and before whom you will give justification and reckoning.”

I believe this week’s Torah portion reflects this saying.   The parshah starts with the purity of the Priests.  One verse states that Jews should be kadosh/holy, because I, G-d, am holy.  Leviticus 21:8.  Verse 22:33 states:  “Who took (takes) you out of the land of Egypt to be a G-d unto you, I am G-d.

Whence did we come?  There are two answers.  Our spiritual souls came from G-d’s holiness, blown into us at birth, as He did to Adam, and made all beings in His image.  G-d’s DNA in us, as our third parent, is His spirit, His holiness, and the laws set forth in the Torah, which is His driving manual for our lives.  The priests and the high priests are the embodiment of dedication to G-d, historically their service was in the temple, and they were to remain holy and pure so that they could service G-d at any time.

Whence did we come physically, from Egypt.  A land riddled with materialism and impurity.  This parshah discusses the son of Shlomit, whose father was an Egyptian.  In the hundreds of years that the Jews were in Egypt, they did not assimilate or intermarry, but for this one man, who cursed G-d.  Physically, we came from slavery and impurity.  Historically, G-d created man out of dust.

Herein lies the inherent conflict G-d created within each of us.  We were made out of dust, so we might say to G-d, what do you want of us, we came from dust and slavery.  On the other hand, He blew into each one of us a spiritual soul that has infinite potential to grow and develop and be G-dlike.  Which one do we allow to control in us each moment of each day.  We came from dust, we came from G-d.

Wither you go?  The parshah then reveals to us our festivals.  Pesach, Shavuoth, Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and Sukkoth.  Each festival is an elevation of our souls.  It is a time we set aside our material work and we devote ourselves to worship G-d.  On every one of these holidays, in our Kiddush we say Zecher L’yitziat mitzraim/in commemoration of G-d’s taking us out of Egypt.  We say this as a reminder of why we have stopped our toil on the holidays.  That when we show faith in G-d by halting our work, G-d rewards us with abundance.  To the extent that we observe our holidays is the reward we receive all the other days of the week.  Where are we going?  We are navigating the path G-d wants us on navigating the material world with the spiritual.

Aside from giving sacrifice on Shavuoth, it does not appear to have other mitzvoth/good deeds attached to it, so then how do we celebrate this momentous ocassion of G-d giving us the Torah?  Passover, we don’t eat leaven, Rosh Hashanah we blow shofar, yom kippur we fast, sukkoth we sit in a sukkah, then what distinguishes this holiday of Shavuoth coming up in three weeks?  It is the holiday of harvesting of the field, and we are commanded that when we harvest the field, we are to leave corners of the field and some sheaths of wheat we might have overlooked on the field for the poor.  One would think that we would complete the Torah on that day and somehow dedicate mitzvoth between man and G-d, and G-d reveals to us what He really wants of us on our “anniversary.”  He wants us to be kind to each other.  As we reap, do not forget your poor brethren.  Just be kind to each other.

Before whom you will give justification and reckoning?  At the end of the parshah, we see that the son of Shlomit curses G-d and is stoned to death for his actions by all of Israel.  Cursing G-d cannot be tolerated.  No sacrifice, no lashes can be abided of one who betrays the King.  Our reckoning comes before the King each day when we sleep and our soul goes up to G-d and is reviewed.  Then again, when we die.

In our day, let us remember that G-d built within us the conflict between material and spiritual and that we have to work in whatever we do to elevate our souls and be Godlike, because we were created in His image.

Shabbat shalom.



Lenore has been practicing Trust and estate/elder for 25 years.  She has her LLM masters in Taxation, and has offices in New York and New Jersey.  You can contact her via telephone at (516)569-4671 or by email at




The "Ohel Sara" Amen Group
in memory of Sarit Marton a'h

cordially invites all women to attend
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Cedarhurst Mayor Parise Honors for its community work.  Left to Right:  Trustee, Ari Brown, Mayor Andrew J. Parise, Editor Suri Davis-Stern, Village Administrator Salvatore Evola



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