Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Rama, zt”l, provides a wondrous explanation of the placement--and the avodah--of the laver. “The Tzror Hamor, zt”l, teaches that a person must wash away all spiritual filth, as we find in Yeshayah, 'רחצו הזכו'. It is for this reason that Hashem commanded us to make the laver and place water in it. Anyone who wishes to come close to Hashem and enter the environs of the Shechinah must first remove the foreign ideologies that defile both his body and his soul. Based on this, we can understand why the kior was fashioned from mirrors. Washing ourselves represents the self-examination that is the prerequisite of true internal change. This is also why we find that the kior was positioned a bit south of the altar. The southern side where the menorah stood alludes to wisdom, as we find in Bava Basra. Purifying one’s mind and attitude requires wisdom.”
Negative attitudes and false perspectives are easily overlooked. We must check our reflection carefully: Do things we say, although they are well meant, sometimes have a subtle tone of kefirah or leitzanus to them? When we have a question, are we sure to phrase it in a way that does not betray a lack of respect for the sages?
A certain person once asked the Alter of Kelm, zt”l, a very penetrating question. Based on his understanding there was a clear contradiction in the sources that could not be reconciled. Although the Alter often fielded such difficult questions, he felt that the way the question was phrased revealed a kernel of apikorsus in the questioner’s heart. He immediately called out this young but brilliant student on his false beliefs and expelled him from the Talmud Torah when he would not recant.
Years later this very same student—now a famous gadol—always related with the greatest respect to the Alter. It was clear that he had no claim against the harsh treatment he had received. On the contrary, he understood that the Alter had been correct and changed himself for the better.

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