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    Parashat Emor
    begins with the special
    laws that apply to
    the Kohanim. The
    commentators noted
    that the Torah opens this section with a
    seemingly redundant phrase: “G-d said to
    Moshe: Speak to the Kohanim, the sons of
    Aharon, and say to them…” Surprisingly,
    G-d instructs Moshe to “speak to the
    Kohanim” and “say to them” that they are
    bound by the special laws of the priesthood,
    suggesting that these laws are to be spoken
    to the Kohanim twice, and the obvious
    question arises as to why this is the case.
    The Sages answered that the second phrase
    – “and say to them” – was added “Le’hazhir
    He’gedolim Al Ha’ketanim,” to require
    the adult Kohanim to ensure that their
    children also comply with these rules. This
    instruction is repeated to indicate that the
    Kohanim must not only obey these special
    laws, but also see to it that their children do
    the same.
    While this explanation answers the
    question regarding the redundancy in this
    verse, we cannot overlook the fact that
    the text here makes no mention at all of
    the children. This statement refers to the
    instructions given only to the Kohanim

    themselves about their compliance with
    their laws. Yet, somehow, this repetition
    also speaks of the successful transmission
    of these laws to the next generation, to the
    Kohanim’s offspring.
    The reason why this is so touches upon
    one of the fundamentals of parenting:
    actions speak much louder than words. The
    way the Torah admonishes the Kohanim
    to ensure their children’s compliance with
    these laws is by repeating the requirement
    that they themselves comply with these
    laws – because that is the most effective
    educational strategy. Preaching and scolding
    children has far less of an effect than
    teaching by personal example. If we want
    our children to grow with an appreciation of
    and commitment to tradition, we have to set
    an example for them to follow. We have to
    show them just how important tradition is to
    us, how far we ourselves go to observe the
    Torah, and there is then a good chance that
    they will follow suit.
    The story is told of a certain Rabbi who
    ate breakfast with his family and then left to
    the yeshiva where he taught. Upon arriving
    in the yeshiva, he realized that he had not
    recited Birkat Ha’mazon. The house was
    not a short walk from his house, but he
    nevertheless put on his jacket, went out into

    the winter cold, and made the trek home.
    His son was surprised to see his father come
    in at that hour, and the father explained to
    him that he needed to return home to recite
    Birkat Ha’mazon.
    The Hinuch (training in Mitzvot) that was
    achieved by the Rabbi that morning was
    more than could possibly be achieved by
    any amount of lecturing and haranguing
    about the importance of Birkat Ha’mazon.
    The child saw his father’s commitment to
    this Mitzvah, and this spoke much louder
    than any words.
    This applies not only to child-rearing,
    but also more generally to our desire to
    influence the people around us and have a
    positive impact upon the Jewish people and
    the world. When we look around, it is hard
    not to notice the major spiritual ills plaguing
    contemporary Jewry, even within our
    relatively narrow circle of Orthodox Jewry.
    Many things upset us, as well they should,
    issues such as laxity in Shabbat and Kashrut
    observance, immodesty, dishonesty,
    Lashon Ha’ra, and so many others. We
    must remember that if we want to bring
    about change, the most powerful weapon
    in our arsenal is the personal example we
    set. We will not change the Jewish people
    by complaining and protesting. Change

    happens slowly and gradually, as a result of
    people seeing inspiring examples of proper
    The Hebrew word for “influence” is
    “Hashpa’a,” which comes from the same
    root as the Hebrew word for “incline”
    (“Shipu’a”). Rav Yaakov Kaminetzky
    (1891-1986) explained that influence
    works like drops of liquid trickling down
    an incline. It happens slowly and gradually.
    When we set a positive example through
    the way we conduct ourselves, we trigger a
    “trickle down effect” which will, with time,
    have an impact. Going around criticizing
    and protesting will accomplish little, if
    anything, and, more often than not, will have
    the very opposite effect of what we want. If
    we want to have Hashpa’a, we need to have
    it “trickle down” by setting an example that
    we want the people around us to follow.