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

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Vol. 14   No. 23

This issue is sponsored
l'iluy Nishmas
R. Yehudah ben R. Aharon z.l.
by his family

Parshas Vayikra

Thoughts on the Korban Olah
(Adapted from the Yalkut Yitzchak)

The reason that the Torah begins the Parshah of Korbanos with the Olah (the burned-offering), says R. Bachye, is based on the fact that it comes to atone (inter alia) for sinful thoughts. And it is because a person's thoughts precede his actions that the Torah opens with the Olah.


In discussing the Korban Olah, the Pasuk first deals with that Korban of a bull, then with a sheep or a goat, then a bird (a pigeon or a dove) and finally with a flour-offering. There too, R. Bachye explains the order, ascribing it to the fact that it is generally a wealthy person who brings a bull, an average person, a sheep and a poor person, who brings a bird (Strangely, R. he makes no mention of the flour-offering). Consequently, the Torah obliges the wealthy man, who sins constantly because he places his trust in his wealth, to bring a bull, to break his pride. Whilst it accepts a sheep from the average man, who sins less frequently, and a bird from the poor man, who is humble and whose heart is already broken in his misery. It therefore transpires that each person's Korban conforms to the depth of his respective sin.


The fact that a Korban Olah, as its name suggests, is completely burned, the commentaries explain, can be compared to a friend of the king and his enemy who both brought him a gift of food, the former as a sign of affection, the latter, to atone for his sins. What did the king do? To show his appreciation of his friend, he made a point of eating the entire gift himself, whereas when it came to the gift of his enemy, he ate a little, to demonstrate that he pardoned him, at least partially, for his having sinned. The remainder, he distributed among his servants.

And so it is here. An Olah, brought by a person who, after intending to sin, is immediately filled with remorse, and who refrains from putting the sin into practice, is considered 'a friend of the King'; so the King (Kevayachol) eats the Korban Himself. A Chatas, on the other hand, is brought by a person who not only thought of sinning, but who actually perpetrated the sin, and only then did he perform Teshuvah and bring his Korban to Hashem. He is considered (at least until his kaparah is complete) an enemy of Hashem, who therefore eats part of the sinner's Korban, distributing the rest to His servants, the Kohanim. Once the Kohanim have eaten however, the owner is fully acquitted (see 'The Mitzvos', Mitzvah 102).

The Shelamim (a peace-offering), says the Gemara, is in a category of its own, since it does not come to atone for any sin. The Shelamim, as its name suggests, comes to promote peace in the world. Accordingly, it is distributed among all parties, some (the Eimurim that go on the Mizbei'ach) to Hashem, some (the chest and the right calf) to the Kohanim, and some (the bulk of the animal) to the owner who brought it, like a group of friends, who sit down to partake of a meal together.


Another reason to explain the above distinction between an Olah and a Chatas is offered by the Nachalas Binyamin. As we know, when somebody sins, he tips not only his own scales, but the scales of his town and even of the whole world to the side of guilt, and they will all have to suffer on account of his sin. And the basis for this is the well-known principle that all of Yisrael are responsible for one another. Consequently, it is only when he sins factually that others must suffer for his sins. But not when he sins in thought alone, since nobody can know another person's thoughts, in which case nobody else will be held responsible for them.

That is why when someone brings a Chatas for having sinned in deed, he brings a Chatas, part of which is brought on the Mizbei'ach, to atone for the part of his sin which he perpetrated against G-d, and part of it is eaten by the Kohanim, to atone for the part of his sin which affects man.

When he brings an Olah, on the other hand, the thoughts for which the Olah atones do not affect anybody else, therefore the entire animal is burned on the Mizbei'ach, to atone for his sin against G-d.

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Parshah Pearls

So That's Why Nadav & Avihu Sinned!

"And He called to Moshe ... " (1:1). The Voice reached Moshe's ears, Rashi

explains, but nobody else was able to hear.

With this, says the Toras Moshe, we can understand why Nadav and Avihu entered the Heichal without permission on the eighth day of the Milu'im, despite the fact that even Moshe did not enter before being called (as Rashi explains in this Pasuk). Not having heard Hashem calling Moshe, they thought that Moshe had gone in of his own accord, and assumed that they could do likewise.


Bringing Oneself

"When a man brings from you a Korban for Hashem from the animals ... " (1:2).

The Eizor Eliyahu points out that grammatically, the Torah ought to have written 'Odom mikem ki yakriv' (rather than "Odom ki yakriv mikem) Korban la'Hashem". No doubt it is this inverted phrase that prompts the Seforno to comment that the real Korban that a person brings to Hashem is what he gives of himself - with reference to the humility and broken-heartedness that accompany his Korban.


The Ramban explains that the essence of a Korban is when the owner sees how the blood of the animal is sprinkled on the sides of the Mizbei'ach and the limbs are burned on its top, he realizes that this is what really ought to be happening to him, on account of his sins. And it is only thanks to Hashem's Chesed that He accepts his Korban in lieu of himself. And that is what the Torah means when it writes "When a man brings from you a Korban ... " (really you are the one who should be going on the Mizbei'ach) only "a Korban for Hashem from the animal ... " (He accepts the animal instead of you).


Hashem Hates Stolen Goods

"And he shall remove its crop together with its intestines" (1:16).

The reason for this, says Rashi, is because birds eat what they steal, and Hashem hates theft particularly in the realm of Korbanos, as the Gemara informs us in Succah (30a).

The Alshich points out that the Torah chooses to teach us this principle specifically with regard to a bird Korban, to stress that even a poor man, who is generally the one to bring a bird-offering, should not for one moment think that he is permitted to steal, in order to bring Hashem a Korban; for as the old saying goes 'The end does not justify the means'.


The Torah Said So ... That's Why!

"Every Minchah that you bring to Hashem, do not make Chametz; for all yeast and all honey (fruit-juice) you shall not bring as a fire-offering to Hashem!" (2:11).

In a B'raisa cited by the Yerushalmi, bar Kapara states that if one were to add a Kurtuv (a tiny measure) of honey to the daily incense, people would be overcome by its fragrance. And why does one in fact not mix in honey? Because the Torah says "for all yeast and all honey (fruit-juice) you shall not bring as a fire-offering to Hashem!"

We learn a major lesson from bar Kapara, says R. Yosef Chayim Sonnenfeld. Now surely, he points out, if people would not have survived the smell of the incense mixed with honey, then that would be reason enough not to add honey. Yet we do not add honey, first and foremost, because the Torah tells us not to. That is the reason that overrides all other reasons.


Similarly, when a Ba'al Tokei'a was once asked which of R. Sa'adyah Ga'on's ten reasons he had in mind when blowing the Shofar, he replied 'None of them. I have in mind to fulfill the Command of My Creator, the most noble reason of all'.


A Slip of the Pen

"It is an Asham (a guilt-offering) ... " (5:5).

Rashi, citing a Toras Kohanim, writes "Asham Hu" - to incorporate an Asham Shifchah Charufah in the Din of a ram in its second year ("ben Sh'tei Shanim"), and he goes on to preclude an Asham Nazir and an Asham Metzora (which the Torah refers to as a lamb).

But is the first ruling not obvious, asks the Rosh? Seeing as the Torah describes the Asham Shifchah Charufah as a ram, of course it is in its second year (just like all rams are)?

In fact, answers the Rosh, Rashi's quote of the Toras Kohanim is a printing error. What the Toras Kohanim actually says is that "Asham Hu" comes to incorporate the Asham Shifchah Charufah in the Din that requires an Asham to be worth two Shekalim (not 'ben Sh'tei Shanim', but 'ben Sh'nei Shekalim').


A Common Fallacy

"A person who sins and deals falsely with G-d ... and he denies to his fellow-man" (5:21).

Many people maintain that the most important thing is to be good to one's fellow-man, insisting that the order of the day is the Mitzvos she'Bein Odom la'Chaveiro (between man and man). The Mitzvos she'Bein Odom la'Mokom (between man and G-d) are not significant.

The truth of the matter is however, that those very same people generally end up denigrating their fellow-man and ignoring the Mitzvos that concern them.

And that is hinted in the Pasuk here, says the Magid R. Peish.

"A person who sins and deals falsely with G-d", will eventually end up 'denying to his fellow-man'.


Money is the Root of All Evil

" ... or if he finds a lost article and denies it ... on one of these things which man does to sin thereby" (5:22).

Firstly, says R. Shlomoh Kluger, the Yeitzer-ha'Ra gets a person to sin in the area of money, an area which is particularly prone to temptation, due largely to the fact that one can so often find an excuse as to why somebody's else's money is permitted. Then, once he has stolen, he automatically denies it, and goes on to swear that he is innocent and to commit other sins - Bein Odom la'Mokom. For so Chazal have said 'One sin leads to another'.

* * *


'And it was when Moshe finished erecting the Mishkan, he thought it over and arrived at the conclusion that if Har Sinai was anointed only temporarily, and was sanctified for only three days, and he was not able to ascend it until the Voice of Hashem called him, then was it not obvious that he was forbidden to enter the Mishkan, which was anointed permanently and whose sanctity was forever, until Hashem had called him? So the Voice of Hashem called him from the Mishkan ... ' (1:1).


'Speak with the B'nei Yisrael and say to them "A man that brings from among you (but not from a Mumar [an apostate] who worships idols), a Korban to Hashem, a Kasher animal from the cattle or the sheep (and not from the wild beasts) shall you bring your Korban" (1:2).


'And he shall lean his right hand forcefully on the head of the Olah, so that it should be accepted for him to atone for him' (1:4).


'And the Shochet shall Shecht the bull in the slaughtering area; then the sons of Aharon shall bring its blood (to one of the corners of the Mizbei'ach) in a receptacle, and sprinkle it via the bowl around the Mizbei'ach (i.e. on the north-east and south-western corners), the Mizbei'ach which is situated at the entrance of the Ohel Mo'ed (i.e. the Heichal)' 1:5.


' ... the twelve elders of the community, who were appointed princes over the twelve tribes, shall lean their hands forcefully on the head of the ox ... ' (4:15).


' ... a man who sins, who hears the voice of an oath of a curse, and he is a witness or he sees somebody transgressing that oath or if he knows that his friend transgressed the oath, or the curse, and he fails to tell, he will receive his punishment' (5:1).


'And the second bird he shall make an Olah, like the Din of the previous bird that was chosen as a Chatas, and not like the Din of a Chatas of a bull or a lamb ... (see Rashi), and the Kohen shall atone for him (5:10).

* * *

(Adapted from the Seifer ha'Chinuch)

Please bear in mind that the rulings in this article reflect the opinion of the Seifer ha'Chinuch and are not necessarily Halachah.

Mitzvah 102:
To Eat the Flesh of Sin and Guilt-Offerings

The Kohanim are commanded to eat the flesh of some of the Korbanos, such as that of a Chatas and an Asham (which belong to the category of Kodshei Kodshim), about which the Torah writes in Tetzaveh (29:33) "And those who are atoned by them shall eat them". The Gemara in Pesachim (59b) explains this to mean that when the Kohanim eat them, the owner receives his atonement.

The author will explain elsewhere the details of how a Chatas and an Asham are prepared, and the location and times of their eating, according to the Torah's specifications. The general rule is that all the flesh of these Korbanos is eaten by male Kohanim in the Courtyard of the Azarah, but not the Eimurim (the fat-pieces and the accompanying limbs, which are burned on the Mizbei'ach). In any event, the owner receives nothing of these Korbanos. The Gemara also defines there in Pesachim what is meant by Eimurim. Included in the Mitzvah is the obligation to eat the parts of Kodshim Kalim that they receive, and Terumah etc. (which are known as Kodshei ha'Gevul). These categories however, do not compare with the Mitzvah of eating their portion of Chatas and Asham in that, whereas the latter completes the atonement of the owner of the Korban (as we explained earlier) eating Kodshim Kalim and Terumah has no effect on the original owner at all.

A reason for the Mitzvah ... is based on the concept that the purpose of the Korbanos is to prepare our thoughts and our motives for the good, whilst eliminating our lustful instincts; and to magnify and to strengthen our Seichel (intelligence) in the realm of Mitzvos. That is why the Torah commands us to behave in all matters that concern the Beis-Hamikdash and the Korbanos, with dignity, aggrandizement and honour, so that, whenever we go there, we should be imbued with a spirit of awe and humility - to the point that it affects us whenever we think about it, even when we are not actually there. And this scenario is enhanced by the fact that the Korban on which someone's atonement hinges is eaten by those who serve there, and not by their servants or their animals, or by strangers who purchase it from them. Similarly, the purpose is better achieved when the Korban is eaten in a holy location, and as little as possible is left over from it, so that one should not be negatively affected by its repugnant smell when it goes off. All this is symbolical of greatness and importance. The author will discuss some of the Dinim of the Mitzvah in the relevant location, as is his way.

This Mitzvah to applies male Kohanim when the Beis-Hamikdash stands. A Kohen who contravenes it by failing to eat the portion that he receives in the allotted time, has negated a Mitzvas Asei, and he will also be punished for depriving the owner of his Kaparah, which is dependent upon it, as we explained.

The Ramban does not list this Mitzvah as an independent one. In his opinion, it is merely a detail in the Mitzvah of Korbanos in general, where Hashem Yisbarach is informing us who eats them and to whom they belong. The truth of the matter is however, that the owner's atonement depends on it.


Mitzvah 103:
To Burn the Ketores

The Kohanim are commanded to burn the Ketores twice a day, on the golden Mizbei'ach, as the Torah writes in Tetzaveh (30:7) "And Aharon shall burn on it the Ketores of spices each morning when he prepares the Menorah he shall burn it. And when he kindles the Menorah in the evening ... ". It is a Mitzvah to manufacture each year the amount of Ketores that is needed for that year (368 Manah). And its manufacture and the daily Mitzvah that is performed with it is considered one Mitzvah, seeing as it is prepared exclusively for the purpose of burning it. In spite of the fact that the Torah presents them in two place (the former in Ki-Sisa [30:34], the latter, here), the Poskim unanimously agree, that they are really only one Mitzvah, as we explained. They argue however, over another point. The Rambam lists the morning Ketores and the evening Ketores as one Mitzvah, whereas the Ramban counts them as two, as he proves in his Seifer.


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