All his life, Rav Chaim Kreiswirth zt”l was involved in collecting tz’dakah for the poor and needy and helping other people. In the latter part of his life, Rav Kreiswirth was extremely active raising hachnasas kallah funds for poor orphans, as well as supporting Yeshivas Merkaz HaTorah, where he was the Rosh HaYeshivah. Baruch Hashem, he was quite a successful fundraiser, in no small measure due to an amazing story that he was very much a part of.

When World War II broke out, Rav Boruch HaLevi Leizerovski zt”l, the rav of the Lithuanian shul in the Polish city of Lodz, was shipped to Auschwitz and became another non-descript prisoner in that most blood-soaked of all human habitats. Upon arrival, all inmates underwent the “selektzia” (selection) by the inhuman beast, Dr. Mengele. With a minor indication of his finger, this “elegant monster” indicated who would live and who would die. Like hundreds of thousands before him, Rav Boruch passed by and, as a healthy young man, was directed to the right – the work brigade – rather than to the gas chambers. Close to three horrifying years followed, years of backbreaking labor and starvation, years of indescribable pain and anguish.

The Torah commands us to treat our poor and impoverished brethren with dignity and respect. The Alshich HaKadosh zt”l explains that if one sees that his friend or neighbor has become impoverished, he must consider that person as “your brother,” literally as your family member, because the whole reason why there are poor people in the world is just so the wealthy can gain merit through them by giving tz’dakah and supporting them. If not for the poor, these wealthy people would have fewer z’chuyos. Thus, the Torah states: “You must support that he shall live.” In other words, support him while he is still considered “alive” and he has not fallen into total indigence and destitution, when he is considered as if he was dead. The wealth and riches that HaKadosh Baruch Hu doles out to those who are fortunate to receive Heavenly bounty are meant to give life to our brothers. That is the purpose of wealth.

The Torah makes it very clear that the plague of Tzaraas (“Leprosy”) that afflicts one who speaks lashon ha’ra, is not a natural occurrence, but rather a Divine retribution that is meant to punish the sinner. His only recourse is to absolve himself of this disease through repentance and a sincere effort to distance himself from his sin. The sooner he does t’shuvah, the sooner the plague will go away, and no medication, ointment, or healing remedy will have any effect on his ailing body, since this disease is not a natural one. This, says the Alshich HaKadosh zt”l, is the deeper understanding of the pasuk: “And behold, the tzaraas affliction has been healed...from the m’tzora.” In other words, it is up to the m’tzora to rid himself of this plague through t’shuvah – not through medicinal or restorative means.

The first pasuk in Parshas Emor is unusual due to the repetition of the words, “Say to the kohanim,” and then again, “You shall say to them.” Rashi quotes the Gemara that the repetition should be interpreted as follows: “Say to them” – relate to them these words: “You must tell your children not to defile themselves.” Each kohen is exhorted to teach his children to follow the special laws affecting the kohanim, for it is what their lives are all about. The lesson here is two-fold: If a parent wishes his children to identify with Jewish ideals, they must be taught by example to follow those ideals. Secondly, Jewish ideals must occupy a significant place in a child’s view on life. Jewish education in a significant measure, with parents setting the example, is the only tried and true method of raising children who make Jewish identity a priority in their lives.

The commandment to eat matzah on the holiday of Pesach is prefaced with the words: “And you shall guard the matzos.” Jewish tradition calls for keeping watch over the matzah from the time the wheat is taken to the mill to be ground into flour, and it is kept under careful supervision to ensure that it does not come into contact with water or any other moisture. The grinding, packing, and transporting of the wheat from the mill to the bakery is done under the strictest supervision, to ensure that it does not come into contact with water, and all of the utensils used for processing the wheat must be clean and dry.