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

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Vol. 9   No. 24

This issue is sponsored l'iluy Nishmas
Dov ben Tuvia z"l
by the Glassman Family
Jerusalem - Efrat - Johannesburg - Edenvale

Parshas Tzav
(Shabbos ha'Gadol)

Shabbos Ha'Gadol
(adapted from the B'nei Yisaschar)

The B'nei Yisaschar offers the following three reasons (among many others) to explain why the Shabbos before Pesach is called 'Shabbos Hagadol'.

The first, which he cites in the name of the Olelos Ephrayim, is based on the well-known principle stated by the Gemara in Kidushin (31a) 'Gadol ha'metzuveh ve'oseh ... (Someone who performs a Mitzvah when he is commanded to, is greater than someone who volunteers to perform a good deed when he is not).

The Avos had on principle, observed the entire Torah and fulfilled all the Mitzvos, but they had done so of their own volition, not because they were commanded to. And the same is true of their descendants. When did all that change? On the tenth of Nisan, when G-d ordered them to take a lamb and fulfill the Mitzvah of Korban Pesach. Now for the first time, K'lal Yisrael attained the level of 'Gadol metzuveh ve'oseh'), supplying that day with the natural title of 'Shabbos Ha'gadol'. And that is what the Medrash (quoted by the opening Rashi in the Chumash) means when it comments that the Torah really ought to have begun with "ha'Chodesh ha'Zeh lochem", the first Mitzvah that K'lal Yisrael were commanded.

A Yet this explanation is not yet adequate, since it only explains why the tenth of Nisan (whichever day that happens to be) carries the title 'ha'Gadol', but not why specifically the Shabbos before is called Shabbos Ha'gadol!

To resolve this, we need to remember that, based on the Medrash, one of the Mitzvos that Yisrael adhered to in Egypt, was the Shabbos. The Medrash describes how Moshe advised Paroh to give Yisrael one day a week off work (for his own benefit), and how miraculously, not only was his request granted, but Yisrael were given Shabbos as the day off. Indeed, the Anshei K'nesses Hagedolah hinted at this in the text of the Shabbos Amidah 'Moshe will rejoice in the gift of his portion'.

Consequently, the Mitzvah of taking the lamb and tying it to their bedposts must have surprised them, since it also entailed a desecration of the Shabbos. But because it was a command, whereas the Mitzvah of Shabbos was still voluntary, it overrode it.

And because the lesson of 'Gadol ha'Metzuveh ve'Oseh' came to them on Shabbos in this way, Chazal chose to commemorate 'Shabbos Ha'gadol'.

A The second explanation is based on the fact that the Egyptians worshipped the Mazel 'Lamb', the first of the Mazalos (the signs of the Zodiac). In their minds, the Mazalos constituted the Supreme power, there was none greater!

That is why G-d ordered Yisrael to take a lamb on the tenth of Nisan and tie it to their bedposts, and then to slaughter it and to sprinkle its blood (the symbol of its strength) on their door-posts - for His sake. This would serve as an object-lesson, that it is not the Mazalos who reign supreme, but G-d, who controls not only the rest of the world, but the Mazalos too (as Yisro would later exclaim "Now I know that G-d is greater than all the gods"!).

A And He deliberately chose the tenth of Nisan, because it fell on Shabbos, since Shabbos too, declares that G-d created the world in six days. This in turn, reminds us that He is the Supreme Master, who has complete jurisdiction over all of His creations - including the Mazalos, which were created during the six days of the creation, too.

A And the B'nei Yisaschar's third explanation is based on the Chazal's interpretation of the Pasuk "Mishchu, u'k'chu lochem tzon" - 'Withdraw from your idolatrous practices', they explain, 'and take a sheep to perform a Mizvah'.

Yisrael were performing a complete act of Teshuvah here, by withdrawing from their evil deeds, and making up for them with positive actions, conforming with the Pasuk in Tehilim (34:13) "Sur me'ra, va'aseh tov".

And Chazal have said (in Yuma 86b) 'Gedolah Teshuvah she'mekareves es ha'Ge'ulah' ('Teshuvah is great, because it hastens the Redemption'). And that is precisely what happened here, where their taking of the Korban Pesach was instrumental in the subsequent events, culminating in the Exodus.

And here too, G-d specifically chose the fourteenth, because it fell on Shabbos, and Chazal have said in connection with someone who observes Shabbos that even if he served idols like the generation of Enosh, he will be forgiven.


Parshah Pearls

Being Alert

"Tzav es Aharon ... zos Toras ho'oloh" (6:1).

The expression "Tzav", explains Rashi, denotes a warning to be alert on an ongoing basis starting from now. It is particularly relevant here, he adds, because it involves a loss of pocket.

What loss of pocket was there?

The Sifsei Chachamim explains that the Olas Tamid, that the Torah is about to discuss, involved an ongoing expense, in the form of two lambs every day (not to speak of the Olah's accessories - flour, wine and oil).

A The Peninei Torah, adding a little twist to the Chazal, explains it with another well-known Chazal 'Someone who is commanded is on a higher plane that someone who volunteers'. The commentaries ascribe this to the fact that once a person is commanded, he has to contend with the Yeitzer-ha'Ra, who will fight to stop him from carrying out G-d's will, to a far larger degree than he will do if the act is a voluntary one.

Therefore, when Chazal say here 'Ein Tzav ela ziruz', they mean that whenever there is a command, one needs to be particularly alert (to parry the attacks of the Yeitzer-ha'Ra).


Enthusiasm and Innocence

"Zos Toras ho'Olah, hi ho'Olah al Mokdoh al ha'Mizbei'ach" (ibid.).

The 'Mem' in "Mokdoh", implying a burning fire, is small, whereas the 'Mem' in "Tamim tiheyeh im Hashem Elokecho" (Devarim 18:13) is large.

On the one hand, says the Kotzker Rebbe, the Midah of Temimus (serving G-d in a simplistic, straightforward way [without chochmos]) must be total. On the other, the Midah of Hisla'avus (zealous enthusiasm [to which the burning fire hints]) must be contained (one may well burn inside, but it should be hidden from the public eye).

A Perhaps with this, we can understand the Gemara in Shabbos (30b), which relates how Rebbi Shimon and his son Rebbi Elazar, after emerging from the cave where they had been hidden for twelve years, began burning up all their surroundings, when they saw the people indulging in material pursuits. And it tells how G-d instructed them to return to the cave, until they had learned to restrain their Hisla'avus and keep it to themselves.


All Burned

"And every Minchah of a Kohen shall be entirely burned ... " (6:16).

The reason that the Minchah of a Kohen differed from that of a Yisrael is due to he fact that it is the owner who would have eaten it.

Consequently, says Tosfos, all that Hashem would have received from it is one three-fingered fistful (a meagre gift indeed for the Master of the World).

The Minchah of a Yisrael, on the other hand, was eaten by a Kohen, who ate 'from the Table of Hashem', in addition to the fistful that was brought on the Mizbei'ach. That was a worthy gift (from a poor man) for Hashem.


Who is Very Holy?

"And this is the law of the Guilt-offering, it is Kodesh Kodshim (very holy), like the Sin-offering" (7:1).

The sin and the guilt offerings fall under the category of Kodesh Kodshim. The reason for this, says the K'li Yakar, is that whereas someone who has not sinned is termed holy, someone who has sinned, and who does Teshuvah is holier still. Indeed, Chazal have said complete Tzadikim cannot stand in the place where Ba'alei-Teshuvah stand. For the complete Tzadik has never experienced what the Ba'al-Teshuvah did; he tasted sin and extricated himself from it.

A Rebbi Bunim from P'shischa puts it like this - the 'complete Tzadik' sees himself as perfect. He is not on the level of the Tzadik whose heart is broken on account of his sins. For Hashem loves people whose hearts are broken, because they are humble.



A live animal becomes Pasul (disqualified) from being brought as a Korban if it ...

1. ... killed a person or was involved in bestiality; was
2. ... given to a woman as payment for prostitution (esnan zonah);
3. ... exchanged for a dog (mechir kelev);
4. ... a t'reifah (any one of seventy wounds that render it unfit to survive a year), or even just a ba'al-mum (blemished);
5. ... sick:
6. … old (depending on the prescribed age of the Korban in question);
7. … sweaty;
8. … worshipped or designated for worship (ne'evad or muktzeh);
9. ... sweaty (mezuham) or
10. ... kil'ayim (certain cases of mixed parentage).

A A Shechted Korban becomes Pasul and may no longer be sacrificed if it was or became ...

1. ... 'Yotzei' - by leaving either the Azarah or Yerushalayim (depending on whether it was Kodshei Kodshim or Kodshim Kalim respectively).
2. ... 'Pigul' - if it was Shechted (or if any other major Avodah was performed with it) with the intention of eating or bringing it on the Mizbei'ach either after its allotted time or outside its allotted area.
3. ... 'Nosar' (left-over after its allotted time of a day and a night or two days and one night (depending on whether it was Kodshei Kodshim or Kodshim Kalim respectively).
4. ... 'Tamei'.
5. ... 'she'Lo le'shem ba'alim' (if it was Shechted on behalf of the wrong person - in most cases, the Korban would still be brought on the Mizbei'ach, though not in the name of the owner who had brought it).
6. ... nishpach ha'dam (if the blood of shechitah spilt, either before or after it had been collected in a bowl).
7. Hesech ha'da'as - if the Kohen took his mind off the Korban after it was been Shechted.

A Kodshim that become Pasul have to be burned, either in the Azarah (Kodshei Kodshim in most cases) or anywhere in Yerushalayim (Kodshim Kalim).



A Kohen becomes Pasul from serving in the Beis Hamikdash (either permanently or temporarily) if he is ...

1. ... a Ba'al-mum;
2. ... less than thirty or more than fifty;
3. ... the son of a divorced woman (or one of the other P'sulei Kehunah);
4. ... uncircumcised (even if this was due to the fact that two brothers had previously died on account of the B'ris Milah);
5. ... Tamei;
6. ... an Onan (whose close relative had died that day);
7. ... Tamei (even if he was a t'vul-yom, who had already toveled and was waiting for nightfall, or a mechusar kipurim, waiting to bring his Korban at the termination of his tzara'as or zivus);
8. ... a murderer (even if he only killed someone inadvertently;
9. ... drunk (even if he had drunk no more than a Revi'is of wine);
10. .. unwashed (not having washed his hands and feet from the Kiyor):
11. .. not wearing his Bigdei Kehunah (the four priestly garments, or the Kohen Gadol, his eight).


(The Chronological order of events in the Chumash)
(based mainly on the Seider ha'Doros).


Vayakhel and Pikudei

(The 11th Moshe gathers all Yisrael and tells of Tishri): them about Shabbos and the construction of the Mishkan ... the people donate all the materials.
(The 14th): More than enough has been donated of Tishri): ... Moshe orders the donations to cease.
(The 15th of Betzalel, Oholi'av and their team of Tishri - 25th helpers begin with the construction of of Kislev): the Mishkan and its Vessels, and with the making of the Bigdei Kehunah ... the work is completed on Chanukah, but the erection of the Mishkan is postponed until Nisan.


Tzav (and Tetzaveh)

(The 23rd - The Shivas Yemei ha'Milu'im (the 29th of Adar): seven days of consecration) ... Moshe erects the Mishkan daily and takes it down again ... he performs the major avodos, whilst consecration the Mizbe'ach and Aharon and his sons.


Pikudei - Shemini - Achrei-mos- Emor - Naso - Be'ha'aloscha - Chukas

Rosh Chodesh The Mishkan is erected finally, and Nisan): the Seider Avodah with Aharon as Kohen Gadol begins ... eight Parshiyos are said on this day -
the Parshah of Kohanim (Emor),
the Parshah of Levi'im (Beha'aloscha), the Parshah of Temei'im (Acharei-Mos),
the Parshah of sending the Temei'im out of the camp (Naso),
the Parshah of Avodas Yom Kipur (Acharei-Mos),
the Parshah of the prohibition for a Kohen to drink wine (Shemini),
the Parshah of the Menorah (Beha'aloscha) and
the Parshah of Parah Adumah (Chukas) ...
The twelve princes begin consecration of the Mizbe'ach, one Nasi per day, beginning with Nachshon ben Aminadav ... Nadav and Avihu die.


The rest of Seifer Vayikra - including the Dinim of the Kasher and non-Kasher animals and of Tum'ah, the Metzora, the Mitzvos of Kedoshim, Yom-tov, Sh'mitah and Yovel and the B'rachos and K'lalos, must have been said around this time (probably before the 23rd of Adar, because many of the topics would have been relevant from the moment the Mishkan was erected).
(The 13th): Moshe tells Yisrael to bring the Korban of Nisan): Pesach ... Some people are Tamei ... Pesach Sheini.
(The 14th They bring the Korban Pesach - the of Nisan): only Pesach that they will bring during the forty years in the desert.


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