Speak and You Shall Say

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by R. Eliezer Simcha Weisz

Speak and You Shall Say: A Light for Ourselves and Our Children in Times of Darkness- Drawing Inspiration From Great Moments

“G-d said to Moshe: Speak to the kohanim, the sons of Aaron, and you shall say to them: A man shall not defile himself for a deceased among his people.” (Leviticus 21:1) Rashi points out that the Torah uses the words “speak” and then “you shall say,” even though this seems redundant and unnecessary. This repetition teaches us that the great ones גדולים adults must warn the small ones  קטנים children not to become defiled. “Speak and you shall say” to warn the great ones about the small ones.” אמור ואמרת להזהיר הגדולים על הקטנים (רש”י)

The word “to warn” להזהיר has a double meaning and a dual message.

The word “to warn” symbolizes both warning and illumination, as in the phrase זהר הרקיע “radiance of the firmament” (the light of the heavens). Therefore, the expression “to warn” reminds us that effective guidance includes not only warning but also illumination and positive development.

There is also double meaning to “great” גדולים and “small” קטנים. The concept of “great” and “small” contains a double meaning. It refers not only to adults and children but also to the “great” (moments) in life and the “small” (moments) in life.  

We all experience the processes of the great and small moments in life that can leave us uninspired, despairing, or depressed. However, these great moments are a source of strength that will keep us empowered in the small moments. We must draw inspiration from the ‘great’ moments to navigate the ‘small’ ones and remember that the challenges in life are ultimately overcome by bright and clear moments. We must always look at the bright side of life. This is the other side of the expression “to warn the great about the small” for each of us. We must bring ourselves to connect with the “great” (moments) even in times of “small” (moments) in life or moments of difficulty. And this is mainly by remembering the bright moments.

It cannot be ignored – these are times of “small” for the Jewish people in which we face great challenges. It is easy to feel uninspired, down, or even depressed. However, it is precisely now that the message of the “great” becomes most vital.

Hope can be found in the words of the prophet Yeshayahu (54:7) that give us strength in these times of “small” (small moments): “For a brief moment I deserted you, but with great compassion I will gather you.”  בְּרֶגַע קָטֹן עֲזַבְתִּיךְ וּבְרַחֲמִים גְּדֹלִים אֲקַבְּצֵךְ.

The moments of hardship are temporary, just as G-d has brought us through the darkness in the past, His divine guidance will lead us again, with great compassion.

In conclusion, the message of “Speak and you shall say” “to warn the great about the small” is a powerful reminder for our community. We are called to both educate and protect our “small ones,” especially during challenges. Yet, even in these “small” moments (moments of hardship),, the light of our “great” experience’s shines through. With unwavering faith, we can navigate hardship and emerge into brighter moments that embrace us all.

About Eliezer Simcha Weisz

Rabbi Eliezer Simcha Weisz is a member of The Chief Rabbinate Council of Israel

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