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

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Vol. 6 No. 24

Parshas Tzav-Hagadol

Familiarity Breeds Contempt
(Based on R. Bachye's introduction to the parshah)


"Hold back your feet from your friend's house, lest he becomes sick of you, and gets to hate you" (Mishlei 25:17).

Shlomoh is teaching us here ethics and social behaviour - that one should make every effort to acquire friends and work on retaining their friendship. To that end, one sometimes needs to visit them at home; it should not however, become an ongoing practice, because this is one of the areas where the middle path (rather than the extreme one) is the ideal path to tread.

There is much to be gained in the company of friends. It increases their love for one another, strengthens the bond between them and helps to establish peace. And this is why elsewhere, Shlomoh praises the concept of having many friends and adds that there are times when a close friend is dearer than a brother.


Because to have many friends one must have two qualities: one is humility - since people tend to run away from someone who is conceited; and the other, not to be afraid of people. In this way, one is saved from two pitfalls which result from poverty and wealth, as it is written "The poor man speaks in pleading tones, and the rich man answers arrogantly" (Mishlei 18:23). For one of the great disadvantages of poverty is that the poor man becomes afraid of the rich one (resulting in turn, in the need to flatter him), whereas the wealthy man has the disadvantage of becoming conceited, an all too common symbol of wealth.


Shlomoh is denigrating both poverty and wealth, which is why in another possuk in Mishlei (30:8), he pleads with Hashem not to give him wealth ("lest I become satisfied and deny") or poverty ("lest I steal").

And the wise man said that too much wealth is harmful to the soul, like too much blood is to the body (perhaps that is why money is translated as 'damim'). Now we understand what Shlomoh meant when, after saying "The poor man speaks in pleading tones, and the rich man answers arrogantly", he adds "a man who has many friends is praiseworthy" - because a man with many friends is spared from being afraid of others (since his friends will always support him), and from conceit, with which he would not have been able to acquire those friends in the first place.

And that is why such a person deserves much praise - because he has all the advantages of poverty and wealth, without the disadvantages.


However, Shlomoh warns us here that as valuable as the company of friends is, and in spite of all its advantages, one is well-advised to turn visiting one's friend into a rare occasion, to make a point of avoiding going there often, because a little of this is good, a lot, damaging. And that is because he becomes a burden, and familiarity breeds contempt. It can be compared to eating honey - a little is good, but a lot, harmful, which is why in the previous possuk Shlomoh ha'Melech wrote "If you found honey, eat and let it suffice, lest you become satisfied and vomit it".


And so it is regarding all matters; when they are done in excess, they lose their advantage. Take for example, rain: Rain gives life to the world, yet too much rain is harmful.

"Hold back your feet from your friend's house" Shlomoh wrote, not just from the house of a friend, a fellow-Jew, but even from the house of your friend, of one with whom you are particularly close and whom you love, you should take great care not to frequent it at times when you may not be welcome - when he is eating, sleeping, or busy with other occupations which might require privacy. And he gives a good reason for this: "lest he becomes sick of you", because that is what will happen if you make a point of visiting him during these hours, until eventually, hatred will replace the love that he originally felt for you - in the same way as the Novi relates how the hatred that Amnon bore Tomor was now greater than the love that he had previously felt for her.


The Medrash however, explains the possuk in Mishlei in a different light. The Medrash, basing itself on the possuk in Tehillim where Hashem, referring to his people Yisroel "for the sake of My brothers and friends", interprets the possuk "Hold back your feet from your friend's house" as the Beis ha'Mikdosh. And it goes on to reconcile this possuk with the possuk in Tehillim "I will come to your house with burnt-offerings" by establishing the latter possuk by burnt and peace-offerings, and the former by sin and guilt-offerings. It is better by far not to sin, and not to have to frequent the Beis ha'Mikdosh with one's sin and guilt-offerings, since this will achieve the result of making G-d angry, as the possuk writes "the sacrifice of the rosho is an abomination" (Mishlei 21:27). But to come with burnt and peace-offerings, that is a different matter. It is true that the burnt-offering too, comes for sinful thoughts. Nevertheless, sinful thoughts are extremely difficult to avoid, as opposed to the acts of sin for which one brings a sin-offering, and for which one is held fully responsible.

And because sinful thoughts occur more commonly by night, the Torah fixed the time to burn the burnt-offering by night, as the Torah explains in the opening possuk of this week's parshah, so that the time of the atonement coincides with the time of the sin.


(Part II)

8. Part for Hashem

Since the purpose of sacrifices was to give something to Hashem (either in the form of a gift or as an atonement), at least a part of every sacrifice (with few specified exceptions) had to be placed on the Mizbach ho'Oloh (the large copper altar) that was in the Ezras Kohanim (the inner-section of the main courtyard): the chalovim, as they were called, comprised the layer of fat covering the stomachs, and all the other fat attached to the stomachs; the two kidneys together with the fat on them along the flanks, and the lobe of the liver, and, in the case of a lamb, the fat-tail.

This does not apply to a burnt-offering, all of which was burned.

9. Part for the Kohanim

Part of virtually all korbonos went to the Kohanim, even of the Oloh, of which they received the skin. Other sacrifices that they received were given to them, not as gifts, but as if they were guests at Hashem's table - which explains why they had to be eaten by male Kohanim in the Azoroh. The exception to this was the chest and the right calf of the peace-offering, which was a prescribed gift from the owner, and could be taken home and shared with their families.

10. Part for the Owner

After giving the prescribed fat-pieces of his peace-offering (incorporating the thanks-offering and Ma'aser Beheimah) to Hashem, and the chest and the right calf to the Kohen, the owner would receive the rest of the animal, which he could eat together with family and friends anywhere in Yerusholayim. This did not apply to any of the other sacrifices, which belonged to the category of Kodshei Kodshim (very holy sacrifices), of which the owner received nothing. (Note - the Bechor and the Pesach too, were Sh'lomim. However, the chest and right calf were not given to the Kohen - the former because the entire korban belonged to the Kohen; the latter, because it had to be roasted whole and eaten by the owner.)

11. The Time Period for Eating

As a rule, Kodshei Kodshim could be eaten for the remainder of the day and the following night, (note: by Kodshim, the night follows the day) and Kodshim Kalim for a second day - until the following night. The two exceptions to this rule were the thanks-offering which, although a form of peace-offering, had to be eaten by the end of the first night, and the Pesach (which we discussed in detail last year).

12. Left-Overs

Any part of the above that had not been eaten within the prescribed time was called 'Nosar' (left-over), and had to be burnt within its confines - not on the Mizbei'ach. The same applied to any of the fat pieces that were not on the Mizbei'ach when dawn broke.

13. The Voluntary Offerings

There are three kinds of voluntary offerings: an oloh (a burnt-offering); a shelamim (a peace-offering); and a minchah (a flour-offering) - owhich there are five different kinds: a minchas-so'les (consisting of unbaked fine flour); a minchas machavas (pre-fried in a frying pan); a minchas marcheshes (pre-cooked in a deep pot); a minchas ma'afeh-tanur (pre-baked in an oven) either as challes (breads), or as rekikin (wafers).

14. No Birds

There is no such thing as a voluntary bird-offering. Young pigeons or mature doves could be brought as sin or as burnt-offerings, both in prescribed cases, usually after specific sins, but never voluntarily.

15. A Voluntary Burnt-Offering

A voluntary burnt-offering could be brought by anyone, even a gentile. Although it atoned for impure thoughts, for a mitzvas asei (that one did not perform) or for a la'av hanitak la'asei, it was nevertheless purely voluntary.
A burnt-offering had to be a male, of any of the three kinds of domestic animals (a bull, goat or sheep).

16. The blood of a burnt-offering was sprinkled once, directly from the bowl, onto the lower half of the Mizbe'ach, by the north-eastern and south-western corners respectively. The remainder of the blood in the bowl was poured onto the southern 'yesod' (which consisted of only one amah).

17. The body of the oloh required skinning and cutting up into limbs, and its inwards washed, before the entire animal was burnt on the Mizbe'ach.


Adapted from the Kitzur Shulchan Oruch Si'man 113 and the Misgeres ha'Shulchan

1. Davening on Erev Pesach

One does not say 'Mizmor le'Todoh' or 'Lamnatzei'ach' on erev Pesach.

2. Eating Chometz

One may eat Chometz up to the end of four seasonal hours (i.e. a third of the day from dawn-break until the stars come out), which this year, is at 9:07 in Yerusholayim. One may however, derive benefit from the chometz or sell it for another hour (until 10:25). If he forgot to sell it, he may still do so, provided slightly more than a regular hour remains until midday - though some poskim permit this leniency only if it is to spare oneself a big monetary loss. From then on, it is forbidden to derive any benefit whatsoever from the chometz.
The burning of the chometz and its nullification must be done whilst the chometz is still permitted.

3. Work

From midday and onwards, it is forbidden to perform any work other than what is permitted on Chol ha'Mo'ed. (One may however, repair old utensils that are slightly broken or stitch clothes that are slightly torn, in order to use them on Yom-tov. This is permitted even if it is for the use of someone else, provided one does it free of charge. It is however customary to permit work through a gentile. In some places, it is the custom to forbid work all day.
Even where the minhag is to permit work in the morning, one is not permitted to begin a new task, except for tailors, barbers and launderers, who may begin a job that is needed for Yom-tov, before midday, because their services are so commonly required.

4. A Haircut and Cutting Nails

One should have a haircut and cut one's nails before midday. If one forgot, the latter is permitted even in the afternoon, the former however, is forbidden - unless through the services of a gentile barber.

5. Eating Matzah

It is forbidden to eat matzah all day (others begin this custom already from Rosh Chodesh Nisan).
Even small children (who understand the concept of the exodus from Egypt) should not be given matzah.
Cooked dishes made from ground matzah are permitted, up to the beginning of the tenth hour (i.e. until the last quarter of the day), after which one may eat only a little fruit, meat or fish, if necessary (the other poskim do not restrict the amounts that one may eat, though they admit that one should take due care not to fill one's stomach, in order to retain one's appetite for the Seder).
Neither should one drink small quantities of wine, because that satisfies like bread. A lot of wine however, is permitted, as that has the effect of stimulating one's appetite, provided one does not drink until he is full.

6. Fast of the First-Born

The first-born sons, whether from the father or from the mother, must fast on erev Pesach, even if it falls on Friday. And that also includes the first-born son after a still-born baby (see Dogul Mer'vovoh). As long as the son is small (beginning from the age of one month - M.B.), the father fasts instead of him. Whether or not one may eat at a "se'udas mitzvah" (a feast in honour of a mitzvah, e.g. a Siyum on completing a Gemoro) depends upon local custom. (It is usually permitted.)

7. Saying 'Aneinu' at Minchah

A first-born who fasts says 'Aneinu' at Minchah. If there are many first-born who are davening with a minyan, they must take care that none of them act as 'Shatz', since that would oblige them to insert 'Aneinu'", and the Shatz does not say 'Aneinu' during the month of Nissan. (In the event that one of the fasters did act as Shatz, he says 'Aneinu' - M.B.)

8. Baking the Matzos after Midday

Those who are "mehadrin' (meticulous in their performance of mitzvos) bake the matzos of mitzvah on erev Pesach after midday - the time that the Korban Pesach is due. However, since that is already after the time that chometz is prohibited, it is better to specifically nullify all the crumbs (before they become chometz) and say: "I hereby nullify all the crumbs that fall during the kneading and the preparing of the dough, as well as the dough that will stick to the utensils, and make them hefker". (It is a good idea to tread them into dust before they become chometz - M.B.)

9. What to do with the Water Used for Washing the Utensils

As for the water used to wash the utensils, that should be poured on to a slope, but one that is not on a stone floor, so that the water should become quickly absorbed into the ground. This is to avoid the water gathering in one spot, and becoming chometz before it soaks into the ground, with the result that he will have had chometz in his possession (after the time that is is prohibited). (If he pours the water into the public street, or into his garden, before the chometz becomes forbidden, the commentaries argue as to whether these stringencies apply - M.B.)


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