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Chodesh Iyar, A Dvar Torah from Rav Yaakov Tropp

Be A Man (not an animal)

"Can I have your autograph?" Certainly, a typical request when directed at a baseball player, but undoubtedly atypical when directed at the Gadol Hador. Nevertheless, Rav Moshe Feinstein acquiesced with a smile and continued to sign for all the boys at the shul dinner who quickly lined up to follow the initial autograph seeker. Even as a well-meaning onlooker tried to shoo the boys away, explaining to them that Rav Moshe is indeed not a baseball player, he simply shrugged and said, "What's the problem? They are Jewish children." Making a fellow Jew feel good was a top priority for this towering Torah giant, despite the time consumption and lack of dignity involved.

Let us try to uncover the source of such selflessness.  We find ourselves in the period of ספירת העומר, counting from פסח and the קרבן עומר, to חג השבועות and the קרבן שתי הלחם.  Aruch Hashulchan explains that the עומר, being a barley offering which is usually animal food, represents the fact that although our nation was created with יציאת מצרים, we possessed hardly an advantage over animals until מתן תורה.  Only through קבלת התורה marked by the wheat offering (human food) of שתי הלחם on שבועות, does man break out of his shell and elevate himself above the animalistic nature with which he is born.  The more one invests himself in and infuses himself with תורה ומצוות the more spiritual he becomes.  In turn, he becomes less instinctive and limited by the confines of his own body, thus allowing him to feel for and connect to others on a deeper level.  Separation and strife are products of the physical side of mankind, simply due to the fact that each person has his own flesh and blood, unconnected to that of others.  On the spiritual plane, however, we are united as each נשמה originated from and is continuously rooted in the source of all existence- הקדוש ברוך הוא.

As we count day by day towards קבלת התורה, let us contemplate and appreciate the profound significance of this event, and strengthen our dedication to becoming less animalistic and more humane.

Chodesh Tov,

Rav Yaakov Tropp


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