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

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Vol. 13   No. 24

This issue is sponsored
by the Intract Family
l'iluy Nishmos
Yosef b'R. Yitzchak ha'Levy z.l.
& his wife
Rachel bas R. Ze'ev a.h.

Parshas Tzav
(Shabbos ha'Gadol)

A Waste of Money!
(Adapted from the Ma'yanah shel Torahon the regular Haftarah)

"Add your Olos (burned-offerings) to your Shelamim (peace-offerings), and eat meat" (Yirmiyahu 7:21).

The Rambam writes in Hilchos Teshuvah that the major component of a Korban that attains atonement is Viduy (the confession that accompanies it). Indeed, says the Medrash Yalkut (Yirmayahu), the Beis-Hamikdash was destroyed precisely because they declined to say Viduy when bringing their Korbanos, as the Navi Yirmiyahu informed the people "Behold I will punish you for having said 'I did not sin' " (2:35).

In fact, all Korbanos require Viduy, the Chatas, the Asham (each of which is brought for specific sins), and even the Olah (which atones for a Mitzvas Asei and a 'La'av ha'Nitak la'Asei' [i.e. a La'av that is linked to an Asei]). The one exception, says the Rambam, is the Shelamim, which requires instead, praises of Hashem, which the owner sings when he brings it. It transpires therefore, that someone who does not recite Viduy together with his Korban must be bringing a Shelamim, and not a Korban that comes to atone for a sin.

And that, the Ma'yanah shel Torah explains, is what the Navi is saying here "Your Olos, that are not accompanied by confessions, are no more than additions to your Shelamim, which you only bring in order to eat meat, rather then a mark of repentance for your sins. Such Olos are not acceptable before Hashem.


The Metzudas David has a completely different approach to this Pasuk. He connects it with the Navi's rebuke earlier in the chapter. Yirmiyah ha'Navi had rebuked the people for treating the Beis-Hamikdash as a melting-pot for all their sins. They brought sacrifices to the Beis-Hamikdash on the understanding that this Mitzvah would wipe out all their sins, and that, as a result of it, no harm could possibly befall them. Consequently, they dismissed the Navi's warnings out of hand. The impending Churban of which he spoke, they claimed, would never materialize - because they brought Korbanos to the Beis-Hamikdash.

And it was in this context that the Navi told them that they may as well add their Olos (gifts to Hashem which He declined to accept [why, we shall see shortly]) to their Shelamim. In this way at least, they would be able to eat the meat. Otherwise, it would be a pity to bring an Olah that would be completely burned, only to have it rejected. And the Korban Tamid (twice daily) was an Olah.


And it is in the same vein that the Pasuk continues (22/23) "Because I did not speak with your fathers and I did not command them ... to bring an Olah or a Shelamim, only this did I command them saying 'listen to My voice and I will be for you a G-d ...' ".

When, the Metzudas David explains, following the Exodus from Egypt, Yisrael stood at Har Sinai, G-d did not command them to bring Korbanos. He did however, command them to obey His instructions, as the Pasuk records in Yisro. This is a clear proof, he says, that bringing Korbanos was not the chief objective of Yetzi'as Mitzrayim; listening to G-d's Voice and obeying His commands, was! Yet Yisrael constantly refused to do so. They insisted that bringing Korbanos was the antidote to all their woes, and that this would suffice to atone for all their sins. Hence the Navi's words here, which are really a repetition of what Shmuel Hanavi said to Shaul Hamelech, when the latter claimed that, despite Hashem's distinct instructions to the contrary, he had spared the animals, in order to bring them as sacrifices "Behold obedience is better than Shelamim, to pay attention, preferable to the fat of rams" (Shmuel 1 15:22).


The Malbim disagrees with this interpretation. interprets it differently. Based on the premise that G-d did indeed demand sacrifices from Yisrael, he asks how the Navi can suggest otherwise. And, based on his interpretation of the Pasuk under discussion, he explains that G-d did not ask their fathers to bring Olos and Shelamim as an end in itself, but rather, in the form of a covenant between Himself and Yisrael, to serve as a constant reminder of their obligations towards Him, to remind them to go in His ways and to serve Him faithfully. But Yisrael did not do that. They adamantly refused to comply with His instructions, a clear indication that they considered the Korbanos to be an end in itself, a separate entity that had nothing whatsoever to do with listening to Hashem and obeying His commands. But that, says the Malbim, was not what He had initially commanded them "I did not speak with your fathers and I did not command them" to bring Korbanos under such a false premise.

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Parshah Pearls

Zos Toras ho'Olah ...

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

This expression is used by each Korban discussed in the Parshah. The P'ninim mi'Shulchan ha'G'ro explains that it invariably comes to teach us Dinim that have been added to the fundamental laws of that particular Korban. In other words, the Torah has already discussed the basic Olah in Parshas Vayikra, and now it is coming to add the Dinim pertaining to the time that it needs to be burned. With regard to other Korbanos, it teaches us when they must be eaten.

Similarly, he says, the Torah writes "This is the law of the Metzora ... ". It has already listed the laws of Tzara'as in Tazri'a, and is now coming to add the Dinim pertaining to the Metzora's purification.


Why the Todah Appears Only Now

"If one brings it (the Shelamim) as a Todah (a Thanks-offering) ... " (7:12).

Why, asks the Chochmas Chayim, has the Torah refrained from discussing the Korban Todah until now? Why did it not insert it in Vayikra, where it discussed all the other Korbanos?

Before attempting to answer the question, we first need to point out that the Torah did not discuss the Korban Bechor, Ma'aser, or Pesach in Vayikra either. The reason for these omissions seems to be based on the fact, that all of these Korbanos are basically Shelamim, each with its own special laws, as the Mishnah explains in 'Eizehu Mekoman'. And this concurs with the G'ra that we cited in the previous Pearl. According to what we wrote there, the Torah deals with the basic Shelamim in Vayikra, adding further details here (in the event that the Shelamim happens to be a Todah). As far as Ma'aser Beheimah is concerned, it deals with that aspect of Shelamim in Bechukosai; whilst the Shelamim called 'Bechor', it lists in Korach. Each specific Korban is dealt with in its appropriate place.


Three Generations

"And the Kohen who is anointed in his place from among his sons shall do it (the special daily Minchah brought by the Kohen Gadol), an everlasting statute ... " (6:15).

Taking the Pasuk out of context, the Be'er Yitzchak links it to the well-known Chazal stated in connection with the Pasuk "They (the words of Torah) will not be moved from your mouth, from the mouths of your children or from the mouths of your grandchildren forever". Chazal explain there that after three generations of Talmidei-Chachamim, Torah returns to its inn (i.e. its place of residence, ensuring that future generations will automatically turn out to be Talmidei-Chachamim). And that, he says, is what the Torah is hinting here "The anointed Kohen (referring to a Talmid-Chacham), in his place (his son) from his sons (his grandsons) an everlasting statute (Torah is there to stay)".


The question is asked, in view of this Chazal, how it is ever possible for any Jew descending from a family of Talmidei-Chachamim to stray from the path? And what's more, are we not all descendants of Avraham, Yitzchak and Ya'akov? So what happened along the way?

The popular answer is that as Chazal say 'Torah returns to its inn'. If a guest arrives at his hotel and finds the door locked, what does he do? He finds himself lodgings for the night in another hotel. Likewise, when Torah returns to the fourth or fifth ... generation, but finds the door locked, it goes somewhere else. The Torah may well return to its inn, but the onus is on us to open the door and let it in.

What Chazal therefore mean is that after the third generation, a Jew will find that if he sets his mind to learning and keeping Mitzvos, he will have no difficulty in succeeding. But he must set his mind to it! Should he choose to go and follow other pursuits, there is nothing that will prevent him from severing the connections. Torah will find others to replace him. In fact, this can be compared to the Aseres Yemei Teshuvah, where a person will find it easy to do Teshuvah, as the Gemara in Rosh-Hashanah explains. But this does not mean that someone who decides not to do Teshuvah, will be forced to do it against his will. On the contrary, someone who fails to do Teshuvah will be taken to task for not availing himself of the opportunity when it was presented to him, as the Ba'alei Musar explain.


Why Does The Tahor Not Transform the Tamei?

"And the flesh that touches anything Tamei shall not be eaten" (7:19).

Why is it, asks the Kotzker Rebbe, that when something Tamei touches something Tahor, it renders it Tamei, but when something Tahor touches something Tamei, it does not render it Tahor?

The answer, it seems to me, lies in the definition of Tahor and Tamei. But first, let us add Kadosh to the list. Because there too, we find that if Chulin touches Kodesh, it becomes Kadosh (see for example Sh'mos 29:37), but not vice-versa. Tahor is something in its natural state. That something can either rise to a level of Kedushah or fall to one of Tum'ah. In other words, Kedushah and Tum'ah are extremes (accessories that can be added to Tahor or extracted from it), whereas Taharah is in the middle (the body to which the accessories can be added or subtracted).

That being the case, it stands to reason that it is the extreme that affects the regular, and not vice-versa.

To explain this further, it can be compared to a new car, computer or whatever. Someone who purchases a new machine is faced with three possibilities; he can leave the machine as it is (Tahor), or he can purchase extra parts, and turn it into a super model (Kadosh); whereas if he breaks existing parts, he renders it malfunctional (Tamei). Clearly, it is always the basic machine that stands to be affected by improving it or spoiling it. There is no other way round!


Two Kinds of Chata'os

"And any Chatas (Sin-offering), whose blood is brought into the Ohel Mo'ed (the Kodesh) to atone in the Kodesh, shall not be eaten; it shall be burned in fire" (6:23).

The blood of a regular Chatas is sprinkled on the outer Mizbei'ach (the Mizbach ho'Olah), and the meat is eaten by the Kohanim. On the other hand, a Chatas Tzibur (brought by the community), of a Kohen Gadol or that of Yom-Kipur, is sprinkled on the inner Mizbei'ach (the Mizbach ha'Ketores) and its flesh is entirely burned.

The reason for this, the Meshech Chochmah explains, is because a regular Chatas atones for a sin performed be'Shogeg, where the physical part of man sins, but without the participation of the Ru'ach and the Seichel (the Neshamah). Consequently, it will suffice for his atonement to take place on the outer Mizbei'ach, which represents the outer limbs of man. It is also not possible to discard the forces within him that caused him to sin; he needs only to sanctify them in the service of His Creator, taking his cue from the Kohanim, who eat the meat of the Korban, in sanctity in the Azarah of the Beis-Hamikdash. Therefore the animal is brought on the Mizbei'ach.

A Chatas Tzibur and one of a Kohen Gadol on the other hand, which are brought following an erroneous ruling on the part of Sanhedrin or of the Kohen Gadol, concern a sin that has been perpetrated with the Seichel (as is the Chatas brought on Yom-Kipur, which atones for sins performed on purpose ['Zodon Tum'as Mikdash ve'Kodashav']). That is why its blood needs to be sprinkled on the inner Mizbei'ach (corresponding to the Seichel which dwells inside the person). Neither may its meat be eaten, since a mistake that emanates from the Seichel must be rooted out and destroyed. Which is why the Torah issues the ruling " ... it shall be burned in fire".

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Adapted from the B'nei Yisaschar

Hashem's Chesed

In one of the early editions, we suggested that the name Shabbos 'ha'Gadol' is connected with the connotation of the word which means Chesed (as in 'ho'Keil - ha'Godol, ha'Gibor ve'ha'Noro', which refer to the three Avos respectively; ha'Godol, to Avraham, whose outstanding Midah was Chesed, as is well-known).

With the command to take a lamb for the Korban Pesach, G-d was, for the first time, focusing on K'lal Yisrael directly, and so the miracles that surrounded Shabbos ha'Gadol ... the Egyptians' inability to slay the people who were abusing their gods, and the civil war between the firstborn and Par'oh's troops ... were a pure display of G-d's Midas ha'Chesed toward His people. How befitting therefore, to refer to this Shabbos as 'Shabbos ha'Gadol', another way of saying 'A Shabbos of Chesed'.


This is what the B'nei Yisaschar (in one of numerous explanations) has to say on the subject.

Why, he asks, do we say in 'Al ha'Nisim' on Purim 'And you in your great mercy upset his (Haman's) plan ... .' What is the significance of Hashem's Mercy here?

To answer this, he cites the tradition that when a person on whose behalf a miracle is performed, is a first-hand witness to the downfall of his enemies, it is because he has been saved on his own merit. But when it occurs on the merits of others, then he is denied that satisfaction. (This explains why Lot and his wife, who were saved on the merit of Avraham, were not permitted to witness the destruction of the people of S'dom. Indeed, Lot's wife was turned into a pillar of salt, because she turned round to look, even though she had been declared unworthy of seeing their downfall).

However, says the Chida, if the miracle is based purely on Hashem's Chesed or Rachamim, then permission to see one's enemy being destroyed may well be granted, despite the fact that the recipient of that Mercy is intrinsically unworthy. Now by the miracle of Purim, Yisrael saw the premature downfall of Haman and his degrading demise on the gallows (which was performed fifty Amos in the air, in full view of anyone who happened to glance in that direction).

K'lal Yisrael did not for one moment believe that their salvation came about through their own merit. So they concluded that it can only have been the result of Divine Mercy. Hence the phrase 'and you in Your great mercy ... '.

And the same argument can be applied here to Shabbos ha'Gadol. Yisrael had taken the lambs in front of the frustrated Egyptians and were privy to all of the ensuing miracles. They knew that this was not the result of their own righteousness, for, as Chazal inform us, the very need to take the lamb for the Pesach four days in advance was because, without its merit ('Dam Pesach and Dam Milah') they would not have been worthy to survive Makas Bechoros and then to leave Egypt (see Rashi, Bo 24:6).

At the end of the day, all this points to the Chesed of Hashem. And so Chazal called this day 'Shabbos ha'Gadol'. Moreover, G-d chose to do this on Shabbos, because Shabbos in itself, is conducive to Chesed (as is evident from Tehilim Chapter 92, that we say every Shabbos), and particularly at Minchah time, as the Zahor explains (which may well have been the time of day when the people took the lambs), the miracle took place specifically on Shabbos, and we commemorate Shabbos ha'Gadol, and not just the tenth of Nissan.

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