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

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Vol. 15   No. 24

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L'ilui nishmas hakedoshim meyeshivas Mircaz HaRav hy"d
u'l'refua sheleima l'hapetzuim
besoch shear cholei yisrael

Parshas Vayikra
Parshas Zachor

A Covenant of Salt (2)
(see Main Article Vol. 12)
(Adapted mainly from the Yalkut Yitzchak)

The Medrash teaches us that G-d made a covenant with salt already from the six days of the Creation. When, on the second day, G-d divided the waters, He ordered half the water to reside above the sky and half, below. The lower water began to weep (hence their nickname 'the weeping water'), wailing bitterly at having been distanced from their Creator. They actually prepared to force their way Heavenwards, says the Medrash, but G-d scolded them, ordering them to remain where He had placed them. However, seeing as their complaint was in His honour, He compensated them in two ways. Firstly, the upper waters would not be permitted to sing Shirah to Hashem before they had; Secondly, He promised them that they would go on the Mizbei'ach in the form of salt, and for the Mitzvah of Nisuch ha'Mayim on Succos.

In fact, no Korban was allowed to be brought on the Mizbei'ach without salt (even the Korban of wood).


Another Medrash, basing itself on Chazal, who say that the world is divided into three parts, a third desert, a third inhabited land and a third sea, describes how the Sea stood before G-d and asked Him that if the Torah would be given in a desert, and the Beis-Hamikdash built on inhabited land, what role was it (the Sea) destined to play in G-d's service? To which He replied, that Yisrael would bring salt (extracted from sea-water) on the Mizbei'ach, as we explained. A major role indeed, for no Korban was eligible without it, as we explained. And, as Chazal have taught us, the world exists on the merit of the Korbanos.


Rabeinu Bachye (in his Kabbalistic approach), explains the obligation to add salt to the Korbanos in that it comprises the two opposing components, fire and water, which correspond to the Midas ha'Din and the Midas ha'Rachamim (respectively), whose combination enables the world to continue to exist, as Chazal have said 'Hashem saw that the world could not exist on Midas ha'Din alone, so He combined it with the Midah of Rachamim.

The K'li Yakar dwells on the same theme, only he connects it with the Miynim and Apikorsim, many of whom stray from the path when they perceive in the world many opposites, which they claim, cannot possibly have been created by one and the same G-d. Consequently, the fact that salt is made of water and fire, two opposites that under normal circumstances, cannot coexist, is the greatest proof of the refutation of their theory. Indeed, he adds, they represent Midas ha'Din and Midas Rachamim, which Hashem combined to enable the world to exist, as we just explained. And the reason that salt is referred to as 'Bris' is because when one brings a Korban together with salt, it is akin to acknowledging that Hashem is King over everything, even the opposites.


Moreover, says the K'li Yakar, bearing in mind that the Parshah of salt is written in connection with the Korban Minchah, which was eaten by the Kohanim (who did not own property of their own), bringing a Minchah becomes an act of Chesed, which the Torah compares to salt (as the Gemara explains in Kesubos [55b]). And based on the Pasuk in Mishlei (21:3) "To do what is right and just is preferable to bringing a Korban", the Tzedakah that goes with the Korban is greater than the Korban itself.


A similar thought to that of Rabeinu Bachye's is offered by the Seifer ha'Chinuch, who explains that it is the nature of salt to preserve everything, preventing foods from becoming spoilt and going bad. Likewise, he says, Korbanos prevent those who bring them from 'becoming spoilt', as it were, preserving their souls and enabling them to last forever.


Another reason given by the Yalkut Yitzchak himself, is based on the fact that all the commodities that go on the Mizbei'ach are generally eaten with salt. In that case, he says, it would not be befitting to bring to Hashem food in a manner that one would not eat it oneself; or as the Navi Malachi says "Bring it to your own King. Would he accept it … ?"


Whilst in the name of the Remah, he explains that just as salt sweetens and preserves meat, so too, will the sinner's deeds become sweet in the eyes of the Creator, when he spends his money on the Mitzvah (by purchasing a Korban); whereby he performs an act of kindness on behalf of his Soul, rather than his body.

The word 'covenant' is used in connection with both salt and suffering, he adds. For just as, following the B'ris Milah, the destructive angels depart from the baby, so too, do Korbanos bring in their wake forgiveness, causing the destructive angels to depart; and so too, does suffering - provided one accepts it in good grace. Indeed, Chazal have said that had Iyov not lashed out at his pain, the term 'Elokei Iyov' would have come into circulation.

* * *

Parsha Pearls
(Adapted from the Rosh & the Da'as Zekeinim M.T.)

On Call

"And Hashem called to Moshe … " (1:1).

Whenever Hashem spoke to Moshe or commanded him something, He always called him first, Rashi informs us.

The Rosh queries this statement however, in that at the beginning of both Parshas Tetzaveh and of Parshas Matos, Hashem commanded Moshe, yet nothing is said about calling him first?

Nor is there any need to, he answers, as this Pasuk teaches us that that is what happened, even there where it is not mentioned specifically.


Holding One's Tongue

" … me'Ohel Mo'ed leimor" (Ibid).

From here we learn, says the Rosh, that if Reuven tells Shimon something and warns him (?), Shimon is not permitted to spread the information further without express permission from Reuven.


The First Telephone


Rashi also informs that, even though Hashem's Voice is compared to the roar of a lion, nevertheless only Moshe heard it, and nobody else.

How is that possible, asks the Rosh. No problem, he answers, Hakodosh Baruch Hu prepared a path for His Voice, from which it did not deviate. So nobody outside that path was able to hear it.

Sound familiar?


Bring it to the Kohen

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

A man should not ask a Kohen to come and fetch his Korban, as that would not be respectful to Hashem, whose Sheli'ach the Kohen is. Rather the owner must take full responsibility for his Korban and bring it personally to the 'Royal Palace' (Da'as Zekeinim mi'Ba'alei Tosfos).


Three Kinds of Shogeg

" … and it shall be acceptable for him to atone for him" (1:4).

When a person eats Cheilev, says the Da'as Zekeinim M.T., he brings a Chatas. If he is unsure as to whether he ate Cheilev or not, he brings an Asham Taluy. And he brings an Olah to atone for sins of which he is not even aware of having committed.


He Shechts … but … They Bring

" … and he shall Shecht the young bull …and they … shall bring " (Ibid.)

One person generally Shechts on his own, whereas a number of Kohanim sacrifice. That explains, comments the Da'as Zekeinim M.T. as to why the Pasuk writes "and he shall Shecht", but "and they shall bring … sprinkle, arrange and place".


Young & Healthy (1)

" … and he shall Shecht the 'ben ha'bakar' " (1:5).

"ben ha'bakar" implies a young bullock. One should not bring an old and sick animal as a gift to Hashem, just as one would not give such a gift to a human king, as the Pasuk writes in Malachi (1:8) "Bring it to your ruler! Would he accept you … ?" (Da'as Zekeinim M.T.)


Young & Healthy (2)

" … and the sons of Aharon ha'Kohen shall bring the blood … " (Ibid.).

This too, they say, implies that it is young Kohanim who should perform the Avodah, to preclude old men whose hands shake; as the Gemara in Chulin (24b) rules "At which point do Kohanim become disqualified from serving in the Beis-Hamikdash" 'From the moment their hands begin to shake'.


Bulls & Sheep

" … and the sons of Aharon … shall arrange the pieces … " (1:8).

See above 'He Shechts … They Bring'.

Later, in Pasuk 12, the Torah writes "And he shall cut it into pieces and he (singular) shall arrange them … ", because that Pasuk is speaking about a lamb, which is very small and does not therefore require more than one person to bring it.

It is not clear however, asks the Da'as Zekeinim M.T., why, in the previous Pasuk, the Torah then says "and they (plural) shall sprinkle the blood"?


Fit for the King's Table

"And its innards and its legs he shall wash in water" (1:9).

Later in the Parshah (in 4:1 & 16:27), observes the Da'as Zekeinim M.T., the Torah speaks about burning animals whole, including the insides and the dung.

Our Pasuk, they explain, is talking about the Korban Olah, which is burned on the Mizbei'ach, on the King's Table, as it were; in which case it must be cleaned before being served to the King in a dignified manner.

The later Pesukim on the other hand, are referring to the bull of a Kohen Gadol who sinned and the bull and goat of Yom-Kipur, sin-offerings that are burned outside the Beis-Hamikdash, in which case that level of refinement is unnecessary.


Not Enough Blood

" … and its blood shall be squeezed out on the wall of the Mizbei'ach" (1:15).

Since a bird does not possess much blood, says the Da'as Zekeinim M.T., the Din of Kabalas ha'Dam (receiving the blood in a bowl) does not pertain to it, because if it did, there would not be sufficient blood to sprinkle. And that is why the blood needs to be squeezed directly on to the Mizbei'ach. And because placing the blood on the Mizbei'ach is crucial, they explain, the Melikah (killing the bird with the Kohen's thumb-nail) must be performed on top of the Mizbei'ach too, so that the squeezing can be carried out immediately, before all the blood drains away.


Yeast & Honey & Salt

" … because all yeast and all honey you shall not offer up on the Mizbei'ach" (2:11).

The reason for this prohibition, explains the Da'as Zekeinim M.T. is due to the fact that every Korban requires salt (see following Pearl), and yeast and honey do not go well with salt.


The Covenant of Salt

" … and you shall not leave the salt of the covenant of your G-d from off your meal-offerings" (2:13).

This prohibition actually extends to all other Korbanos, too.

The reason for this Mitzvah, explains the Da'as Zekeinim M.T. is because salt is something that lasts. It is a sign that the covenant of the Korbanos will forever atone for K'lal Yisrael's sins (see also Main Article).

The purpose of this atonement, they explain further, is to cleanse the sinner of his sins, and that in turn, will make him careful not to sin again. It is like a person who wears freshly-laundered clothes, who is careful to prevent them from becoming dirty; whereas someone whose clothes are dirty is not particular if they get even dirtier. And so it is with a person who does not receive atonement for his sins. He will have no incentive to stop himself from sinning again and again. This is what the Gemara in Kidushin (20a) means when it states that someone who repeats a sin, thinks that it has become permitted.

Shlomoh ha'Melech too, in his wisdom, warns us in Koheles "At all times your clothes should remain white" (i.e. unstained). And finally, the Da'as Zekeinim M.T. quotes the Mishnah in Makos (23b), which teaches us how Hashem gave us an abundance of Mitzvos in order to grant us much merit … to prevent us from dirtying ourselves with sin.

Indeed, He commanded us many Mitzvos which common-sense dictates that we should keep, just so that we should earn more reward.


Salt on the Bamah

The Gemara in Menachos (21) cites a Machlokes between R. Yehudah and R. Nechemyah as to how to interpret the words "Melach B'ris", whether it is merely 'a covenant said in connection with salt' (R. Yehudah), or whether 'Just like Kehunah is crucial to Korbanos, so too is salt'.

According to Rashi, this Machlokes is merely clinical, and has no ramifications. The Meshech Chochmah however, disagrees. The difference, he explains, will manifest itself with regard to Korbanos brought on a Bamah, which do not require Kehunah, and which therefore, in the opinion of R. Shimon, will not require salt either; whereas according to R. Yehudah, they will. According to R. Shimon, he adds, it becomes clear as to why the Torah inserts the Din of salt in connection with the Korban Minchah - since a Minchah could not be brought on a Bamah.

* * *

(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 117:
Not to Sacrifice Yeast or Honey

It is forbidden to bring on the Mizbei'ach yeast or honey, as the Torah writes in Vayikra (2:11) "because you shall not burn any yeast or honey as a fire-offering to Hashem". And this prohibition is repeated at the beginning of the Pasuk, where it writes "Any Minchah that you bring to Hashem shall not be prepared as Chametz". The word "honey (d'vash)" is a general term incorporating a. bees-honey, b. date-honey (which is what the Torah generally refers to as 'd'vash') and c. the juice of sweet fruits. Also included in the La'av is the prohibition of adding it to the Ketores, as indeed the spice experts declared 'How the honey would enhance the Ketores, if not for the fact that the Torah forbids it'.

A reason for the Mitzvah is … extremely difficult to find, even by way of a small hint. Only since, as the author has already explained, the purpose of this Seifer is to initiate the children and to make the words of Torah palatable to them, to prevent them from going astray when they learn things that they cannot fathom, he presents the following suggestion which, he supposes, will fulfill that role. By precluding Chametz, he explains, one hastens the process of baking considerably, conveying a lesson in 'Z'rizus' (alacrity), swiftness and speed in the service of Hashem, in keeping with the Mishnah in Pirkei Avos (5:20) 'Be swift like an eagle, run like a deer … to perform the will of your Father in Heaven'. And this obligation is even stronger with regard to an individual Minchah than it is to a communal one, since, bearing in mind that in a community, one person encourages the other, despair and laziness are more prevalent regarding an individual than it is regarding a community. That is why the Torah does not object to Chametz with regard to the Sh'tei ha'Lechem, which is brought only once a year on Shavu'os by the Tzibur. On the other hand, it does forbid Chametz with regard to the Lechem ha'Panim, even though it too, is a Korban Tzibur, because it is brought regularly, week by week, so the Torah insists that it must be Matzah.

And with regard to the prohibition of offering honey on the Mizbe'ach we will tell the children that it is to teach them not to run after sweet foods that are pleasing to the palate, as is the way of gluttons and drunkards, but rather to eat food that is beneficial to the body, and that one needs for one's sustenance, to keep one's limbs in good shape. For one should know that the sense of taste is something shameful, and that one should only indulge in it inasmuch as one needs to. Furthermore, the author (citing a reason that he heard) explains that yeast raises itself and likewise honey raises its own temperature, so the Torah distances them from the Mizbei'ach, due to the Pasuk in Mishlei (16:5) "One who is haughty is the abomination of Hashem … ". And finally, citing the Ramban, he explains how G-d rejects yeast because of its power to drastically change the nature of commodities, and honey, because of its extreme sweetness; Both are extremes, and G-d only accepts things that are measured (balanced), as Chazal have said with regard to the Creation 'Hashem combined the trait of mercy together with that of Din, and He created the world.'

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