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Parshas Tzav/Pesach - Vol. 12, Issue 24
Compiled by Oizer Alport


Aish tamud tukad al hamizbeiach lo sich'beh (6:6)

The Shelah HaKadosh writes in the name of Rav Moshe Cordovero that a person who is troubled by sinful thoughts should repeat the verse Aish tamud tukad al hamizbeiach lo sich'beh (6:6) - a permanent fire shall burn on the Altar; it shall not be extinguished - as doing so will help him remove the forbidden ideas from his mind. The Shelah HaKadosh adds that it is clear that to him this advice was revealed to Rav Cordovero by Eliyahu HaNavi himself, but in his great humility, he chose not to disclose the source of his mystical knowledge.

Rav Shimshon Pinkus suggests that while there are certainly deep kabbalistic concepts at work, we may also attempt to comprehend the logical understanding of this technique. The Ramban writes in one of his treatises (Derashas Toras Hashem Temimah) that the entire Torah consists of various Divine names, and every verse contains names relevant to the concepts discussed therein.

For example, Hashem's name which is associated with the revival of the dead is contained in the episode in which the prophet Yechezkel revives dry bones (Yechezkel 37:1-14). Similarly, the Mishnah Berurah writes (98:2) that the recitation of the verse (Tehillim 51:12) Lev Tahor b'rah li Elokim v'ruach nachon chadesh b'kirbee - Create in me, Hashem, a pure heart, and renew within me a proper spirit - can be helpful in restoring purity of mind and heart. Rabbeinu Bechaye writes (6:2) that the Korban Olah is burnt throughout the night because it is offered to atone for inappropriate thoughts, which are most prevalent during the night. In light of this explanation, it isn't surprising that a verse discussing a sacrifice which effects atonement for impure thoughts also contains within it a special ability to ward them off.

U'basar zevach todas shelamav b'yom korbano yei'achel
lo yaniach mimenu ad boker (7:15)

With regards to virtually every type of sacrifice, the Torah requires that they be burned on the Altar and consumed by the following morning. It is forbidden to leave over their meat to be eaten the next day. If there are an insufficient number of Kohanim to eat the meat within the allotted time, it becomes prohibited and must be burned, which seems wasteful and unnecessary. Why is the Torah so insistent that the offerings be eaten before the following morning?

Rav Shimon Greenfeld explains that in reality, the concept of leaving any food over from one day to the next demonstrates a lack of trust in Hashem to provide for one's daily needs. A person who truly believes that Hashem will sustain Him daily has no need to keep food from one day to the next, as he has no fear of waking up to confront a bare pantry. At the same time, the Torah doesn't prohibit us from doing so, as Hashem recognizes that we conduct ourselves according to laws of nature which govern the world in which we live.

At the same time, if a person experiences Hashem interacting with him in an openly miraculous manner, he then becomes required to reciprocate by placing his entire trust in Hashem to protect and provide for him. For this reason, it was forbidden to leave over any of the Manna from one day to the next. Because Hashem was clearly sustaining the Jewish people in the wilderness in a miraculous way, they were required to conduct themselves on a correspondingly high level of bitachon (trust in Hashem) and were therefore forbidden to preserve any food from one day to the next.

Similarly, the Beis HaMikdash was a place where open miracles happened constantly (Avos 5:5) and Hashem's presence could be palpably experienced. Therefore, even though it was perfectly understandable for a person to keep his kitchen stocked for his daily needs, it was forbidden for those offering sacrifices in the Beis HaMikdash to do so in light of the spiritual conditions which existed there.

K'neged arba'ah banim dibrah Torah: Echad chacham, v'echad rasha, v'echad tam, v'echad she'eino yodei'a lishol (Maggid)

The Haggadah teaches that the Torah addresses four different types of children and instructs us how to educate each of them about the Exodus from Egypt. In his sefer Shemen HaTov, Rav Dov Weinberger points out that when examining the verses which record the questions posed by the three types of sons who are capable of asking questions, the Torah (Shemos 13:14 and Devorim 6:20) introduces the questions of the wise son and the simple son with the words Ki yishalcha bincha machar - when your son asks you tomorrow - but in conjunction with the question attributed to the wicked son, the word machar (tomorrow) is omitted.

Rav Weinberger explains that although the wise and simple sons have questions about the Exodus from Egypt, the Torah tells us that they only ask their questions the following day. On Pesach itself, they are focused on performing the mitzvos that they recognize that they are obligated to do, and only after they have fulfilled their obligations do they ask about what they did so that they can better understand the mitzvos. The wicked son, on the other, insists on asking his question today, because if he is unable to understand the mitzvah and doesn't receive a satisfactory answer to his question, he will refuse to perform the mitzvah. This is what makes him wicked, as it is the diametric opposite of the Jewish attitude of נעשה ונשמע - we will do and we will listen (Shemos 24:7).

Similarly, the Kotzker Rebbe points out that we declare Ein K'Elokeinu - there is none like our G-d - and only afterwards do we ask Mi K'Elokeinu - who is like our G-d. He explains that this teaches us that asking questions is permissible and encouraged, but only after one has clearly established and accepted the fundamental tenets of Jewish belief.

Rav Chaim Soloveitchik had a student who unfortunately left yeshiva and abandoned the Torah lifestyle. Many years later Rav Chaim was visiting the city where this student lived, and the student came to visit him. He said to Rav Chaim, "I have a number of questions and doubts about Hashem and Jewish beliefs. Can we discuss them?"

Rav Chaim responded, "I'll be happy to sit down and talk to you about your questions, but first tell me one thing: did your questions come before you stopped observing Shabbos or afterward?" The student replied that the doubts developed after he began to desecrate Shabbos. Rav Chaim responded that in that case, the student didn't have questions but answers. In other words, he had already decided not to adhere to the Torah, but he began to feel guilty over his decisions, so he developed questions to rationalize and justify his decisions. Rav Chaim added, "I'm happy to answer questions, but for answers I have no answers."

This theme is one of the lessons of the four sons. Questions are fine, even from a wise child, as long as they are asked "tomorrow," after one has accepted the primary and unshakeable obligation to perform the mitzvos. However, if the questions are a prerequisite to observing the Torah's commandments, it is an indication that we are unfortunately dealing with a wicked son.

L'shana ha'ba'ah B'Yerushalayim (Nirtzah)

The Pesach Seder begins with a prayer: This year we are here, but next year we should be in the land of Israel. The Haggadah also ends with this same theme: Next year in Jerusalem. The reason for this emphasis is that a complete Seder includes the consumption of the Korban Pesach, which can only be offered in the Temple in Jerusalem, which is currently in ruins.

However, once we are focusing on our desire for the speedy rebuilding of the Beis HaMikdash, it is surprising that nowhere in the Haggadah do we discuss why we in fact presently lack the Temple and work on rectifying the sins which brought about its destruction. The Gemora teaches (Yoma 9b) teaches that the second Temple was destroyed because of the sin of baseless hatred, and it will not be rebuilt until we correct the problem of fighting and divisiveness. In light of this, it would seem appropriate to address this sin at some point and to help us take corrective action to atone for it.

The Ben Ish Chai suggests that this concept is in fact found in the Haggadah. It is alluded to by the question in which we point out that on all other nights, we do not dip even one time, but tonight we dip twice. He explains that the first dipping at the Seder, in which we dip the vegetable into salt water, is intended to remind us of the first time that dipping is mentioned in the Torah, when Yosef's brothers dipped his clothing into blood in order to deceive Yaakov into thinking that he had been killed by a wild animal. This act represents the sin of baseless hatred which led to our enslavement in Egypt, and from which we have suffered as a nation throughout the generations.

The second dipping that we do at the Seder, dipping the maror into the charoses, corresponds to the second act of dipping that we find in the Torah. In Parshas Bo (Shemos 12:22), Hashem commanded the Jewish people to take an agudas eizov - a bundle of hyssop - and dip it in the blood of the Passover-offering, which they then placed on their doorposts in order to protect themselves from the plague of the slaying of the first-born. The Ben Ish Chai points out that that in discussing this second dipping, the Torah uses the term agudah, which refers to a bundle that is bound together. This symbolizes the concept of Jewish unity, and it was precisely this sense of togetherness which rectified the sin of the original dipping of Yosef's brothers, and which therefore enabled them to be freed from their bitter servitude in Egypt.

Rav Mattisyahu Salomon notes that the Rema writes (Orach Chaim 476:2) that many people have the custom to eat an egg at the Seder as a symbol of mourning, since Tisha B'Av falls on the same night of the week as the first night of Pesach. At the Seder we remember the Exodus from Egypt and yearn for the future redemption, but we also remind ourselves of the reason that we are still in exile. This is symbolized by first dipping the karpas in saltwater to recall the sin of the sale of Yosef and then dipping maror in charoses which can sweeten our bitter exile through unity and togetherness.

If Tisha B'Av still comes on that night later that year, it is an indication that we didn't sufficiently internalize these lessons and rectify these sins. As our children ask us about the two-fold dipping, let us resolve to properly understand its message so that this year we may follow-up our commemoration of the Exodus from Egypt on Pesach with a celebration on Tisha B'Av of our redemption from our current exile.

As we go through the Seder, it is critical that we reflect upon and internalize the message of the two dippings. Just as we were enslaved in Egypt due to the jealousy of Yosef's brothers but were freed when we united and came together as one nation, so too the only way for us to be redeemed from our current exile, which was also brought about through the sins of hatred and divisiveness, is to promote peace and harmony among all Jews. Perhaps this is one of the reasons that we begin the Seder by saying that whoever is hungry, let him come and eat - as we express our desire to bring everybody together to eat the Passover-offering together with us, which we should all merit to do this year.

Ki asher re'isem es Mitzrayim ha'yom lo sosifu lirosam od ad olam (Shemos 14:13)

The Beis HaLevi, who served as the Rav of the city of Brisk, was once studying with his son Chaim when a man entered to ask the Rav a question. The man had gotten into a major disagreement with a friend of his. In the heat of the moment, he took a vow swearing that he would never again see his friend. However, the friend had just passed away.

The man who took the vow served on the city's chevra kaddisha (organization which ritually prepares the dead for proper burial) and wanted to know if he was permitted to help prepare the body for the funeral. He reasoned that perhaps "seeing" his friend's dead body wasn't really considered seeing and wouldn't violate his oath. He came to ask the Rav's opinion on the matter. The Beis HaLevi turned to his son Chaim, then a young lad of eight, to ask for his thoughts on the subject.

Rav Chaim replied that the question is explicitly answered in the week's Torah portion (which was Beshalach). Moshe told the Jewish people not to worry, as they would never again see their Egyptian oppressors. However, several verses later we are told that they saw the Egyptians dead on the seashore. The Medrash explains that they didn't see the Egyptian bodies from a distance. Each Jew was able to discern the face of the Egyptian who had been his personal taskmaster, which would seem to violate the promise made by Moshe. Rather, we can conclude from here that "seeing" somebody after his death isn't considered seeing at all.

U'sefartem lachem mi'macharas ha'Shabbos (Vayikra 23:15)

Rav Yitzchok Zilberstein relates that a weak and sickly centenarian once approached him shortly before Pesach with an interesting legal question. The law is that a person who forgets or for any reason is unable to count even one night of Sefiras HaOmer is unable to continue counting on successive nights with a blessing, as the nightly counting over the course of the seven weeks is considered to be one extended mitzvah.

According to many opinions, the blessings that he recited until then are retroactively considered to have been in vain. The man's doctors told him that based on his poor medical condition, he would surely die before Shavuos, seven weeks later. He wanted to know whether he was permitted to recite the nightly blessing when beginning to count Sefiras HaOmer, as the laws of nature seemed to indicate that he would be prevented from successfully completing the mitzvah, thereby invalidating his blessings.

Rav Zilberstein responded that when a clever child has a tremendous craving for a sweet which his mother refuses to give him, he will shrewdly recite its appropriate blessing she'hakol nih'yeh bidvaro, essentially forcing his mother to give him a bite so that his blessing shouldn't be in vain. Similarly, Rav Zilberstein advised the man that by beginning to count with a blessing, he could in effect "force" the Heavenly Court to allow him to remain alive until after Shavuos in order to complete the mitzvah. It shouldn't be surprising that, contrary to the doctor's prognosis, the man indeed passed away the week after Shavuos.

Answers to the weekly Points to Ponder are now available!
To receive the full version with answers email the author at oalport@optonline.net.

Parsha Points to Ponder (and sources which discuss them):

1) Parshas Tzav begins with the mitzvah of removing the ashes of the consumed sacrifices from the Altar (Vayikra 6:3-4). Was this mitzvah also performed on Shabbos, and if not, which prohibited labor(s) would be transgressed by doing so? (Mikdash Dovid 32:2, Ayeles HaShachar)

2) At the end of the Seder, we sing L'shana ha'ba'ah b'Yerushalayim - next year in Jerusalem. This is one of two times that we express this sentiment, the other being at the end of Yom Kippur. What is unique about these two occasions that specifically motivates us to pray that next year we should be celebrating in Jerusalem, more than on any of the other Yomim Tovim?

3) Hashem instructed Moshe (Shemos 12:13) to command the Jewish people to place the blood from their Passover sacrifices on their doorposts to serve as a sign so that He would pass over their houses without harming them. Since Hashem clearly knew who was in each house, why was the blood necessary? (Rabbeinu Bechaye)

4) Is a person obligated to own the matzah that he eats to fulfill his obligation at the Seder (12:15), and if so, if he is a guest, is he required to perform an action to acquire the matzah that he will eat? (S'fas Emes Sukkah 35a, Imrei Binah Hilchos Pesach 24, Mishnah Berurah 454:15. Shu"t B'tzeil HaChochmah 4:172, Shu"t Tzitz Eliezer 2:37 and 13:15, Moadim U'Zmanim 3:266, Shu"t Mishneh Halachos 8:191, Piskei Teshuvos 454:2)

5) Although Hashem commanded Moshe (14:16) to lift up his staff and stretch out his arm over the Red Sea in order to split it for the Jewish people, the Torah relates (14:21) only that he stretched out his hand over the sea in order to do so. Did Moshe also raise his staff as he was commanded, and if so, why is no mention made of it in the Torah, and if not, why did he deviate from Hashem's instructions? (Targum Yonason ben Uziel 2:21 14:21, Shemos Rabbah 21:9, Rashi 17:5, Rosh, Rabbeinu Bechaye, Tur HeAruch, Kli Yakar, HaAmek Davar, Ayeles HaShachar)

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