Parsha: Emor (2023)


Shehechiyanu V’kiyamanu V’higiyanu Lizman Hazaeh…. This is the famous blessing of gratitude that we make on special occasions. I reflect on this blessing and its message as I begin this exciting new stage and new role!

Rabbi Lord Jonothan Sacks ז”ל once shared: A great leader is not someone who accumulates many followers. A great leader makes leaders – the leader allows their followers to shine, and to become leaders themselves.

This is very well expressed in the opening of this week’s Parsha. Rashi points out that the opening verse speaks about adults warning, and guiding children from the dangers of impurity.
He uses the word להזהיר, which literally means to warn. However, this word can also mean to “shine”. Perhaps there is a deeper message here. When we endeavour to educate, lead, or guide, our focus should be on making others shine.
Instead of pointing out the faults and shortcomings of our children, students or friends, we should point out their qualities, and strengths.

Mr. Shelly Baer, recounts the following story. Only nine years old at the time, Shelly Baer had an extensive history of misbehaving, to the extent that he was thrown out of his school. His Mother arranged a meeting with a local Rabbi who was known to be a sage and wise man, The following is what happened next, as told by Shelly himself in an interview:

The Rabbi turned to me, and he smiled and he said, “Come here.”

So I started the conversation. I was ready. I said to the Rabbi, “Are you the Rabbi?”

The Rabbi looked at me with a big smile and he asked me three questions.

The first question was, “Are you a good boy?”

I said, “No.” With conviction. I was ready. I was used to this scene. . . .

So he asked, “You like school?”

“No!” I said.

Then he asked me, “Do you listen to your mother?”


With a big smile he turned to my mother and said, “Ah! Emes! He is honest! Honesty is a beautiful trait!

Despite the clear signs of Shelly’s rebellious nature, the Sage chose to highlight the young boy’s unflinching honesty.

Let’s continue to bring out the best in others, and allow them to shine !

Shabbat Shalom!

Rabbi Zalman