Friday, February 21, 2014

Follow Your Nose

I'm going to share a secret with you. If you're trying to sell your home, right before a potential buyer arrives, knead together a fluffy dough, and put it in the oven to bake. As the viewer come inside, the delicious aroma of fresh bread will enter his nostrils, bringing a message to the brain that this is a homey, comfortable house, which might ultimately lead him to buy it.

We often come in contact with the sense of seeing, the sense of hearing, as well as the senses of touch and taste. How many times has the sense of smell  been acknowledged? Let's get in touch a bit with our smelling sensation.

The Torah speaks a lot about the korbanos, describing them as a REIACH NICHOACH for Hashem. By wording it like this, the possuk seems to indicate that there must be something spiritual about smell.

You probably think I'm about to tell you what a holy, spiritual, enlightening, and inspiring concept smell is. Don't hold your breath. I'm not even sure yet where I'm going with this.

 Here's was I know about smell. Our sense of smell is 10,000 times more sensitive than any other of our senses and recognition of smell is immediate. Other senses like touch and taste must travel through the body via neurons and the spinal cord before reaching the brain whereas the olfactory response is immediate, extending directly to the brain without an intermediary. To see, we need the use of our eyeball lenses. To hear, we need the vibrations in our eardrums. Smelling is the only place where our central nervous system is directly exposed to the environment.
The smelling sensation just goes straight to the brain.

Chaza"l  tell us that a talmid chacham is compared to the Arzei halelvonon, a type of tree. Why? Rav Adler from Baltimore said once that it's because by the arzei halevonon, not only do the flowers release a delicious smell, but the branches and leaves do as well. When a talmid chacham does mitzvos, of course they're done beautifully and sweetly. But the insight over here is that when a person is a talmid chacham, then even his regular and mundane activities are done with beauty and emanate a certain sweetness. The way he talks, walks, deals in business...everything has a delicious smell. Not only the maasim tovim. 

 Why am I saying that his mitzvos and maasim tovim are compared to the smell of the fruits of the tree? Cuz the essrog, which smells incredibly good is compared by chaza"l to the maasim tovim of a person.

There is another topic discussed in the parsha this week. It's something especially applicable to the lucky members of the  female species, but the lesson is for everyone. No, I'm not having an ADD moment; we'll connect the two topics in a minute.

The gorgeous, shiny kiyor in the mishkan, as everyone knows, was crafted by using the famous mirrors of the women in Mitzraim. 
Why were these mirrors worthy of being used for the holy kiyor? Because of the reason the women used them. They didn't sit and stare at themselves all day to make sure every hair was in place, and all the spare tires are tucked in tight. 
 These righteous women had a plan. Their husbands were tired and depressed from the backbreaking labor they were busy with all day. They looked at the future in darkness. The light at the end of the tunnel had burned out. They wanted to discontinue life. They couldn't allow children to be born into such misery.

But, their brilliant, holy wives realized that even though the light was out, it will shine brightly again one day. And then they would regret not doing the mitzvah of peru urevu- having children. So they decided that the only way to fix up the situation was to seduce their husbands to make them want to fulfill this mitzvah. So they put on makeup, and flirted, and using the mirrors, they pointed out to them how beautiful they looked. Obviously, it worked. And this is why those mirrors are so holy. 

Because in the world we live in, there's a time and place for everything. Hashem  put into the nature of a woman, the ability to flirt and seduce. Unfortunately it's usually used, and therefore viewed, as something negative. But in reality it's not at all something to be denied and deleted. God gave it to us to use in the right time and the right place, which is what those women in Egypt realized. Their intentions were pure. Their motivation was directed upward. And they used their abilities l'sheim shomayim.

And that's with everything God gave us. Our duty in life is to take the regular, mundane things, and elevate them. 
To turn neutral into good 
 Like the Talmid chacham. Even the regular and the mundane is sweet. The whole tree smells good, not just the fruits and flowers.

Look at that, we made it holy. 

Have a beautiful shabbos,