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Sunday, 11 January 2015

Are you really a cohen?

 Daf Yomi Yevamos 99


In the early days of the great debate between the Chasidim and the Misnagdim, a certain chasid told Rabbi Dovber, the Magid of Mezritch, that the Misnagdim were accusing them of feigning piety. 
Replied the Magid, ‘Our Rabbis tell us that if one feigns a particular sickness, one will eventually come down with that sickness.  So let the Chasidim feign piety – the worst that could happen is that one day we might become pious!’

The Mishnah states: If a priestly wife confused her baby with that of her maidservant, both children may partake of the terumah (priestly tithes).  And they receive one portion at the granary. 
The Gemara asks: Is it not obvious that they receive one portion?
The Gemara answers: It means that they receive the portion as one.  In other words, they must both be present to receive the tithes, for our Mishnah accords with Rabbi Judah who holds that we only give tithes to a servant of a priest if his master is present.

Why is that so?  In Rabbi Judah’s jurisdiction, they would determine a person’s lineage based on the testimony of people who witnessed them receiving the tithes.   If the priestly master were not present, people might mistakenly assume that the servant was a priest. 
Rabbi Elazar bar Tzadok exclaimed, “I have only ever once testified regarding lineage and due to my declaration, they elevated a servant to the status of a priest!”

You are a priest of G-d.  You might feel like a humble servant, but in the Almighty’s eyes, you are the holiest of the holy!  If you would only declare it, you could be elevated in a mere moment.

You might not feel worthy.  Many of us go through life thinking ‘that’s not me, who am I trying to fool?’  But listen to the great teaching of the Magid: the more you strive to act like a priest, the sooner you will become one.  Pay no heed to what anyone else thinks or says.  You know that deep down, you are really a priest of G-d and one day you will shine forth for all to see.

My dear priest, you have incredible potential!  Some people prefer being a nobody in life, because that means they can do whatever they like.  Becoming a priest takes commitment, hard work, and dedication.  It means being a role model, a source of inspiration to all those around you.  But you know you have it in you.  You know that the Almighty has greatness in store for you.

Elevate yourself!  In the Almighty eyes, you are already a priest!  May you merit having the vision to transform yourself from servant to priest and become an inspiration to your family, to your community, and to the world!