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

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Vol. 9   No. 23

This issue is sponsored l'iluy Nishmos
Yossef b'Reb Yitzchak ha'Levi z.l.
Ve'Rochel bas Reb Zev o.h


The Study of Korbanos

The Chafetz Chayim quotes the Gemara in Yuma (6a). The Gemara explains how the phrase "Command Aharon and his sons saying" (Vayikro 6:2) implies that the Mitzvah of Korbanos is not confined to their bringing, but extends to the study of the pertinent laws of the Korban that is being brought. Without it, it would appear, one has not fulfilled the Mitzvah, perhaps even at all, and certainly not properly.

A parallel exists in the Hagadah, where Raban Gamliel warns that anyone who fails to speak about Pesach, Matzah and Moror has not fulfilled his duty. There too, at least according to some commentaries, the Tana is referring to the Mitzvah of eating the Pesach, Matzah and Maror (rather than to the Mitzvah of Hagadah). So we see how closely linked the oral rendition of the Mitzvah can sometimes be to the actual performance of the Mitzvah.


Today, when the Beis-Hamikdash is destroyed, and we are denied the possibility of performing the Mitzvah, the Mitzvah of studying the laws of the Korbanos that we ought to be bringing, nevertheless applies. Moreover, by studying those laws, the Torah considers us as having actually brought the Korban, as Chazal derive from the Torah's constant use of the expression "This is the law of the Olah" "This is the law of the Chatas" "This is the law of the Shelamim" in Parshas Tzav.

So the Mitzvah of verbalizing the oral laws of the Korbanos is twofold: 1. As a complement to bringing the Korban, and 2. As a replacement for the Korban, when it cannot be brought.


Regarding the second application of the Mitzvah, one should always bear in mind that there are many other categories of Mitzvah that are not practiced nowadays (such as the laws of Tum'ah and Taharah). Yet the area of Korbanos is the only area of Halachah where G-d accepts our lip-service in lieu of the genuine article. But then, of course, the concept is based on Pesukim in the Torah, as we just explained, as well as the Pasuk in Hoshei'a (14:13) "And we will pay the bulls with our lips". No such Pasuk exists regarding other areas of Halachah. (See also Parshah Pearls, 'The Four Sedarim')


And that's not all! The Zohar tells of a covenant whereby anyone who discusses with Kavanah the topic of Korbanos in Shul (during Davening) and in the Beis-Hamedrash (during his Torah-study) is assured that even the prosecuting angels who have been given the task of bringing his sins to the attention of the Heavenly Court, will be stripped of this option. They will only be allowed to speak good about him. So powerful is the study of Korbanos, that it is even capable of transforming a prosecutor into a defense-counsel.


With this, we can better understand a Gemara in Megilah (16a). The Gemara describes how Haman came to dress Mordechai in the royal robes, to lead him through the streets of Shushan on the royal stallion. Entering Mordechai's presence, he found the Chachamim seated before him, whilst he taught them the laws of the Kemitzah (the fistful of flour that was taken from every Korban Minchah, and burned on the Mizbei'ach).

Amazing, remarks the Chafetz Chayim. Mordechai and the Jewish people are in mortal danger, and Mordechai decides to learn the laws of the Korbanos! (see Rashi in Megilah).

However, with the Zohar that we just quoted, Mordechai's choice of topic at that moment was dead on the mark. For, as we just explained, the merit of the study of Korbanos has unusual powers, inasmuch as it can transform a prosecution into a defense-counsel. And that is precisely what happened here. Yisrael had been proclaimed guilty of sinning at the party of Achashveirosh or of bowing down to the image that Nevuchadnetzar had set up many years earlier. This proclamation was neutralized however, when Mordechai began learning the laws of the Korbanos with his disciples, and turned into a defense-counsel.

And that is why Haman exclaimed 'Along came your fistful and pushed away my ten thousand Kikar of silver'. Even Haman understood the power of the study of the Korbanos. He must have realized at that stage, that the Heavenly scales were had tipped in favor of K'lal Yisrael. Now he knew why!


Parshah Pearls

A Shogeg is a Sin, Too

"Ve'nod'oh ha'Chatas Asher Chat'u Alehah" (4:14).

The same word occurs in Yeshayah (66:14) "Ve'nod'oh Yad Hashem es avadav, ve'z'o'am es oyvov". In the context of our Pasuk, the Ba'al ha'Turim explains that Pasuk to mean, that G-d is close to His servants who bring their sin-offerings, but is furious with those who don't. This teaches us not to treat sins that we perform be'shogeg (unintentionally) lightly. Because they too, need to be atoned for if one wishes to escape punishment.

This in turn, is based on the difference between transgressing a sin be'o'nes and transgressing it be'shogeg. An o'nes is an act that was performed unintentionally, for which one is not taken to task. A shogeg however, is performed intentionally, and it is the intention to sin that is absent. For that, he cannot consider himself guiltless, because he could have avoided the sin, by studying more, or by being more aware of what he is doing - unlike an o'nes, which is unavoidable.


Alternatively, a shogeg has to pay for the act, which, after all, was intentional, an o'nes, who did not mean to do the act, has nothing to pay for.


The Greater You Are

" ... it is the sin of the community. When a king sins ..." (4:21/22).

The juxtaposition of these two Pesukim comes to teach us that when the community sin, it is the fault of the king, who had the power to rebuke them, but failed to do so.

And we can learn from here, says the Ba'al ha'Turim, that anyone who is able to rebuke a fellow-Jew who sins, and refrains from doing so, must bear the brunt of the sin.

That is why the Gemara says in Shabbos (55a) that, even though the Talmidei-Chachamim of that generation were not guilty of the terrible sins perpetrated by the people, when the time of the Churban arrived, G-d instructed the angel to mark them to be punished first. Because they failed to rebuke the people, they had to bear responsibility for their sins.


The Wealthier You Are

With regard to the sin-offering of the king, the Torah writes "ve'heivi es korbono se'ir-izim" (4:23). It adds the word "es" (which always comes to include something one way or another), to teach the king that he should make sure to bring a nice big, fat goat as his Korban Chatas. Why is that?

Because he personally, would eat the choicest foods each day. Consequently, it would not be proper to bring Hashem anything but the best. It would not be right 'for his own table to be full, whilst his Master's is empty'.


The Bird-Offering

The only two species of birds that could be brought as a bird-offering were grown-up pigeons and young turtle-doves.

Rabeinu Bachye explains why. Chickens, he says, are disqualified from the Mizbei'ach, due to their particularly licentious nature.

Pigeons are eligible because of their unique loyalty to their mates; the female pigeon he explains, will never take a new mate once its first one dies. This trait does not extend to young pigeons, disqualifying them from the Mizbei'ach.

Grown-up male turtle-doves, on the other hand, are very jealous of other males, causing them to separate from their mates. So the Torah disqualifies them from the Mizbei'ach. However, since this trend does not extend to young doves, they are accepted.


He bases a second explanation on Kabalah, which explains that the foundation of pigeons is water, and that of doves, fire. Bearing in mind that water represents Chesed and fire, Din, he explains that the Torah prescribes big pigeons, to hint that Chesed is necessary for the world in large measures, but small doves, because the world can only take Din in small measures.


The Four Sedarim

The Gemara in Bava Metzi'a (114b) relates how, when Eliyahu ha'Navi asked Rabah bar Avuhah whether he had not learned Taharos, he replied that he was not even acquainted with the four Sedarim, let alone Taharos (and Zera'im). By 'the four Sedarim', says Rashi, Rabah bar Avuhah meant Mo'ed, Nashim and Nezikin. The first three are practically applicable nowadays, but what is Kodshim doing in this list? Kodshim he explains, fits into this list due to the Gemara in Menachos which (commenting on a Pasuk in Mal'achi) states 'these are the talmidei-chachamim who study the laws of the Avodah wherever they are. The Torah reckons as if they had actually sacrificed them in the Beis-Hamikdash'.

It is clear from Rashi that the principle of 'paying the bulls with our lips' applies specifically to Kodshim, and does not extend to Zera'im and Taharos.


The Korban Oleh ve'Yored

(adapted from the Seifer ha'Chinuch, Mitzvah 123)

The Korban Oleh ve'Yored, which enabled the sinner to bring his sacrifice according to his means, applied to one of four sins:

1. Tum'as Mikdash (someone who entered - be'Shogeg - the inner parts of the Beis Hamikdash when he was Tamei);

2. Tum'as Kodshim (someone who ate Kodshim - be'Shogeg - when he was Tamei);

3. Shevu'as Bituy (someone who swore that he would or would not, perform a voluntary act, and then he contravened his oath - be'Shogeg);

4. Shevu'as ha'Eidus (someone who denied witnessing something concerning his fellow-Jew, and swore - even be'Meizid - to that effect, when in fact, he had witnessed it -).

Other sinners, whose atonement was prescribed as a sin-offering or a guilt-offering (with the exception of a Metzora) were not given a choice. They had to bring the sacrifice prescribed by the Torah.


All of the above had to bring a sin-offering, consisting of a ewe or a goat in its first year (just as someone who had to bring a regular sin-offering did), assuming they were rich.

A poor man however, brought two pigeons or young turtledoves instead. Neither a rich man who brought birds nor a poor man who brought a ewe or a goat, fulfilled his duty, and was obligated to subsequently bring the correct Korban.


And the Torah gave a further concession to a man who could not even afford birds, allowing him to bring a tenth of an Eifah (forty three and a fifth egg-volumes) of flour (without the oil or frankincense that accompanied most flour-offerings - because it was a sin-offering). Presumably, he too, did not fulfill his duty should he have brought the Korban of a rich man or even of a poor one.


A rich man who set aside money for a lamb, became obligated to bring birds. He would transfer the Kedushah of the money on to the birds that he finally designated, and he could then use the money for whatever he wished. The same applied to a poor man who had designated money for birds, and whose financial situation went from bad to worse.

And a poor man who set aside money for birds and then he became rich, would add money and purchase a lamb or a goat for his Korban.


The Korban Oleh ve'Yored pertained to all of K'lal Yisrael, both to men and to women (except for the transgression of Shevu'as ho'Eidus, which only applied to men, since women could not be witnesses). Even the king and the Kohen Gadol, whose sin-offering differed from that of a Hedyot, had to bring exactly the same set of Korbanos as a Hedyot in this case.



Biy'ur and Viduy Ma'asros
(clearing out one's Ma'asros and the 'Confession')
(Si'man 12)

1. In the fourth year of the Sh'mitah cycle, one is obligated to perform the Mitzvah of clearing out the Ma'asros of the first three years that one still has in one's domain. And in the Sh'mitah year itself, one does likewise with the fruits of the fourth, fifth and six years.

2. When Erev Pesach arrives, one separates any Matanos that have not yet been separated, and subsequently gives Ma'aser Ani to the poor and redeems Ma'aser Sheini. One also transfers the Kedushah of one's Ma'aser coins on to a Perutah and destroy it immediately (in the way that we prescribed above in chapter 6). On this occasion, one may not leave over a P'rutah Chamurah.

3. In the event that the fresh fruit that one purchased during Chol ha'Mo'ed contained Matanos that need to be Ma'asered, one repeats this operation again on the last day of Chol ha'Mo'ed.

4. If for whatever reason, one is unable to transfer the Ma'aser Sheini fruit of this second Biy'ur on to a coin, then one becomes obligated to actually burn it.

5. Someone who fails to perform the Mitzvah of Biy'ur on the day that it falls due, must perform it afterwards, as soon as possible, because on each subsequent day that the crops remain un'Ma'asered, he transgresses a Mitzvas Asei.

6. One is not expected to purchase un'Ma'asered fruit in order to perform the Mitzvah of Biy'ur, and it goes without saying that one should not postpone the separation of one's Ma'asros in order to do so.

7. Besides this Mitzvah of Biy'ur, there is an independent Mitzvah to get rid of Sh'mitah produce, and we already explained in Hilchos Sh'mitah.

8. In the time of the Beis-Hamikdash, one was obligated to fulfill the Mitzvah of 'Viduy Ma'asros' on the last day of Yom-tov. According to the majority of Poskim, the Mitzvah of Viduy only applies when there is a Beis Hamikdash. Add to this the fact that, even when the Beis Hamikdash stood, someone who omitted even one of the details contained in the 'Viduy' did not recite it. Consequently, we nowadays, when most people are not meticulously careful in these matters, and can certainly not vouch for the fact that they have not contravened some of the requirements over the years, we are better off not to recite it.


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