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CIRCLE OF FRIENDS

by Stuart W.    
Torah from Dixie Staff Writer    

"Silverberg residence."

"Hello, this is David Goldstein..."

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"Silverberg residence."

"Hello, this is David Goldstein..."

"Dave!! How's it goin', buddy? It's so good to hear from you! What's up?

"Um, I'm calling about money. . ."

"You need a loan? No problem! I'd do anything for a friend like you. How much 'ya need? Five grand? Ten grand? You name it, you got it."

"Actually, five grand would be unbelievable."

"Hey Dave, do you remember when we were kids, and we got stuck in the treehouse? Our parents went crazy looking for us, and they almost called the FBI. Boy, did we have the time of our lives!"

"Mr. Silverberg, I have to be honest with you. I'm not the 'Dave' that you know. I am David Goldstein with the Israel Charity Fund, and I am calling to ask you for a donation."

"Oh. Uh, sure, Mr. Goldstein; I'm sorry, I thought you were someone else. I would be glad to give, uh, twenty dollars."

"Excuse me, sir, but you were willing to lend your friend ten thousand dollars. Couldn't you spare a little more than twenty dollars?"

"Sorry, Mr. Goldstein. We were just in a recession back in 1992, and I've got bills to pay and a wife and children to feed, in addition to paying off my Porsche. I'll send you a check." (Click)

This week's Torah portion enumerates all of the non-kosher birds. One of the birds listed is the chasidah bird, commonly translated as the stork. The Talmud states that this bird is called chasidah because it does chesed, which in Hebrew means performing acts of kindness. In the Hebrew language, the name of something reveals its essential characteristic. The Midrash informs us that the first man, Adam, looked into the essence of every animal and named it accordingly. The donkey, for example, is characterized by carrying heavy, physical burdens. In Hebrew, the donkey is called chamor, coming from the same etymological root as chomer, which means physicality. The donkey (chamor) typifies physicality (chomer).

This is why the stork is called chasidah, because it does chesed, acts of kindness, by giving food to its friends. Most of the birds that are not kosher have poor characteristics, such as the falcon and vulture, which are vicious birds of prey. However, if the chasidah has the desirable trait of giving to others, why does the Torah say that it is not kosher? The Chidushei HaRim, the 19th century founder of the Ger Chasidim, explains that the chasidah's generosity is limited to its own circle of friends, and it does not give to others. Such partisan kindness is not what the Torah wishes us to practice.

We are now in the beginning of the 49-day period known as the sefirat haomer, when many troubles befell our people, including the deaths of Rabbi Akiva's 24,000 students. The reason for this was because of baseless hatred among the Jewish people, the same reason, the Talmud says, why the Second Temple was destroyed. The Talmud also states that since the Temple was destroyed because of baseless hatred, it will only be rebuilt through baseless love. Let us endeavor to love all of our fellow Jews. In this way we will succeed, with Hashem's help, to break the barriers and cliques that separate us, and we will again unite as one nation to witness the rebuilding of the Temple, speedily in our days.

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