12 Kislev 5781 / Saturday, November 28, 2020 | Torah Reading: Vayeitzei
 
dot  Add to favorites   dot  Set as homepage  
 
   
    Create an account    |    Sign in
  
    My Account     Orders History     Help
 
 
  My Country:  
  United States   
 
   Language:  
  English   
 
   My Currency:  
  US Dollar   
 
   
Home Page Torah Portion Spirituality and Faith Foundations of Judaism Inspirational Stories Family & Daily Life Holidays and Fast Days Israel and Society
   Heart of the Parsha     Chassidic Pearls     Chana’s Blessing     Parsha Beams             
 
  More  
 
 
 
David's Harp  
 
HomeTorah PortionDavid's HarpThe Holy Firstborn
 
  Advanced Search
   Articles
 
   Search
 
            
 

The Holy Firstborn    

The Holy Firstborn



Parshat Bo: Jews are extreme. Whatever we do we do with a total dedication and involvement. Either we become Hashem's chosen people or the most sophisticated of lawbreakers...

 



What’s the relationship between holiness and a harlot? I don’t normally start off with such a question but as unrelated as these two seem to be, their interrelationship can provide us with an important understanding of one of the themes in this week’s Torah reading. Hopefully, we’ll also see how this connection relates to the Jew’s preoccupation towards excellence in many aspects of today’s society.
 
By the last of the ten plagues, there was a fascinating change of status for the Jewish people. After the firstborn of the Egyptians were slain, the Jewish firstborn took on a new position of importance. From that time on, Hashem commanded that the Jewish firstborn be sanctified to Him. On a basic level the idea behind this obligation is that in appreciation for the double kindness Hashem performed by punishing the Egyptians’ firstborns and by saving us from their oppression, we became eternally indebted to Him. That thanks took the concrete form of dedicating our firstborn to Hashem’s service.
 
However, there are two questions that make this explanation somewhat problematic. First, we would understand that the generation that experienced the redemption should be obligated to dedicate their firstborn but why does that requirement extend to us today? Second, not only does this obligation extend to the Jewish males, it also applies to our animals. Granted that Hashem killed their firstborn animals and therefore we consecrate our animals, but why was this really necessary? Couldn’t the Exodus have taken place even without the death of the animals?
 
What is the significance of the firstborn? Every one of us has a dream and a vision that we would like to pass on to the next generation.  On a spiritual and physical level, we invest strengths and talents towards the growth of our children, in general, and to our first born, in particular. The essence of who we are and what we want to give over is symbolized by the first born. When the first born of the Egyptians were killed, the message was loud and clear. The dedication of the Egyptian might to further the oppression and terror of Pharaoh and his regime would come to an end and in its place would be a nation dedicated to compassion and truth. Hashem encapsulated this idea by enjoining us to dedicate our firstborn children and animals to His service, to use the first and best of our abilities to become His ambassadors in this world. As opposed to the self-worship of Pharaoh, the Jewish people are called upon for all generations to direct themselves in this service. Therefore, it wasn’t enough just to dedicate our children, we needed to dedicate our livestock as well. And it wasn’t sufficient for just that generation but was essential for all time.
 
The Hebrew word for holiness is kedusha (the root being the Hebrew letters- kuf-dalet-shin). Strangely, the Hebrew word for a harlot is Kadeisha (with the same three letter root). What is the connection? Each one of us is given a range of talents and we are called upon to use and elevate them. There are two polar extremes of the total dedication of these gifts, one on the side of purity and spirituality and the other reflecting impurity and physicality. The total preoccupation and absorption with things Divine produces holiness, while the opposite focus creates harlotry. The two concepts are both completely different, yet very similar. Obviously for most of us life is not black and white but the idea is still very relevant. We can use our talents to become the “Holy Nation” we are supposed to be or we can lose focus and invest our energies into our lowest physical drives.
 
In general, Jews are extreme. Whatever we do we do with a total dedication and involvement. When we are focused on our own potential holiness we become Hashem’s firstborn. If we see Jews immersed in society, the media, the financial institutions, etc. we should see this as an expression of our natural inclination to dedicate ourselves to a higher cause. However, it’s important to remember that this involvement in society, as noble as it often is, doesn’t fully reflect the usage of our talents to strive to holiness.
 
May Hashem help us dedicate ourselves to His service, to use all of the incredible gifts that He has bestowed upon us to be conduits of all that is holy and noble in this world. 
 
 
* * *
Rabbi Dovid Charlop is on the teaching staff of the Neve Tzion Yeshiva in Telzstone, Israel. You can see more of Rabbi Charlop's articles here.





New Comment    New Comment
   See More Articles By Rabbi David Charlop
   Read more about David's Harp




Top of article    Top of article       Email This Article    Email This Article          Share to Facebook       Print version    Print version


 Join the distribution list Join the distribution list
 
 
  
If you would like to receive other related articles or Breslev.co.il features via e-mail, please enter your e-mail address here:

   

 Related Articles Related Articles
 
 

 
Vayera: Perceptive Women               Toldot: The Great Hijack               Shlach Lecha: Intel and Emuna
 
 Vayera: Perceptive Women  Toldot: The Great Hijack  Shlach Lecha: Intel and Emuna


  0 Talkbacks for this article     

Add Your CommentAdd Your Comment    Add Your Comment    

 
 
  
In Honor of:    In Memory of:
  
 
Like What You Read?
 
Help Breslev Israel spread the light of Rebbe Nachman
across the globe, and be a partner in making a better world.
 
Click here to support Breslev.co.il
  
 
 
 Products of the Day Products of the Day
 
 
 
 
Back  1 2 3  Next
 
 
 
 
  •  
     
  •  
     
  •  
     
  •  
     
  •  
     
 
Back  1 2 3  Next
 
 
 Most talked about Most talked about
 
 
 
 
Up  1 2 3  Down
 
 
 Most read Most read
 
 
 
 
Up  1 2 3  Down
 
 
 Facebook Facebook
 
 
 
 Mailing List Mailing List
 
 
 
Subscribe Here:   
 
   
 

 
 



  
 
 
open toolbar