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

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Vol. 11   No. 23

This issue is sponsored by the Intract Family
l'iluy Nishmos
Yosef b'Rebbi Yitzchak ha'Levi z.l.
Rachel bas Rebbi Ze'ev z.l.

(Shabbos Ha'gadol)

G-d Does Not Need Our Korbanos
(or Doesn't He?)

G-d neither eats nor drinks, explains the Rosh. Consequently, the sages agree that the Korbanos that we bring are for our own benefit, not for His. 'Im titzdak', Chazal have said, 'mah titen lo' (If you are righteous, what do you give Him)? In fact, Korbanos are the proverbial 'cure before the stroke', he says. For when, after sinning, a person sins, brings his Korban and receives atonement for his sin, the knowledge that he is clean from sin prompts him to take care not to sin again.

If, on the other hand, he was not given the opportunity to cleanse himself from his sin, the lack of incentive to remain clean would cause him to sin again and again. Indeed, Chazal have said that when a person sins once and repeats his sin, the sin becomes permitted (in his eyes) (and that one sin leads to another).

This can be compared to someone whose clothes are dirty, who makes no effort to prevent them from becoming dirtier still; the moment however, that they are washed, he takes great care to keep them clean. That is what Sh'lomoh Hamelech means when he writes in Koheles (9:8) "At all times make sure that your clothes are clean".

In keeping with this concept, Rebbi Chananya ben Akashya states in the last Mishnah in Makos, "Hakadosh Baruch Hu wanted to make Yisrael worthy, so he gave them an abundance of Torah, Mitzvos and good deeds with which to occupy themselves", and to keep themselves clean. Indeed, He even included those Mitzvos which hardly needed mentioning, since they would have performed them anyway. Yet He did include them, in order to increase their reward.


Now see what the Seifer ha'Chinuch (Mitzvah 95, in connection with the building of the Beis-Hamikdash) writes about the Mitzvos being for our own benefit.

'It is important to remember that all the Mitzvos that G-d commands us are in order to perfect ourselves, so that we should be ready to receive His blessings, and the good that He has in store for us. This concept emerges from the Pasuk in Eikev, where the Torah specifically writes that all that G-d commands us is only in order to do good to us. And that is also the basic principle of building the Beis-Hamikdash, which is not for the sake of Heaven, but purely for our benefit, as we shall now see.

The building of a House for Hashem in which to Daven and to bring Him Korbanos is principally to prepare our hearts to serve Him. This is not because He needs to dwell among human beings and enjoy their hospitality, since if they were to build Him a house of cedars or of brushwood ... "behold the Heaven and the Heavens of the Heavens cannot contain Him", so why would we think that a little house built by a mere mortal can?

It is well known however, that the House that we are referring to is for our benefit, not for His, to help perfect our bodies, because the bodies reach perfection through good deeds, and increasing them and performing them repeatedly, purifies the heart and cleanses it. And it is the good of His creations that G-d wants. Consequently, He commanded us to fix a place of extreme purity to purify there the thoughts of man and to prepare his heart for Him. He seems to have chosen the location that He did because it is the centre of the world (or perhaps for some other reason).

And by means of the good deeds that we perform there and the pure thoughts that we attain, our own intelligence cleaves with the Divine intelligence.


Interestingly, the Ramban in Tetzaveh (30:46) writes the opposite. Commenting on the Pasuk "And they will know that I am Hashem their G-d who brought you out of the land of Egypt to dwell in their midst", he agrees with the I'bn Ezra, who interprets the Pasuk to mean that the sole purpose of taking Yisrael out of Egypt was in order to dwell in their midst. In fact, he says, that is what G-d meant when He said to Moshe at the burning bush (Har Sinai) "When you leave here, you (Yisrael) will serve G-d at this mountain", a reference, he says, not to Matan Torah, but to the Mishkan.

He therefore concludes that the Shechinah dwells in Yisrael, not for their benefit, but for His. And he quotes a number of Pesukim to bear this out (one of them "Yisrael through whom I will be glorified" [Yeshayah 49:50]). It seems to me that this is precisely the message inherent in the last Mishnah in Pirkei Avos - 'All that Hashem created in His world, He created solely for His glorification, as it is written (Yeshayah 43:7) "All that is called by My Name and whom I created for My glory ... "'

* * *

Parshah Pearls
(Adapted from the Explanation of the Rosh on the Chumash)

Hashem is One

The Toras Kohanim observes that wherever the Torah uses the Name of G-d in the realm of Korbanos, it is always the four-letter Name of Havayah, never Elokim, or any other of His holy Names.

The reason for that, explains the Rosh, is so as not to give the Minim (the heretics) an opportunity to infer that there are two gods (chas ve'shalom). The term 'Elokim' besides being plural, incorporates many facets of deity, which is why the angels as well the judges, are referred to by that name. Consequently, to use it in connection with Korbanos would be an open invitation to the Minim to prove from the Torah the concept of worshipping many gods and to spread it to the rest of the world.

So too, in the realm of Korbanos at least, the Torah confines itself to the Name Havayah, which, as we say in the Sh'ma, implies Oneness in its totality.


Moshe's Objection

"And He called to Moshe ... " (1:1).

The 'Alef' is written small, explains the Rosh, at Moshe's own request. Moshe asked G-d why He chose to write the word "Vayikra" (an expression of esteem), to which G-d replied that the alternative 'Vayikar', would be insulting, since that was the term that He had used with regard to Bi'lam (see Rashi). So Moshe asked that G-d should at least make it clear that he objected to the term, to which He replied that He would write the 'Alef' small.

The question arises why Moshe did not object earlier, when the same word was used at Har Sinai, where the word "Vayikra" appears with a regular size 'Alef', when the Torah writes "Vayikra Hashem le'Moshe min ha'Har el rosh ha'Har, va'ya'al Moshe" (Sh'mos 19:20)?

The answer lies in the following statement of the Rosh, who continues 'We say in the first chapter of Yuma (4b) that the Torah puts 'k'riyah' before 'dibur' ("Vayikra el Moshe, va'yedaber eilav ... "), to teach us that one should not just begin speaking to a person without first calling him (by name).

It is disrespectful to open a conversation with someone without mentioning his name. That is what G-d did when He spoke to Bilam, because Bilam was low in His esteem.

The Pasuk in Yisro however, is not referring to a call before a conversation, but to calling to Moshe from the Heaven, instructing him to ascend Har Sinai. That in itself, is not a mark of esteem, but an expression that one would use, irrespective of the status of the person to whom one was speaking.


The First Telephone Line

"And He spoke to him" (ibid.).

Rashi explains that although the Voice with which G-d spoke to Moshe was loud and clear, nobody else but Moshe could hear it.

Based on a Pasuk in Iyov, the Rosh ascribes this to the fact that when G-d speaks, His words are 'weighed', they travel along the specific path that He designates for them. Consequently, they reach the ears of the person or the persons who are meant to hear them, and those of nobody else.

This might have been difficult to conceive, until the invention of the telephone. Today, every child can understand it.


Hashem's Humility
- Yisrael's Love

" A man who brings ... a Korban to G-d, from the ... cattle and the sheep ... " (1:2).

"the cattle and the sheep" comes to exclude chayos (wild animals, such as deer) from being brought on the Mizbei'ach, as Rashi explains.

The Toras Kohanim learns from here G-d's humility, in that He did not trouble His children to go to the forest in search of wild animals to sacrifice (like Yitzchak instructed Eisav to do).

This reason certainly justifies the inclusion of beheimos (domesticated animals) in the realm of Korbanos. But why did G-d have to disqualify chayos entirely? Why did He not leave his children the option of bringing them, should they so wish? Perhaps it is because He knew that if He were to do so, His children, in their love for Him, would choose the more difficult option, and take to the forests to bring Him the choicest venison. So He restricted the Korbanos to beheimos only, in order to spare them the trouble.


Designated and Worshipped

"min ha'bokor", comes to exclude an animal that has been designated for Avodah-Zarah, and "min ha'tzon", one that has actually been worshipped (Temmurah 28b).

Why, asks the Rosh, does the Torah find it necessary to disqualify an animal that has been worshipped, seeing as it already became forbidden when it was designated?

And he answers that designation alone does not disqualify the animal, unless it is accompanied with an act. "min ha'Tzon therefore, is needed to forbid an animal that has been worshipped even where no act was performed when designating it.


Doing it with Dignity

"He shall bring it to the entrance of the Ohel Mo'ed" (1:3).

If not for this Pasuk, a person would be able to give money to the Kohen and ask him to purchase a Korban on his behalf, something which the Torah considers disrespectful. The Torah therefore demands that he goes to the trouble of purchasing the animal that he wishes to sacrifice, and takes it to the Mishkan. That is Kavod Shamayim!


No Naches from the Great

" ... and he shall remove from it all its cheilev and burn it (the bull of the communal sin-offering) on the Mizbei'ach" (4:19).

Neither here, the Da'as Zekeinim mi'Ba'alei Tosfos observes, nor by the sin-offering of the Kohen Gadol, nor by that of the king, does the Torah use the expression "rei'ach nicho'ach la'Hashem", like it does by the sin-offering of an ordinary individual (Pasuk 31).

This is because when an ordinary person sins, the pleasure G-d derives from the fact that the man does Teshuvah and atones for his sin balances (perhaps even outweighs) His anger at the man having sinned.

But when a great man (and certainly a community) sins, He is more particular, and derives no naches, even if the sinner does Teshuvah.


Against that, Rashi, commenting on the unusual expression used in connection with the king "Asher nasi yecheta" (Pasuk 22), explains 'How fortunate is the generation whose king undertakes to atone for the sins that he transgressed in error (how much more so the sins that he transgressed on purpose).

There are two sides to every coin.


When a King Sins

"When a king sins, and transgresses one of the Mitzvos of Hashem his G-d ..." (4:22).

With regard to a king, the Torah writes Hashem his G-d, because a king has no master to whom he is responsible other than G-d.

Likewise, the Torah writes in Shoftim (17:19), in connection with the special Seifer-Torah that the king had to write for himself "in order that he shall learn to fear Hashem his G-d". Unlike others, who could learn Yir'as Shamayim from yir'as adam (fear of man), he could only learn it directly. For that, he needed a special Seifer-Torah, over and above that of everybody else.

* * *

(Adapted from the Minchas Chinuch)

Mitzvah 15:
The Mitzvah of Bringing an Olah

To bring the Olah (burned-offering) in the prescribed manner, as the Torah writes in Vayikra (1:3) "Im Olah Korbano ... ". Discussing reasons for the Korbanos, the author refers to what he wrote in Terumah (in connection with the Mitzvah of constructing a House for G-d, but covering the Mitzvah of Korbanos too) - When a person sins, he is obligated to declare 'I have sinned, and I will not do it again!' However, that is not enough. Chazal have said that words cannot override actions. Likewise, in order to negate one's sinful actions, another action is required. It is performing the major act of going to the trouble and the expense of picking an animal from his flock and taking it to the Kohen in the Beis-Hamikdash, and then performing there what is required of him regarding the ritual of the Korban, that will convince him of the evil that he perpetrated, and ensure that he does not repeat it.

And he cites the Ramban, who elaborates still further. When a person sins, the Ramban explains, his sin generally incorporates action, words and thoughts. Leaning his hands on the Korban atones for the action, confessing his sin, for the words, and burning the stomach and the kidneys (the limbs that govern thoughts and desires), the thoughts. Burning the legs (with reference to the Olah, which comes to atone because the legs of a sin-offering are eaten by the Kohen), corresponds to the hands and the feet of the sinner, as these are the principle limbs that perpetrate the sin, and sprinkling the blood on the Mizbei'ach, to the Soul (which is synonymous with the blood) of the sinner (since a person sins with his Soul and with his body together). In this way the person thinks whilst bringing his Korban, that what is happening to the animal would really be happening to him, were it not for the fact that G-d in His mercy accepts the animal in his place, its blood instead of his blood, its Soul instead of his Soul, and its major limbs instead of his major limbs. As for the gifts that are given to the Kohanim, they are to sustain the teachers of Torah, to encourage them to Daven on his behalf.

Furthermore, based on the same concept, G-d commanded us to bring Him things that the heart of man desires, such as meat, wine and bread, in order to arouse the heart of man to a greater extent when he deals with them. Whilst the poor man brings some of the flour which 'his eyes and his heart long for all day'.

In addition, the idea of bringing an animal to atone for one's sin reminds him that whereas the one basic distinction between his Korban and himself is the fact that the former does not possess Seichel (intelligence), he does. It causes him to realize that, after having sinned, there remains little difference between himself and the animal that he is now bringing. That is why he has been commanded to take a physical body like his own, to the location that has been chosen because of its extreme spirituality, and to destroy it there by burning it, as a reminder that the physical body without Seichel is valueless.

And this will in turn, lead him to rejoice with the portion of Seichel that G-d granted him, and learn to use it to its full potential, and avoid sin. For when the body is drawn after the Seichel, it will merit eternal life.

In this way, a man's sins will be forgiven, though only what he transgresses be'Shogeg. When he transgresses be'Meizid, thoughts alone such as these will not suffice to chastise him and make good the evil that he performed. For that, Malkos or death are required.

Even though these reasons appear to apply exclusively to obligatory sacrifices that one brings for having sinned, the fact is that once a person realizes that the idea of a Korban is to elevate the Soul and to relegate the body, they actually extend to all Korbanos.

Some of the Dinim of the Mitzvah - Anyone is eligible to Shecht the Olah in the Azarah, though the receiving of the blood and subsequent Avodos can only be performed by a Kohen. The Kohen sprinkles the blood, flays the animal and cuts it up into complete limbs, in the process of which he removes the Gid ha'Nasheh. After washing the insides, he then burns the pieces on the Mizbei'ach, including the wool on the head of lambs, the hair on the beard of goats, the bones, the sinews, the horns and the hooves, as long as they are still attached (but once any of these has become severed, it is not placed on the Mizbei'ach independently).

Chazal have said that a lamb of a Korban Tzibur requires six Kohanim to carry its pieces on to the Mizbei'ach, and an ox, twenty-four. The equivalent by a Korban Yachid requires less.

This Mitzvah applies to male Kohanim alone, but only when the Beis-Hamikdash is standing. A Kohen who fails to conform with these requirements when they are applicable, has transgressed a Mitzvas Asei.

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