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Bechukasi-Holiness Begins in the Home

Holiness Begins in the Home
“And if a man hallows his house [to be] holy to the Lord,…” (Leviticus 27:14)

When one behaves in an elevated (holy) manner in his own house, he is beyond doubt a holy person (Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Kotzk)

All too often we to treat strangers better than we do our own family.  We act towards them more correctly and treat them more properly and kindly than we do our own family, reserving our good behavior to those outside our home, often exhibiting a Jekyll and Hyde transformation…

The Kotzker Rebbe (From Amud Haemes The life story, sayings and wisdom of the famous Chassidic Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Kotzk (1787-1859).) commented on the verse “If anyone consecrates his house to the Lord… that true holiness is present when a person sanctifies the seemingly commonplace daily activities of running his house. When one behaves in an elevated manner in his own house, he is beyond doubt a holy person. At home one has many opportunities for acts of kindness to one’s own family. All too often, behaving properly towards members of one’s own family at home is frequently more difficult than behaving properly towards strangers. But the more difficult it is to apply Torah principles the greater the reward. The more sanctified your behavior at home, the greater you become.

 The following story is told about the great sage Rabbi Yisroel Salanter (1800s) who was once visiting a town for Shabbos when a former student invited him home for the Shabbos meal Rabbi Salanter accepted the invitation and was assured that his wife was prepared for an unexpected guest. When they arrived, the host saw that the table wasn’t fully set and realized that it would take a while until they started the meal. The host was a bit annoyed, and started loudly complaining to his wife that things weren’t ready. The hostess, obviously embarrassed by the situation, hurriedly got things moving along but in her hurry she forgot to cover the challos .When it came to reciting Kiddush, the man threw an angry fit at his wife for forgetting to cover the challos. Wounded by her husband’s words and ashamed in the presence of their distinguished guest, the woman scurried to bring the challah covering. Rabbi Salanter, who had been observing the host’s insensitivity towards his wife and, shocked by the man’s behavior, leaned over ands aid to him, “Excuse me, but I’m getting older and my memory is weakening. Could you remind me of the reason we cover the challis?
He replied “It’s a law that the Challos has to be covered while Kiddush is recited?”  “Yes” said Rabbi Salanter “but why?”
The man, proud to be of assistance to so prominent a sage explained the symbolism behind the custom; the challos are covered so that they be spared the “embarrassment” of being exposed while all the Mitzvah is being focused on the wine….  “The reason we cover the challas while we recite Kiddush over a cup of wine, is because challah is a viable alternative for Kiddush, if wine is not available. When we make Kiddush over wine, the challos stands to be embarrassed since they are not being used for Kiddush. We therefore act sensitively towards the challos and place a cover over it when wine is used.” After he finished his explanation, Rabbi Salanter responded: “You are so meticulous about a mere custom of not ‘embarrassing’ a loaf of bread. And yet you are so quick and ready to dishonor your wife and hurt her feelings.” Rabbi Salanter continued, “What is the sense of being sensitive to the embarrassment of the inanimate challos, when there is a lack o f concern on your part towards the sensitivity of your wife, who has feelings and became embarrassed?”

 Only when the man asked his wife to forgive him did Rabbi Salanter consent to remain and partake of his Shabbos meal.

To paraphrase the famous saying that charity begins at home – Holiness begins at home and a man should “consecrate his house to be holy….”(Leviticus 27:14).

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