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

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Vol. 10   No. 25

This issue is co-sponsored
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Chayim Ze'ev ben Yisrael (27th Nisan)
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suffer the same fate as Haman and his ten sons.

Parshas Tzav (Parah)

The Korban Minchah
(Part 1)
(Adapted mainly from the Seifer ha'Chinuch)

Perhaps the flour-offering is called Minchah, the Chinuch suggests, because it is the least costly of all the Korbanos, much like a small gift, which translates as 'minchah'. Or perhaps it is because it often comes as a voluntary Korban, and what one gives voluntarily is often referred to as a Minchah, too.

All types of Menachos (flour-offerings) are Kodesh Kodshim (the highest level of sanctity), and can therefore only be eaten in the Azarah by male Kohanim.


Here is a list of all the Menachos (twelve in all) that were brought independently (i.e. excluding the Minchas Nesachim [the flour and wine offering that accompanied most of the Korbenos Tzibur]).

There are three communal Menachos - the Omer (on Pesach), the Shtei ha'Lechem (the two breads) on Shavu'os and the Lechem ha'Panim (the twelve breads that were placed on the Shulchan each week). And there are nine individual Menchos (four that are obligatory, and five that are voluntary).

The four obligatory Menachos are - the 'Minchas Chotei' (the poor man's Korban in a Korban Oleh ve'Yored); the 'Minchas Sotah' (which the Torah refers to as a 'Minchas Kena'os'); the 'Minchas Chinuch' (brought by a Kohen on the day that he was initiated) and the 'Minchas Chavitin' (brought by the Kohen Gadol every day).

The five voluntary Menachos are - a 'Minchas So'les' (a Minchah consisting of flour); a 'Minchah al ha'Machavas' (a Minchah brought in a flat pan); a 'Minchas Marcheshes' (a Minchah brought in a deep pan); and two kinds of 'Minchas Ma'afeh-Tanur' (a Minchah baked in the oven) the one as Challos, the other as wafers.

Most of these Menachos were made from wheat, the only two exceptions being the Minchas Sotah and the Omer, which were made from barley; some were eaten by the Kohanim (except for the Kemitzah, the fistful of flour that the Kohen had separated from it) whilst others were completely burned on the Mizbei'ach. All Menachos were made in the form of Matzah, with the sole exception of the Sh'tei ha'Lechem, which were brought as Chametz, and which could not therefore be brought on the Mizbei'ach.

The owner of the Minchah would bring flour from home, placed in a silver or golden vessel, or in a vessel of another type of metal. He would hand this over to a Kohen, who would take it to the south-western corner of the Mizbei'ach and take from it a Kemitzah with the tips of his fingers. The Kohen would then take the Kemitzah up on to the Mizbei'ach and burn it. The remainder of the Minchah, which was distributed among the Kohanim that evening, was eaten in the Azarah.


The Din of the Minchah
(Adapted from the Rambam, Ma'aseh ha'Korbanos 12)

1. No Minchah comprised less that an Isoron (a tenth of an Eifah - the measure from which Chalah has to be taken) of flour. As far as the five voluntary Menachos listed above is concerned, this was a minimum measurement, and the owner was permitted to bring even a thousand Isaron, if he so wished.

2. But the Minchas ha'Omer, the Minchas Chotei, the Minchas Kena'os, the Minchas Chinuch and the Minchas Chavitin had to consist of one Isaron precisely, no less and no more.

3. All Menachos had to be brought to the south-western corner of the Mizbei'ach. They did not however, require waving, with the exception of the Minchas Sotah and the Minchas Omer (which is therefore referred to as Minchas ha'Tenufah).

4. All Menachos that were brought on the Mizbei'ach required oil and frankincense, a lug (six egg-volumes) of oil for each Isaron, and a fistful of frankincense for each Minchah, irrespective of how many Isronos it comprised. The notable exceptions were the Minchas Kena'os and a Minchas Chotei, by which the Torah specifically precludes oil and frankincense.

5. The Kohen would add oil to both the Minchas Chinuch and the Minchas Chavitin.

6. Most Menachos that were brought on the Mizbei'ach required a Kemitzah. After the entire fistful had been burnt on the Mizbei'ach, the rest of the Minchah was eaten by the Kohanim. The exception to this rule was a Minchah brought by a male Kohen, which was entirely burned, with nothing at all going to the Kohanim. And this incorporates the Minchas Chinuch, the Minchas Chavitin, and the Minchas Chotei, as well as the Minchas Nedavah of a Kohen.

7. The Minchah of a Kohenes (see the Ra'avad and the Kesef Mishneh) required a Kemitzah to be taken and the rest was eaten by the Kohanim.


Parshah Pearls
(Adapted from the P'ninei Torah and the Ma'ayanah shel Torah)

Playing with Fire

"Hi ha'Olah al Mokdoh" (6:2).

Chazal (taking these words out of context), explain this to mean that a conceited person is punished by fire. Why specifically by fire, one may well ask?

Reb Hisrshli Berlin explains it like this. Pride is the garment worn by G-d (as David writes in Tehilim) "Hashem has ruled, he dresses in pride".

And the Gemara tells how a heretic once asked in what sort of Mikveh Hashem Toveled after burying Moshe. Back came the reply that Hashem Toveled in fire.

That is why G-d says to the person who is proud 'You wore My unique garment, now try Toveling in My unique Mikveh!'


Banishing Improper Thoughts

Based perhaps on the fact that the Olah is brought for improper thoughts (or perhaps because the word 'olah' has its own connotations of 'thoughts'), the Zohar explains that someone who is overcome by such thoughts, should banish them with the fire of Torah and Mitzvos.

Presumably, the Zohar is referring to studying Torah and performing Mitzvos 'with a bren' (with great enthusiasm), for the greater the enthusiasm that one has for any given project, the less room there is in one's heart for thoughts of anything else.


Loss of Pocket

The Ramban comments on Chazal, who explain that the word "Tzav" generally serves as a special warning in cases that entail a loss of pocket (see Rashi). He connects it to the following Parshah, which speaks about the Kohen Gadol's daily Korban (the Minchas Chavitin), which must have cost him a lot of money.

But this is strange, asks the K'sav Sofer quoting his father the Chasam Sofer! The Kohanim received Terumos and Ma'asros from all of Yisrael, and one would have thought that, as a result, the Kohen Gadol would have had an abundance of flour and oil. So why should his Korban have cost him anything at all?

He answers however, that the Pasuk is speaking about Aharon ha'Kohen and Elazar his son (his successor), who lived in that generation, and who had to bring the Minchas Chavitin, even though they did not yet receive any Terumos or Ma'asros.

How did they then fulfill the Mitzvah of Minchas Chavitin (seeing that the Mana, which was not made from flour, was not eligible for it)? The Kohen Gadol must have purchased the wheat and oil from the merchants whom Yisrael encountered as they traveled through the desert - for a hefty price, no doubt. That is why the word "Tzav" is most appropriate.


All for Hashem

"It shall not be baked Chametz, their portion I have given them ... " (6:10).

The prohibition of baking the Minchah as Chametz refers to the Kometz, the part of the Minchah that is given to Hashem. Nevertheless, Chazal derive from the juxtaposition of the two words "Chametz chelkam", that even the part of the Minchah that is given to the Kohanim, is included in the prohibition. In other words, the Kohanim too, are obligated to eat the Minchah as Matzah, and not as Chametz.

The reason for this, says the Meshech Chochmah, is contained in the words that follow "I gave it to them from My fire-offerings". The entire Minchah, he explains, belongs to Hashem, part of which He wants to be given to Him directly and placed on the Mizbei'ach, whereas the rest, He wants given to His servants, the Kohanim.

It comes out, he continues, that the Minchah is eaten entirely before Hashem, part of it on the Mizbei'ach and part of it, by the Kohanim (which also explains why it had to be eaten in the Azarah). And that is why both parts share the same restriction regarding the Chametz.


Preferred Species

"It (the Minchah) is Kodesh Kodshim, like the sin-offering and like the guilt-offering" (6:10).

Why is the Minchah classified as Kodesh Kodshim, even when it is brought voluntarily, whereas the Sh'lamim, which comes voluntarily, is only Kodshim Kalim?

The reason for this, answers the Abarbanel, is because the person to bring a Minchah is generally a poor man, and it is to show His appreciation for the Korban of a poor person, that G-d elevates the status of his Korban.

And following a similar line of thought, he explains, the Chatas and the Asham are Kodesh Kodshim too, because they are brought to atone for a sin, and require the sinner to do Teshuvah. We know that no Tzadik can reach the level of a Ba'al Teshuvah. It is therefore natural for a Ba'al Teshuvah's Korban to be classified as Kodesh Kodshim.


Where There is Love ...

"And the congregation gathered to the entrance of the Ohel Mo'ed ... This is the thing that Hashem commanded you to do ... " (8:4/5).

Rashi points out that although the entire congregation, comprising hundreds of thousands of people, could not possibly have gathered in the small space of 'in front of the Ohel Mo'ed', the fact that they did was nothing but a miracle.


There is a well-known saying, 'The eye of a needle is not too narrow for lovers, whereas the big, wide world is not wide enough for haters'.

It follows therefore, that for Yisrael to have all stood in that narrow space, they must have been full of love for each other.

That is why Moshe then said to them - "This is the thing ... ". Having reached such a high level of 'Achdus' (unity), he was merely reminding them that this is really what Hashem expected of them at all times. And what's more, we may add, there is no better way of bringing the Shechinah into our midst, for so the Pasuk concludes "And the Glory of Hashem will appear to you".


The Wise, the Strong and the Rich
(from the Haftarah)

"So says Hashem, let the wise man not boast about his wisdom, nor the strong man about his strength nor the rich man about his riches. Only with this may a man boast, being wise and knowing Me" (Yeshayah 9:22/23).

Wisdom, strength and wealth per se, are not things about which one can boast (for they are of no real value).

However, explains the G'ra, if one uses these attributes to be wise and to know Hashem, the same three Midos become instruments in helping a person to come closer to Hashem, thereby adopting a great value.


Perhaps one may explain the same concept from a slightly different dimension. True, the qualities of wisdom, strength and riches are not intrinsically valuable. But that is because they are Heavenly gifts that one did nothing to obtain.

There is however a branch of each of the three attributes which is highly commendable, because they are all expressions of Avodah. Chazal have taught that a wise man is one who learns from anybody, a strong man is one who quashes his Yeitzer ha'Ra and keeps him in check, whereas a rich man is one who is always satisfied.

And that is the sort of 'Chacham, Gibor and Ashir' that is praiseworthy, because it leads a person to 'becoming wise and knowing Hashem'.


History of the World
(Adapted from the Seder Ha'doros)

The Post-Churban Era (Part VI)


The Third Generation of Amora'im:

Rav Yehudah dies, and so does Rebbi Yochanan (according to some opinions).

Rabah (bar Nachmeini) is appointed Rosh Yeshivah in Pumbedisa. He is eighteen at the time and he will hold this position for twenty-two years.

Rabah bar Chiya teaches Torah in Sura throughout this period.

Rav Huna dies in Sura. He is succeeded by his Talmid Rav Chisda.

Rebbi Ami and Rebbi Asi succeed Rebbi Yochanan as Roshei Yeshivah in Eretz Yisrael. (It is not clear why the Seider ha'Doros omits Rebbi Elazar, Rebbi Yochanan's Talmid, whom the Gemara cites as his immediate successor.) They live in Teverya.

Rebbi Yehudah Nesi'ah, the son of Raban Gamliel (Rebbi Yehudah ha'Nasi's son) lives around this time. His grandson will bear the same name as him.



Rav Chisda dies.



The Persians issue a Gezeiras Sh'mad (forced conversion) on the Jews.



Rav Nachman bar Yitzchak dies.



Rabah bar Rav Huna dies (though it is equally possible that when the Seifer K'risus - whom the author is quoting here - writes 'and after him, Rabah bar Rav Huna', he means that he succeeded him).



Rabah (bar Nachmeini) dies. He is succeeded by his Chaver, Rav Yosef, who is blind. He reigns for two and a half years and dies in 4085.


The Fourth Generation of Amora'im:


Abaye is Rosh Yeshivah in Pumbedisa. Shavur Malka, who is extremely conversant in Jewish law, is king of Persia at this time.

A philosopher called Manni introduces the concept of two gods, one the god of good, the other, of evil, and he gains many adherents. Shavur Malka pleads with him to go with his men to assist him in a certain matter. He does indeed go with his four hundred men, all of whom he hangs.

The governor of a city in the kingdom of Naples by the name of Paulni is the first to employ a system of bells to call the people to worship.

Abaye dies. His close friend Rava (bar Rav Yosef) who is Rosh Yeshivah in Mechuza, survives him and dies in ...

4111 or 4113

Rav Ashi is born. The decree of Sh'mad gathers momentum in Eretz Yisrael, and teaching decreases. Babylonians who are in Eretz Yisrael, such as Ravin and Rav Dimi, return to Bavel.

Rav Papa succeeds Rava as Rosh Yeshivah, in Neresh (a town near Sura), and the two Yeshivos (in Sura and Neherda'a) combine once again.


The Fifth Generation of Amora'im:


Rav Nachman bar Yitzchak becomes Rosh Yeshivah in Pumbedisa after Rava's death. He dies in 4117, and Rav Papa takes over his Yeshivah, too. His Chaverim are Rav Eina Saba and Rav Yehudah (not the Rav Yehudah who died in 4058). Rav Chama is appointed Rosh Yeshivah in Neherda'a.



Hillel ha'Nasi (the second), son of Rebbi Yehudah Nesi'ah, grandson of Rebbi Yehudah ha'Nasi, and tenth generation after Hillel ha'Zaken, is the Nasi in Eretz Yisrael. Until his time, Beis-Din had been fixing Rosh Chodesh according to the testimony of two witnesses who had seen the new moon. He is the one to fix the calendar that is still in use today. It is at this time that Semichah is abolished in Eretz Yisrael. They also abolish the dating of documents from the year that the Greeks came to power, dating them stead from the Creation.


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