Thoughts on the Weekly Parshah by HaRav Eliezer Chrysler
Formerly Rav of Mercaz Ahavat Torah, Johannesburg

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Vol. 13   No. 26

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l'iluy Nishmas Dov ben Tuvia z"l

Parshas Shemini

Two Sets of Korbanos
(adapted mainly from the K'li Yakar)

This is how Targum Yonasan summarizes the calf for a Chatas (a sin-offering) and a ram for an Olah (a burned-offering) brought by Aharon on his own behalf, and the goat for a Chatas and calf and lamb for an Olah that he brought on behalf of K'lal Yisrael on the eighth and final day of the Milu'im (the consecration of the Mishkan).

The calf for a Chatas, he explains, was to counter the role that he played in the sin of the Golden Calf, whereas the ram and the lamb that he and Yisrael respectively, brought for an Olah, played a positive role of evoking the merit of Yitzchak, in whose stead Avraham ultimately sacrificed a ram.

The goat for Yisrael's Chatas, on the other hand, came to atone for the sin of the sale of Yosef (where they later Shechted a goat, before dipping Yosef's special shirt into its blood), whereas the calf for an Olah atoned for having worshipped the Golden Calf.


Why, asks the K'li Yakar, was Aharon's calf brought in the form of a Chatas, whilst that of K'lal Yisrael was brought as an Olah, since both came to atone for the same sin?

Based on the fact that a Chatas is generally brought for a sinful deed, whereas an Olah is brought for a sinful thought, he explains that since Aharon (who manufactured the Golden Calf but did not actually worship it) sinned in deed but not in thought, he needed to bring a Chatas, but not an Olah. Yisrael, on the other hand, who worshipped the Calf, sinned in thought too, and they therefore had to bring an Olah. Bear in mind, that, although regarding other sins, sinning in deed is worse than sinning in thought, this is not true in the realm of Avodah-Zarah, where accepting another god in one's mind is infinitely worse, and so bringing an Olah is a more severe punishment.


What remains difficult, the K'li Yakar adds, is why Yisrael, who sinned in deed as well, did not have to bring a Korban Chatas, too (see Rashi, Bamidbar 15:22)?

And he resolves the problem by ascribing Yisrael's goat for the sin-offering to the sin of Shechting Korbanos to the Golden Calf, as the Pasuk says in Acharei-Mos "And they will no longer Shecht their Korbanos to the goats ... " (though this clashes with Targum Yonasan's interpretation of the goat that we cited earlier).

Aharon, on the other hand, who did not sacrifice to the Golden Calf, but merely manufactured it, brought a calf as a Chatas. And this will explain the Torah's change of expression from "and come before G-d" by Aharon (in Pasuk 2) to "to Shecht before G-d" by Yisrael. According to the simple explanation, says the K'li Yakar, this is because whereas Aharon was permitted to sacrifice Korbanos (in which case "ve'hakreiv lifnei Hashem" means 'and sacrifice it before G-d'), Yisrael could only Shecht them (since Shechitah may be performed by a non-Kohen).

On a deeper level however, he bases the Torah's distinction on the fact that the purpose of Korbanos is to cause the sinner to become broken in spirit for the atonement to take place. Consequently, Yisrael, who were guilty of idolatry, had to Shecht their Korban before this could occur, whereas Aharon, who was not, had merely to take his Korban and come before G-d to achieve it.


It is strange, comments the K'li Yakar, that instead of then instructing Yisrael directly which Korbanos they had to bring, he ordered Aharon to do so?

The Or ha'Chayim asks the same question, and he suggests (in his first answer) that since Aharon had sinned in speech (by announcing that whoever has gold should bring it to him for what turned out to be the construction of the Golden Calf), he needed to atone for this by now instructing the same people to bring Korbanos for the sake of G-d.

The K'li Yakar himself however, explains that Moshe did this in order to convince Yisrael of Aharon's innocence regarding the sin of the Golden Calf. It would be obvious to Yisrael, that had he been guilty of such a grave sin, he would never have been given the task of instructing them to take a calf to atone for that very same one. For they would have been able to point a finger at him and accuse him of not practicing what he preached.

Or perhaps, he adds, that was precisely why Aharon first had to bring his own Korbanos, in order to first put his own house in order (to the degree that he had participated in the sin), before instructing Yisrael to clean up theirs. (to be continued ...)

* * *

Parshah Pearls

A Dual Atonement

"And bring your Sin-offering and atone for yourself and on behalf of the people" (9:7).

Aharon was being asked to atone, not only for his own participation in the Golden Calf (hence the calf, see main article), says the Meshech Chochmah, but also for the sin of Yisrael's having caused him to sin. This explains why the Torah mentions the two 'in one breath'.


The Nails and the Stomach

"And the camel, because although it brings up its cud, its hooves are not split" (11:4).

The Gemara in Yuma (9b) states that the early ones (those who lived in the era of the first Beis Hamikdash), whose sin was revealed, their end was revealed, too; whereas the latter ones (who lived in the era of the second Beis Hamikdash), whose sin was not revealed, their end was not revealed either.

And R. Yochanan there concludes 'The nails of the first ones were better than the stomach of the latter ones'. To explain the significance of R. Yochanan's statement, the P'ninim mi'Shulchan ha'G'ro cites a Medrash Rabah. The Medrash Rabah explains that the hare, the camel and the rabbit (mentioned in the Parshah), represent the first three nations to 'exile' Yisrael (Bavel, Medes and Greece), respectively, whereas the Chazir represents Edom, the fourth and last nation to do so.

The Gemara there (in Yuma) adds that in the time of the first Beis Hamikdash, when they were guilty of idolatry, adultery and murder, their exodus from Galus was revealed, because their sin was revealed; whereas in the time of the second Beis Hamikdash, when they sinned with regard to Sin'as Chinam (baseless hatred), their exodus, like their sin, was concealed. With this Gemara, we can understand why R. Yochanan referred above to the nails of the first ones, and the stomach of the latter ones. It is well-known that the mark of Tum'ah (that renders them non-Kasher) of the first three animals is their lack of cloven hooves, an external one, whilst that of the Chazir is the fact that it does not chew its cud (which is internal). And that is why the Gemara concludes 'The nails of the first ones were better than the stomach of the latter ones', 'the nails' with reference to the un-cloven hooves of the hare, the camel and the rabbit; and the 'stomach', to the eating habits of the Chazir.


The Racham and the Rachamah

"And the swan, the pelican and the magpie (ve'es ha'Racham)" (11:18).

In Parshas Re'ei (14:17), the Pasuk refers to the same bird as 'Rachamah'.

The Gemara in Chulin (63a) comments that it is called by this name because when the Racham comes, Rachamim (mercy, which, according to Rashi, is synonymous with rain) comes to the world'. When it sits on something and makes a sound that sounds like 'Sh'rakrak' (which is how Unklus translates "Racham"), rain follows. But were it to sit directly on the ground, then it would herald the coming of Mashi'ach.

Before we cite the G'ro's interpretation of this Gemara, it is worth noting that the link between rain and Techi'as ha'Meisim already occurs in the Amidah, where the mention of rain is inserted in the B'rachah of Techi'as ha'Meisim. The P'ninim mi'Shulchan ha'G'ro explains the above Gemara like this: It is well-known he says, that there are two kinds of (national) birth; there is a birth in heaven and a birth on earth. The former refers to rain (as the Navi writes in Yeshayah [55:10]); the latter, to Techiyas ha'Meisim (see for example, Ibid. 48:8).

Now, if the Rachamah sits on something that is above the earth, it is predicting a birth that will take place in Heaven, namely, rain; whereas if it actually sits on the ground, then it is heralding the birth that will take place from the earth, during Techiyas ha'Meisim, at the end of time.

And now we can also understand why the Torah here presents "Racham" without a 'Hey', and in Re'ei, with one. We know that a woman has five limbs more than the two hundred and forty-eight of a man, and that explains the extra 'Hey' in "Rachamah" in 'Re'ei', with reference to Techiyas ha'Meisim, which is written in a number of Pesukim in the feminine (for example, in Yeshayah 60:4, where it writes "because Tziyon became sick, and she also gave birth to her children").

With regard to rain, on the other hand, Chazal tend to use the masculine form, like we find in Ta'anis (6b), where the Gemara refers to the rain as 'the master' ('Ba'alah', which can also mean 'husband'). Hence the word 'Racham' is used - without the 'Hey'.


Declaring a Sheretz Tahor!

"And any Sheretz (rodent) that crawls on the ground is abominable (incorporating a Tum'ah-status), it shall not be eaten" (11:41).

The Gemara in Eiruvin cites an experienced Talmid from Yavneh, who knew of a hundred and fifty reasons to declare a Sheretz, Tahor.

In an apparent attempt to go in his footsteps, Ravina stood up and argued that if a snake, which kills and brings Tum'ah to the world, is itself Tahor, then surely a Sheretz, which does not, should be Tahor!


Firsly, asks the G'ro, what is Ravina trying to achieve, by citing one proof for being Metaher a Sheretz, when the Talmid claimed that he had a hundred and fifty? Secondly, why does the Gemara not bother to even teach us one of the Talmid's proofs, and thirdly, based on the principle that 'there is nothing that is not hinted in the Torah', where is the concept of a Tahor Sheretz hinted?


The G'ro therefore interprets the above Gemara as a riddle, which is connected to the Neginos (also known as 'Ta'amim, but which can also mean 'reasons') of a Pasuk in Terumah (27:18), which gives the length of the Chatzer of the Mishkan as "a hundred Amos (Me'ah Amah)", and the width as "fifty by fifty (Chamishim be'Chamishim)" (see Rashi there). Now the Neginos on the words "a hundred Amos" are 'Kadmo ve'Azlo', and on "fifty by fifty", 'Munach Revi'i'. All this hints at the original snake, which initially walked on four legs, and came and went ('Kadmo ve'Azlo') with alacrity, in its capacity as the wisest and the fastest-moving of all the animals. But after the curse, it was made to crawl on the ground (like a rodent - as hinted in the Neginos 'Munach Revi'i', as in the Pasuk in Tehilim "Orchi ve'Riv'i" [139:3]).

This in turn, is based on the Arizal, who writes that before the establishment of the Mishkan, the sin of Adam ha'Rishon was synonymous with the filth of the Snake (which it implanted in Chavah). In the language of Kabalah, this is referred to as 'Kadmo ve'Azlo', whereas after the Mishkan was established it became known as 'Munach Revi'i'.

That is why, explains the P'ninim mi'Shulchan ha'G'ro, the Neginos on the above words are 'Kadmo ve'Azlo' and 'Munach Revi'i' respectively.

Now we can understand the Gemara in Eiruvin with which we began. When that experienced Talmid claimed that he knew of a hundred and fifty reasons to declare a Sheretz, Tahor, he was referring to the snake, which is hinted in the above pair of 'Ta'amim' and from which we ought to learn all other Sheratzim with a Kal va'Chomer. And it is this single Kal va'Chomer that Ravina is coming to reveal.


A Means to an End

"And you shall make yourselves holy, and you will be holy" (11:44).

The Gemara in Pesachim (49b) teaches us that one should, if necessary, perform Mitzvos not for the right motive ('shelo li'Shmo'), because eventually, it will lead a person to perform them for the right one.

That is perhaps what the Pasuk means here, says the Sha'ar bas Rabim. 'Make yourselves holy (do things that a holy person does, even if you are not quite up to it), because in the end, you will become genuinely holy'.

* * *

(Adapted from the Seifer ha'Chinuch)

Please bear in mind that the rulings in this article reflect the opinion of the Seifer ha'Chinuch and are not necessarily Halachah.

Mitzvah 58:
To Judge the Laws Pertaining to a Claimant and a Defendant

It is a Mitzvah for the Beis-Din to take up the case of anyone who lays a claim against his fellow-Jew in any particular matter - whether he claims that he lent him money or deposited something by him, or that the latter stole from him, robbed him or withheld from him his wages, as the Torah writes in Mishpatim (22:8) "re. any matter of guilt, re. an ox, a donkey or a lamb ... regarding anything that he claims 'This is it' ('Ki Hu Zeh') the words of the two litigants shall come before the judge (and the defendant shall take an oath)" In fact, this Pasuk incorporates the entire spectrum of monetary claims between two fellow Jews, with regard to admissions and denials. Chazal interpret "Ki Hu Zeh" to mean that the defendant admits to part of the claim. This teaches us that min ha'Torah, the defendant only swears if he admits to part of the claim, but not if he claims 'Lo Hadam' (which is the acronym for 'Lo Hoyu Devorim Me'olom' (meaning that he totally denies the claim), or if he admits to there having been a loan (or that the object was given to him as a deposit) but that he returned it. And when Chazal say in Bava Kama (107a) that "Ki Hu Zeh" applies specifically to loans, they are not coming to preclude a deposit etc., but to claims that do not fall under the category of 'Ta'anas Milveh' (e.g. 'I have paid' or 'Lo Hadam'), such as a Shomer who claims that an O'nes occurred or that the article was stolen (claims that do not apply to loans). In cases such as these, he is obligated to take an oath even if he denies the entire claim.

The reason for the Mitzvah is self-understood.

The Dinim of he Mitzvah ... A defendant who admits to part of the claim is obligated to make a Shevu'ah (to swear) min ha'Torah, provided he admits to at least a P'rutah and denies at least two silver Ma'ah (1 Ma'ah = 6 P'rutos). A denial amounting to less than this, does not obligate a Shevu'ah, unless that is, there is one witness testifying against him, in which case, one is Chayav to swear over any denial of more than a P'rutah, even if there is no admission at all. This is the Din pertaining to monetary claims. But if the claimant claims Keilim (articles), then the defendant is obligated to swear, even if the latter claims two needles, and he admits to one ... What will be the Din if the claims are regarding something which has a specific measurement, such as weight ... Or of someone who denies the entire claim ... The confession must be of the same species as the claim ... And what if the defendant admits to the claim ... The Din of the four guards (Shomer Chinam, Shomer Sochor, Socher and Sho'el) ... and the procedure of someone who is obligated to make a Sh'vu'ah min ha'Torah or mi'de'Rabbanan ... When the defendant swears and becomes exempt from paying, and when the claimant swears and takes (which is rare) ... The Din of someone who is suspected of swearing falsely, when one switches the Shevu'ah from the defendant to the claimant ... Which kind of sin renders the defendant a suspect and which kind of Teshuvah removes the stigma ... If someone gains money through a Shevu'ah, and later witnesses testify that he was in fact suspected of swearing falsely and ought not to have sworn, he must return the money ... What happens in a case where the person who swears is unable to swear ... the Dinim of 'Migu' (when the defendant ought to be believed because he could have presented a more solid argument had he wanted to lie), and the Dinim of 'Bori ve'Shema' (where one of the litigants is certain but the other one is not) ... The Din of 'Gilgul Shevu'ah' (whereby the claimant can force the defendant, who is already swearing, to swear on another claim, on which he would not normally have had to swear) ... and the remaining numerous details, are to be found in Bava Kama (mainly in the 3rd Perek) and in Bava Metzi'a (mainly in the 1st Perek), in the 8th Perek of Bava Basra and in the 57th chapters of Shevu'os, as well as in many other places in Shas (see Choshen Mishpat 40:89-94). I omitted many of the other samples of Halachah cited by the author.

The Mitzvah of the obligation to judge applies to men but not to women. Women are however, subject to the Dinim of payment and to all the relevant Dinim connected with it, only there are certain differences with regard to the claims of married women. These Dinim apply everywhere at all times. A Beis-Din which has the authority to enforce the law but which fails to do so, has contravened a Mitzvas Asei, and will be heavily punished, due to the disastrous effect of lawlessness, because the world can only exist when there is law and order. Indeed, Chazal say in Pirkei Avos (1:18) that the world stands on three things, one of them is justice. In fact, Din is one of the Mitzvos which was given to the world at large (and not only to K'lal Yisrael), since the world cannot exist without it.

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