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Real, not fake happiness

Good Shabbos!

This weeks Parsha, Parshas Shemini, contains the tragic death of Aharon’s sons Nadav and Avihu. After their death, Hashem gives a special prophecy to Aharon, teaching him not to drink wine when it is time to do the priestly service and “to distinguish between the sacred and the profane, and between the impure and the pure.” There are varying explanations of the juxtaposition of these ideas, including a beautiful thought from the Haamek Davar. The Haamek Davar explains that when people are sad they often turn to wine or other alcoholic beverages to seek happiness. Hashem was offering Aharon another method of happiness: clarity. When a person is confused about their mission in life, or about the difference between the sacred and the mundane, it can be very troubling. On the other hand when a person has clarity in their life, they have peace and serenity. Many people struggle in life with a lack of clarity, and that lack poisons their happiness, eats away at their relationships and leaves a void that they struggle to fill. In order to obtain that clarity and live our life to the fullest we need to have the clarity of what is the essence, the holy part of our life, what is the mundane that we need but which should not serve as the core of our life and what is the impure which we should avoid where we can and acknowledge where we can’t. Where can we find this clarity? For that we look at the next verse, where Hashem teaches Aharon to use that clarity to teach the Torah that Hashem gave to Moshe. This week let’s try to use the Torah to clarify some priorities in our lives and by doing so have a Shabbos filled with happiness and serenity. Have a great Shabbos!

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