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

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Vol. 7   No. 24

Parshas Tzav

Reflections on Parshas Poroh
Adapted mainly from the Yalkut Yitzchok

Seven Times Seven

Rav Chonon bar Bibi in a Medrash points out that the parshah of Poroh Adumoh contains a sequence of seven times seven.

The word 'Poroh" occurs 7 times, 7 sprinklings, 7 times the washing of clothes, 7 temei'im and 7 tehorim, and 7 times Kohen (including Moshe and Aharon).

This is based on the seven levels of Tum'ah: Avi avos; av; rishon; sheini (in Chulin); sh'lishi (in T'rumah); and revi'i (in Kodesh), and the seventh, that of the Eigel ha'Zohov, which incorporates all the tum'os - because, had they not sinned by the Eigel, the Mal'ach ha'Moves would have ceased to function, and there would have been no more tum'as meis. (Presumably, that is why Chazal introduced a seventh level - a chamishi le'tum'ah - by the Poroh Adumah.) And the Torah makes a point of inserting the seven times seven sequence, which we just described - in order to atone for the sin of the Eigel ha'Zohov, the embodiment of the sevenfold tum'oh - Sifsei Chachomim.


The previous explanation only seems to contain 6 x 7, and not 7 x 7. This is how the Rokei'ach lists them: 7 cows, 7 times sprinkling is mentioned, 7 Kohanim, 7 Tehorim, 7 Temei'im, 7 days that the Kohen who burned it separated prior to its burning (like on Yom Kipur), 7 sprinklings from the ashes of the 7 cows that were burned.


The Four Kingdoms
"Poroh Adumoh" represents Bovel (Babylon), "Temimah", Modai (Medes), "Ein boh mum", Yovon (Greece), and "Lo oloh oleho ol", Edom (Rome) - Yalkut Re'uveini.

Rabeinu Bachye, citing the P'sikta, differs only inasmuch as in his opinion, "Poroh" refers to Mitzrayim (Egypt), as it is written in Yirmiyoh (46:20) "Mitzrayim is a beautiful calf". "Adumah" refers to Bovel, as it is written in Daniel (2:35) "You are the head of gold (which is a reddish colour); "Temimah" to Modai, because, as Rebbi Chiya bar Aba said, the Kings of Modai were blemishless; the only criticism G-d had against them was the idols that they served, not out of conviction, but due to tradition.

"Which has no blemish" refers to Yovon - Alexander Mokdon - who bowed down to Shimon ha'Tzadik. "Which did not have a yoke placed on it" refers to Edom, which did not accept the yoke of G-d, and even blasphemed and insulted Him, as it is written "Who is for Me in heaven?" (Tehilim 73:25).

"And you shall give it to El'ozor ha'Kohen and he shall take it outside the camp ... " - because he is going to push away the Angel of Edom from his vicinity.

"And he shall shecht it before him" as the posuk writes in Yeshayah (34:6) "Because there will be a slaughter for Hashem in Botzroh ... ".


The Statute of the Cow

The Seifer ha'Chinuch cites the Medrash Tanchuma, who points out that, if Sh'lomoh ha'Melech was stumped for an explanation of why the Poroh Adumoh can render tohor those who are tomei, whilst at the same time, make tomei those who are tohor, Moshe Rabeinu was not. He, and he alone, knew the answer.

He also adds another dimension to the mystery of the Poroh Adumoh when he explains the fact that, unlike all other korbonos, it was shechted and prepared on Har ha'Zeisim, outside the Beis ha'Mikdosh. Not that the Poroh Adumoh was a sacrifice, but it had many of the trappings of one, even to the point that the Torah refers to it as a Chatos (a sin-offering) and that it became invalidated through a blemish. It certainly resembled a sacrifice sufficiently for the nations of the world to mock Yisroel and to accuse them of offering their sacrifices to the demons of the field (as was commonly practised by the gentiles of that time).


And the Tenth is Holy

The Mishnah writes in Poroh (3:5) that all in all, there have been nine Poros: one was prepared by Moshe and one by Ezra, and from the time of Ezra there were seven. These were prepared by: Shimon ha'Tzadik and Yochonon Kohen Godol (who prepared two each); Eliyohu Eini ben ha'Kof; Chananel ha'Mitzri and Yishmoel ben Fiani (perhaps he is alias Yishmoel ben Fiabi). It is remarkable that for the entire period of the second Beis-Hamikdosh, only eight cows were required to purify all people and all objects that became tomei meis (an average of one cow per fifty years - demonstrating how careful the people must have been in guarding themselves against Tum'as Meis. But that is nothing compared to the first Beis Hamikdosh, where one cow lasted over nine hundred years. That is truly incredible!

The tenth cow will be prepared by none other than Moshi'ach himself.



(Adapted from the No'am ha'Mitzvos and R. Bachye quoting the Rambam)

It is a mitzvah to prepare the Poroh Adumoh. This was performed by an ordinary Kohen wearing the four priestly garments. He would take a cow that was entirely red (two black or white hairs would invalidate it), that was three years old or more, a cow that was without blemish and that had not been workd with. And he would go with it up to Har ha'Mishchoh (Har ha'Zeisim) on the east-side of Yerusholayim. A pile of wood had been prepared there, and it was on top of it that he now placed the bound cow.


The Kohen shechted it with his right hand and received the blood with his left. Then, dipping his right forefinger into the blood in his left hand, he sprinkled it seven times in the direction of the Kodesh Kodshim. Each time he sprinkled, he would wipe his finger clean on the body of the cow, before dipping it into the blood once more.

He would then set fire to the pile of wood. When most of the cow had burnt and its stomach had split open, he would take a piece of cedar-wood and a twig of hyssop, tie them with a scarlet thread and toss it into the burning stomach of the cow. But before doing so, he would hold up the cedar twig, the hyssop and the scarlet thread, one after the other, and ask 'Is this an eitz erez?' 'Is this an eizov?' 'Is this a Sh'ni tola'as?', three times for each item, to ascertain that the correct species was being used (since there were many varieties of each of them).


Once the cow was completely burnt, those present would beat the ashes with sticks until it was transformed into tiny fragments. They would then sift it and any black pieces that they found, would be broken up again. The ashes were then gathered into one spot, and were divided into three parts: one part was placed in the charge of the Kohanim (to sanctify subsequent Poros Adumos with it); one part on Har ha' Mishchoh (for the use of people who were tomei meis and who required purification); and one part was placed in the Chil (the outer section of the Beis ha'Mikdosh - as a keepsake).

A Kohen who was a t'vul tom (a tomei person who had toveled in a mikvah, and who was waiting for nightfall to be able to eat Terumah) was eligible to burn the Poroh Adumoh. The various tasks could be performed by different Kohanim, if they so wished. All those who dealt with the cow from the time it was shechted until it became ashes, were tomei, with the exception of the one who mixed the ashes with the water and the one who sprinkled them.


Parshah Pearls


"This is the Law"

"Command Aharon and his sons saying 'This is the law of the oloh' " (6:2).

The expression "This is the law ... " ("Zos Toras ... ") mentioned in connection with all the Korbonos, is indicative of additional (secondary) laws that the Torah is about to add to the major ones that it already discussed earlier. Like we find in the posuk "This is the law of the Metzora" (Vayikro 14:2), following the main laws of the Metzora that the Torah discussed already in Tazri'a.

Here too, the Torah discussed the major halochos of the Korbonos in Vayikro, and is merely adding here the laws of eating the Kodshim, and, in the case of the Oloh, the time when it should be burnt on the Mizbei'ach (Peninim mi'Shulchan ha'Gro).


The Vanishing Trick

The very first avodah performed by the Kohanim was the 'T'rumas ha'Deshen', the removal of one shovelful of ashes from the burnt ashes on the ma'arochoh on the Mizbei'ach, as the Torah describes in the opening pesukim of the parshah. These ashes were placed at a specific spot on the east side of the ramp known as the 'Beis ha'Deshen'.

Rashi, in Vayikro (1:16), commenting on the posuk dealing with the crop of the Olas ho'of, which was also tossed there, refers to 'the location where they placed the T'rumas ha'Deshen each morning, as well as the ashes from the inner (golden) Mizbei'ach and of the Menorah'. 'And all of them,' he adds, 'were absorbed in their places' - in other words, they miraculously disappeared.

The Ba'al ha'Turim here, supplies a hint for this: In the phrase "ve'somo eitzel ha'Mizbei'ach" ("and he shall place it beside the Mizbei'ach"), "ve'somo", as he points out, has the same numerical value as 've'nivla bi'm'komo' (and it was absorbed in its place).


The Five Ashomos

"And this is the law of the Oshom" (7:1). Five times, says the Ba'al ha'Turim, the word "Oshom occurs in this parshah, corresponding to the five types of definite Ashomos: Asham Gezeilos (that one brings after having stolen and sworn falsely); Asham Me'ilos (after having benefitted - inadvertently - from Hekdesh); Asham Shifchah Chanifah (afer having had relations with a half-free slave girl who is betrothed to a Jewish servant); an Asham Nozir; and an Asham Metzora.


In All Directions

The fat pieces of the Sh'lomim had to be waved. They were placed in the hands of the owner together with the chest. The Kohen then placed his hands underneath those of the owner and together they waved it.

They waved it (like a lulav) in all four directions, up and down. This is hinted in the words "le'honif oso" (to wave it), which has the same numerical value as 'molich, u'meivi', u'ma'aleh, u'morid" - Ba'al ha'Turim.

That is why, he adds, the word "Tenufah" occurs three times in the parshah, one of them with a 'hey' in front (ha'tenufoh), adding one (like the 'hey' in "eileh ha'd'vorim" in Vayakhel that added one, to hint at the thirty-nine melochos on Shabbos), hinting at the four directions. And the word "terumoh" twice, hinting at once up and once down.


"Toras ha'Korbonos"

Five times, the Torah writes "Zos Toras ... " ("This is the law') - with regard to the Oloh. the Minchah, the Chatos, the Oshom and the Sh'lomim. This hints, writes the Kli Yokor, to the five books of the Torah. How is that?

Someone who studies the book of Bereishis, is considered as if he had brought an Oloh, he explains, because Hevel brought an Oloh, and so did No'ach, Avrohom and Ya'akov - all in Bereishis.

If someone studies the book of Sh'mos, it is as if he had brought a Minchah, seeing as Chazal have said "All the Menochos were brought in the form of Matzah", and all the dinim of Matzah are discussed in Sh'mos.

Someone who studies the book of Vayikra is considered as if he had brought a Chatos, because, although all the Korbonos are mentioned there, the most important Korban following the sin of the Eigel ha'Zohov, was the Chatos.

If someone studies the book of Bamidbor, it is as if he had brought an Oshom, since some of the Dinim of the Oshom are repeated in Bamidbor (5:6-8).

Someone who studies Devorim, it is as if he had brought a Sh'lomim, which is mentioned there in a number of places (12:27 and 27:7).


Consequently, someone who studies the entire Torah is considered as if he had brought all the Korbonos.



Part IV
The Voluntary Offerings

The Olas ho'Of
(the Burnt-offering of a bird)

23. A Bird-offering

A bird-offering consisted of either a turtle-dove or a young pigeon, male or female, even a blemished one, provided it had no missing limbs. It could only be brought as an oloh, but not as a sh'lomim.

Once the feathers begin to glisten in a pigeon, it is not considered young, and can no longer be brought. The same stage in a turtle-dove is considered premature, and cannot be used.

24. How It Is Sacrificed

The Kohen took the bird up to the top of the Mizbei'ach, to the south-eastern corner, where he performed melikah - the very difficult method of slaughtering that applied exclusively to bird-offerings. Holding it tightly in his right-hand, he would nip through its two pipes via the back of the neck with his long thumbnail, completely severing its head. Then he would squeeze its blood on the wall of the Mizbei'ach and remove its crop and its stomach (which he would throw - from the south-eastern corner of the Mizbei'ach - to the Beis ha'Deshen on the east side of the ramp. Finally, he would split the bird (without dividing it into two) and burn it entirely on the Mizbei'ach.

The Minchoh

25. What Constitutes a Minchas Nedovoh?

Five out of the nine Minchos Yochid listed by the Sefer ha'Chinuch are Minchos Nedovoh. 1. A Minchas So'les (which is not baked - until later); 2) A Minchas Machavas (baked in a frying-pan); 3. A Minchas Marcheshes (baked in a deep pot); 4. A Minchas Ma'afeh Tanur (baked in the oven) in the form of challes; 5. A Minchas Ma'afeh Tanur (baked in the form of wafers).


26. What Each Minchah Comprised

Every Minchas Nedovoh comprised at least one Isoron (a tenth of an eifoh - 43.2 egg-volumes) of fine flour. Each Isoron required one lug (6 egg-volumes) of olive oil and each Minchoh required one fistful of frankincense.


27. How the Minchah was Prepared

The owner would bring the flour from his house in a basket of gold, silver or of another metal, and he would then measure it, using the Isoron measure of the Beis ha'Mikdosh. From each Isoron he would bake ten small challes.


28. The Minchas So'les

The owner would place some of the oil into a receptacle, add the flour and mix them. Then he would place the Minchah into a K'li Shoreis (a holy vessel) and add the rest of the oil.


29. The Minchas Machavas and Marcheshes

The owner would place some of the oil into a receptacle and add the flour. Then he would add more of the oil and mix them, knead the dough with warm water and bake it in the appropriate vessel. He would then break it into pieces, place it in a K'li Shoreis, pour on the remainder of the oil and add the frankincense.


The deep pot had a rim to prevent the dough (which was soft) from overflowing, whereas the frying-pan had no rim, because the dough that was baked in it was hard.


30. The Minchas Ma'afeh Tanur

If he had undertaken to bring challes, he would mix the flour with all the oil and knead it with warm water, bake it, break it into small pieces. Then he would place it into a K'li Shoreis and add the frankincense.

If he had undertaken to bring wafers, he would first knead the flour with warm water. Then, after baking them as wafers in the oven, he would proceed to anoint them with the 'log' of oil, over and over again, until all the oil had been used.


31. The Avodas ha'Minchoh

The owner would then give the Minchah to the Kohen, who would take it in the K'li Shoreis to the south-western corner of the Mizbei'ach.

The Kohen would move all the frankincense to one side, take a k'mitzah (fistful) with his right-hand (all avodos had to be performed with the right-hand), and place it in a K'li Shoreis.

The Kometz was burnt on the Mizbei'ach together with all the frankincense, whilst the remainder of the Minchah was shared among all male Kohanim, even those with a blemish, who had to eat it as matzos, in the Azoroh.

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