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

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Vol. 17   No. 24

This issue is sponsored
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l'iluy Nishmas
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Parshas Tzav

The Four Lessons
(Adapted from Rabeinu Bachye)

This opening paragraph, known as the Parshah of 'Terumas ha'Deshen' (the separation of ashes), says Rabeinu Bachye, teaches us the following four important lessons:

1. That the Korban Olah is the greatest of all the Korbanos and that the extent of its atonement is substantial;

2. The extent of every person's obligation to serve his Creator;

3. The amazing ongoing miracle that was performed with the Mizbei'ach ha'Olah;

4. The extent of the suffering of the Resha'im who decline to receive atonement in this world. How they are destined to suffer the pangs of Gehinom that never come to an end, as Chazal say (in Rosh Hashanah 17a) 'Gehinom will terminate but their suffering will not!'

The Olah is the greatest of all the Korbanos, as is implied by the expression "This is the Olah", stressing its tremendous significance (in much the same way as Yechezkel writes in his Seifer [10:2] "That is the Chayah that I saw!" (with reference to the four 'Chayos' that support G-d's Throne).

Among the great characteristics of the Olah is the fact that it even atones for one's sinful thoughts, as the Pasuk describes in Iyov (1:5) - how he would bring Olos corresponding to his sons, "because," Iyov said, "perhaps my sons sinned in their hearts and cursed Hashem in their hearts". Indeed, the very term 'Olah' implies that 'it came up in one's heart'. And by the same token, the Olah burned on the Mizbei'ach all night, precisely because when a person is lying in bed, that is when he is prone to sinful thoughts that lead to his sinning during the day, as the Navi writes in Seifer Michah (2:1). That is why the Torah carefully arranged for the Kaparah to take place at the time of the sin. And because the sin is performed with the spirit, that is why the entire Korban goes up in flames and disintegrates into the wind, allowing no physical being to benefit from it (as they do from all other Korbanos)

. The second issue that emerges from this Parshah is the extent of every person's obligation to serve his Creator. As is well-known, the author explains, a person needs to be humble and lowly before Hakadosh-Baruch-Hu, when he stands before Him in prayer, or when he performs a Mitzvah or any other act of worship - minor or major. Any honour that is attached to his act should be directed towards G-d, devoid of the least interest in his own dignity or self-respect. Rather one should dwell on man's inadequacy, and how he fails to fulfill even a small part of the tremendous debt of gratitude that he owes G-d. Therefore he is obligated to humble himself and to negate his own Kavod before G-d, as Avraham Avinu declared "And I am dust and ashes" (Vayeira 18:27), and as David ha'Melech announced before G-d " ... who is despicable in his own eyes and despised" (Tehilim 16:4 [see footnote]) with reference to himself.

The third issue is the ongoing miracle that neither the thin layer of gold nor the wood of the Mizbei'ach ever got burned, despite the fact that the fire on the Mizbei'ach burned on it permanently. This, the author claims, was one of the great miracles that took place in the Beis-Hamikdash. In fact, he explains, it is to stress this miracle that the Torah records (in 7:5) that the fire shall burn on the Mizbei'ach and is never to be extinguished, in spite of having already written just a few Pesukim earlier that the fire on the Mizbei'ach shall burn on it.

And the fourth issue contained in the Parshah is the terrible punishment that awaits the Resha'im in Gehinom after their death. This is hinted in the third reference (see previous paragraph) to the eternal fire, when the Torah concludes (in Pasuk 6) "The continual fire shall burn on the Mizbei'ach, it shall not be extinguished". This is because the Mizbei'ach is the location where Kaparah (atonement) takes place, and the Resha'im (by virtue of the fact that they persist in their evil ways) reject the Kaparah that the Mizbei'ach offers them. That is why the Torah adds the superfluous Pasuk, to teach us that for them the fire of Gehinom will burn continually, as Yeshayah ha'Navi warns them explicitly (33:14), and as he writes in the very last Pasuk of his Seifer (in connection with the corpses of the men who rebelled against G-d) " for their decay will not cease and their fire will not be extinguished and they will be in disgrace before all of mankind!"

* * *

Parshah Pearls
(Adapted from Rabeinu Bachye)

Why Mention Aharon?

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

The reason the Torah mentions Aharon here, placing him before his sons, is because, throughout Parshas Vayikra, the Torah uses the expression "the sons of Aharon" ("and the sons of Aharon shall sprinkle the blood", "and the sons of Aharon shall arrange "). Aharon is deliberately omitted there, because, due to the role that he played in the 'Eigel ha'Zahav', G-d had rejected him.

Therefore, Moshe pleaded with G-d to re-accept his brother. 'Ribono shel Olam', he argued, 'how can the water of a well that is "hated" be "loved"? If you honoured the trees on account of its offspring (as we learned in the Mishnah in Tamid [2:3], 'All types of wood are eligible to go on the Mizbei'ach, except for wood from the olive-tree and the grape-vine - on account of their fruits, which are used for the Nesachim [the drink-offerings]), then how much more so should you honour Aharon on account of his sons!"

In response, G-d began this Parshah with the words "Command Aharon and his sons", placing Aharon before his sons.


Kodesh Kodoshim

"And this is the law of the Chatas it is Kodesh Kodoshim" (6:18).

Explaining the sequence in which the Korbanos are presented, Rabeinu Bachye explains that the four opening topics dealt with in the Parshah are those of the Olah, the Minchah, the Chatas and the Asham, all of which fall under the heading of Kodesh Kodoshim. Then come the Shelamim and the Todoh, which are Kodshim Kalim.


Shechting in the North

" In the place where the Olah is Shechted, there they shall Shecht the Chatas" (Ibid).

The Chatas comes to atone for sinful actions that are subject to Kareis, whilst the Olah atones for sinful thoughts (as we explained earlier).

And the reason that an Olah is Shechted in the same location as a Chatas, is to spare the sinner from unnecessary embarrassment. This is because, when he Shechts his Korban, onlookers will not know for sure that he sinned by his actions and is bringing a Chatas. They will think that maybe he sinned in thought only and is therefore bringing an Olah.


The author does not, however, explain why, a few Pesukim later, the Torah uses the same expression regarding the Asham "In the place where the Olah is Shechted, there they shall Shecht the Asham". Bear in mind that an Asham, like a Chatas, is brought for sinful actions.


Who Eats the Chatas?

"The Kohen who sacrifices (ha'Mechatei) the Chatas shall eat it" (6:19).

This cannot be explained literally, R. Bachye explains, because if it was, then the Kohanim would fight over who would sacrifice the Korbanos brought by a Yisrael.

What the word "ha'mechatei" must therefore refer (not to the Kohen who actually sacrifices the Korban, but) to any Kohen who is fit to sacrifice it. This precludes a Kohen who is Tamei (and who is therefore Pasul from performing the Avodah) from receiving a portion of Chatas. And the same applies to receiving a portion of a Minchah, an Asham or of the chest and the right shoulder of a Shelamim or a Todah.


Who Receives the Skin of the Olah?

"And the Kohen who brings the Olah of a man, the skin of the Olah which he sacrificed shall belong to the Kohen" (7:8).

Here too, says R. Bachye, the Pasuk cannot be understood literally, that it is specifically the Kohen who brings that Olah who receives its skin. Because just as we explained in the previous Pearl, the Pasuk does not come to preclude other Kohanim. Rather, like there, the Pasuk is coming to preclude someone who is unfit to eat it (such as someone who is Tamei). And the reason that the Torah then adds the words "asher hikriv (that he brought)" is to teach us that it is only after the Korban has actually been brought on the Mizbei'ach (and the blood sprinkled), and the owner has fulfilled his obligation, that the Kohanim are permitted to take the skin.

In the event that the animal is Shechted and found to be a T'reifah, or if the blood spilled before it has been sprinkled, the Kohanim lose their rights to the skin.

Indeed, it is in order to prevent the Kohanim from bringing a T'reifah animal (or one that is blemished [see footnote]) that the Torah writes "asher hikriv", a source for the obligation to examine a Korban for a cataract on the eye (as well as all other external blemishes) prior to the Shechitah. The reason for this, the author explains in the name of the Ramban, is because when a Kohen serves in the Beis-Hamikdash, he is acting as a shali'ach (an emissary) of all the Kohanim who are due to serve that day, and so they all share in the portion that he is due to receive. It can be compared, he explains, to war spoils, which are shared equally between the soldiers and the sentries who are left to guard the camp.


Who Really Gets It?

" And every Minchah shall belong to the Kohen who sacrifices it" (7:9).

The Pasuk cannot be referring to the Kohen who sacrifices it exclusively, says Rabeinu Bachye, since the following Pasuk writes "it shall belong to all the sons of Aharon". Nor can it belong to all the Kohanim, since the Torah writes here "to the Kohen who sacrifices it!"

What the Torah must therefore mean is that it is shared among all the members of the Mishmar (one of twenty-four groups that served in the Beis-Hamikdash in rotation) that is serving that week. More precisely, says the footnote, it was shared among the members of the Beis-Av that served that day in the Beis-Hamikdash (since each Mishmar was divided into six Batei-Avos, one on each week-day).

And the Torah specifies all three Menachos that could be donated - the Minchas Ma'afeh Tanur (baked in an oven), the Minchas Marcheshes (cooked in a deep pot) and the Minchah al ha'Machavas (fried in a flat pan). This, combined with the conclusion of the Pasuk "each man like his brother" teaches us, R. Bachye adds, that each Kohen receives an equal portion of each and every Korban that is brought that day. And this extends even to the Minchas So'les (the communal Minchah consisting of plain flour), even though each Kohen may well receive no more than a hand-full of uncooked flour.

* * *


"And Hashem spoke to Moshe saying (Moshe leimor). Command Aharon (Tzav es)" (6:1/2).

(The last letters of "Moshe leimor Tzav es" backwards read 'Torah', says the Ba'al ha'Turim, a warning to the Kohanim to study Torah.

The words preceding the command to Aharon and his sons are - 'le'Ashmah bah' (to be guilty of it). This is a hint, the Ba'al ha'Turim explains, that the Kohanim, who carry the onus of many intricate Halachos on their shoulders, should take great care to learn them properly, since an error in learning is considered Meizid (on purpose) in the eyes of Hashem (Avos 4:13).


" and he shall wear other (acherim) clothes and he shall take (ve'hotzi) the ashes to outside the camp " (6:4).

The Gematriyah of the two consecutive words "Acherim ve'hotzi" is equivalent to that of 'Kohanim ba'alei-mumin', which teaches us that Kohanim who are blemished (and who may not perform the regular Avodah) are nevertheless eligible to carry out the ashes each morning.


"This is the Korban of Aharon a tenth (Asiris) of an Eifah of fine flour, a continual offering, half (machtzisah) in the morning and half in the afternoon" (6:13).

Even though Aharon would offer his 'Minchas Chavitin' in two halves, as the Pasuk prescribes, nevertheless, he brought it from his house intact and divided it only later. Hence the Gematriyah of "Asiris" is equivalent to that of 'Isoron Sholeim (a complete Isaron)', and the Gematriyah of "machtzisah" is equivalent to that of 'mechtzah mi'sholeim' (half taken from a whole [Isoron]).


"And this is the law of the Asham " (7:1).

The word "Asham" appears five times in this Parshah, the Ba'al ha'Turim points out, corresponding to the five Korbanos Asham Vaday (Asham that comes to atone for a sin that one definitely committed - Asham Gezeilos, Me'ilos, Shifchah Charufah, Nazir & Metzora.


" it shall be for all the sons of Aharon, one man like his brother. And this is the law (Toras) of the Shelamim" (7:10\11).

The Torah juxtaposes "brother" next to "this is the Torah", to teach us, says the Ba'al ha'Turim, that when two people study Torah together, they become close like brothers - even if they argued vociferously during their learning session (as the Gemara states in Kidushin 30b, commenting on the Pasuk in Chukas [21:14) "es voheiv be'sufah").


"The person who brings his Peace-Offering to Hashem shall bring the chest to wave it (lehonif oso) as a wave-offering before Hashem" (7:30\31).

The Gematriyah of "lehonif oso" the Ba'al ha'Turim observes, is equivalent to 'Molech u'Meivi, Ma'aleh u'Morid' (in all four directions, upwards and downwards) which is exactly how Chazal describe the waving ceremony.

And what's more, he adds, that is why the Torah mentions the word "Tenufah" three times (once with an extra 'Hey') to hint at the four directions, and twice the word "Terumah", to hint at the upward and downward directions.

* * *

(Adapted from Rabeinu Bachye [6:21])

Even though the Mishnah in the fifth Perek of Pirkei Avos lists only ten miracles that occurred regularly in the Beis-Hamikdash, R. Bachye, based on other sources, lists eighteen;

1. No woman ever miscarried on account of the powerful smell of burning Korbanos that constantly pervaded the Chatzer;

2. The flesh of the Korbanos never became putrid, even in the hottest summer months;

3. The Kohen Gadol never had an emission on Yom Kipur (in spite of his grueling schedule and the high state of nervousness that must have accompanied it);

4. Not a single fly was ever seen in the Beis-Hamitbachayim (the area where the Korbanos were Shechted).

5. Nothing ever happened to invalidate (e.g. on account of Tum'ah) the Omer (on Pesach), the Sh'tei ha'Lechem (on Shavu'os) or the Lechem ha'Panim (that were baked every week);

6. The rain never extinguished the fire on the Mizbei'ach ha'Olah;

7. The wind never interfered with the pillar of smoke that rose vertically from the Mizbei'ach (even though there was a Mitzvah to add natural fire, over and above the fire that descended from Heaven and devoured the Korbanos.

8. On Yom Kipur, the people stood tightly packed, yet when they prostrated themselves on the ground, there was room all around them (so that nobody could hear the person next to him confessing);

9. Nobody was ever bitten by a snake or by a scorpion in Yerushalayim;

10. Nobody ever complained of lack of space with regard to staying overnight in Yerushalayim (for Aliyas ha'Regel), despite the tremendous influx of visitors. Alternatively, nobody ever left Yerushalayim for lack of Parnasah.

The above list of miracles is the one cited in the Mishnah in Avos. The following R. Bachye took from the Gemara in Yuma and other sources.

11. Earthenware vessels in which a Chatas was burned, and which became 'Nosar' (and which could neither be used nor taken out of the Beis-Hamikdash), had to be broken in the Azarah. The ground miraculously absorbed all the shards.

12. In spite of the fact that fire burned continuously on the Mizbei'ach ha'Olah (which was made of wood), and that the layer of copper was no more than the thickness of one Dinar coin, neither did the copper melt from the heat, nor did the wood burn;

13. Even though they placed the same amount of oil in the Menorah each day of the year, it never happened that a lamp was extinguished before morning during the long summer nights, nor did it ever happen that a lamp continued burning after day-break following the short winter nights (with the exception of the Ner ha'Ma'aravi, as we shall now see);

14. The Ner ha'Ma'aravi contained the same amount of oil as the other lamps, yet night after night, it was the first lamp to be lit (to kindle the other lamps from it), and the last one to go out - only in the afternoon.

15. Concerning the red thread that they would hang at the entrance to the Heichal on Yom-Kipur; in the day, it would turn white as soon as the goat (the Sa'ir la'Azazel) reached the desert;

16. When the Sa'ir la'Azazel was pushed off the cliff, by the time it reached halfway to the bottom of the mountain, it was torn to pieces, until not one of its limbs remained intact.

17. When they lit the Menorah each evening, every single courtyard in Yerushalayim was illuminated (from its light), to the point that they were able to use that light!

18. When Sh'lomoh Hamelech built the Beis-Hamikdash, he 'planted' there all kinds of sweet fruit-trees of gold, which used to produce their fruit in the appropriate season.


Citing the Gemara in Yuma, the author adds a nineteenth miracle (and it is not clear as to why he does not include it in the original list)

After being baked each Friday, the Lechem ha'Panim would remain steaming hot for eight days, until it was placed on the Shulchan on the following Shabbos.

The Gemara in Yuma asks why the Tana omits the ongoing miracle that took place with the Aron, which took up no space, allowing the Keruvim that Sh'lomoh made to stand on the floor of the Kodesh Kodshim, even though there was no room for them?

And it answers that the Tana only listed the miracles that took place 'outside' the Kodesh Kodshim, but not those that took place inside.

Presumably, this also explains why the Tana omitted the miracle of the Keruvim that were on the lid of the Aron. Each Yom-Tov, Chazal teach us, when Yisrael would come to Yerushalayim for Aliyas ha'Regel, the Kohanim would lift up the curtain of the entrance to the Kodesh Kodshim, and show them the Keruvim, which, when Yisrael were worthy, they would see embracing each other. This symbolized the intense love that existed between Hakadosh-Baruch-Hu and K'lal Yisrael.

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