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

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Vol. 16   No. 23

This issue is sponsored
for the recovery of all the sick in Yisrael.
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Refu'ah Shleimah.

Parshas Vayikra

Yeast and Honeym

Quoting the Rambam, R. Bachye attributes the prohibition of burning yeast or honey on the Mizbei'ach to the custom of the gentiles to sacrifice all their offerings in the form of Chametz and to add honey to all of them. That is why it is forbidden for us to bring a Korban from them. It is comparable to the prohibition of sacrificing on a Matzeivah (a Mizbei'ach made of one stone), which was highly popular in the days of the Avos, but was later rejected, because the gentiles used it extensively for their Korbanos, at which point it became forbidden to us (see Rashi in Parshas Shoftim 16:22).

And it is following the same trend of thought that the Rambam explains the Torah's insistence that no Minchah (or Korban may be brought on the Mizbei'ach without salt. The gentiles abhorred the idea of salting their sacrifices, he explains, because salting them drains the blood, and they were meticulous about not allowing a single drop of blood going to waste, since the blood is the focus of the entire Korban. That is why the Torah turned it into a Mitzvah for us.

(see also Parshah Pearls, 2:13).


R. Bachye, like the Ba'al ha'Turim that we cited in 'Highlights ', attributes the prohibition of yeast and honey to the fact that they are compared to the Yeitzer-ha'Ra. Only he adds that bearing in mind that the Korbanos come to atone for our sins, it would not be right to add yeast and honey, seeing as it is the Yeitzer ha'Ra, which they symbolize, that causes us to sin in the first place. How can we then use the items that symbolize sin to atone for sin (much in the same way as Chazal have said 'The prosecutor cannot become the defense-counsel!'

And he elaborates further by pointing to the same concept as the underlying reason for the prohibition of eating Chametz on Pesach. The Korban Pesach, he explains, comes to atone for the sin of the Avodah-Zarah that they worshipped in Egypt, and one needs to distance oneself from the Yeitzer ha'Ra (and whatever symbolizes it), in order not to return to that terrible sin.

Interestingly, the Yeitzer ha'Ra is often referred to as 'the yeast in the dough', mainly with regard to the Yeitzer ha'Ra of Ga'avah (pride).

Honey too, he explains, represents the Yeitzer ha'Ra of desire (as we explained in 'Highlights '), adding that this is symbolized by woman (whose Gematriyah is equivalent to that of "d'vash" [honey]), as we see with Adam and Chavah, where Adam blamed his sin on 'the woman that G-d gave him', by which he really meant the Yeitzer ha'Ra that G-d placed inside him. And Chavah for her part, replied that it was the snake who tempted her to eat, from which we see the close connection between 'the woman, the snake and enmity', R. Bachye concludes his point.

(In any event, it is obvious that the author is speaking exclusively about relationships that are illicit (where the woman becomes a 'kenegdo' and not an 'eizer' who helps man to grow).

Furthermore, he says, in light of what we just said, to bring yeast or honey (which actually incorporates any juices other than wine and oil) together with one's Korban, would be akin to 'Toveling in a Mikvah whilst holding a Sheretz (a rodent) in one's hand'.


According to the Kabalah, R. Bachye explains, it is not fitting to bring yeast and honey on the Mizbei'ach, because all Korbanos are brought to Hashem (the Name of Havayah) which represents Midas ha'Rachamim, which in turn, is a combination of Midas Chesed and Midas ha'Din, whereas yeast and honey (both extremes in their own right) represent Midas ha'Din alone. And it is for the same reason that the Menachos may not be baked as Chametz (seeing as like yeast, it is symbolical of Midas ha'Din). See also Parshah Pearls 'The Golden Medium'.


And it is precisely for this reason that salt is permitted - in fact, no Korban may be brought without it; because salt is a combination of water (Midas ha'Rachamim) and fire (Midas ha'Din), as we will explain there.

* * *

Parshah Pearls

When G-d Calls a Navi

We can learn the importance of being called, says R. Bachye, from the angels, about whom the Navi Yeshayah writes "and one called to the other, and said ".

When G-d calls a Navi, he explains, it bears witness to three major events, which serve as the root of the Torah and the cornerstone of our faith - The Creation of the world, the giving of the Torah to Yisrael and Techi'as ha'Meisim (the Revival of the Dead), which took place at the beginning of the creation, in the middle of the world's existence and at the end (respectively). Each one of these proves its predecessor; because when prophesy is revealed to a prophet it is indicative of Hashgachah (Divine Supervision), which is in turn, a sign that the world was created. And since the world was created and Hashgachah abounds there, it is befitting that the Torah should be given to the people, through which they will earn themselves 'Techiyas ha'Meisim', which is the ultimate pleasure and the final reward at the end of time.

By each of the three above events we find the term 'K'ri'ah' mentioned - Matan Torah in Yeshayah (48:12); The Creation of the world in Yeshayah (48:13) and Techiyas ha'Meisim in Tehilim (50:1 [The author himself elaborates in great detail]).


In conclusion, R. Bachye points out that the Creation of the world is mentioned in Seifer Bereishis, Matan Torah, in Seifer Sh'mos and Techiyas ha'Meisim in Seifer Vayikra (see footnote).

And when Seifer Vayikra begins with 'K'ri'ah', it represents all three, since, in any event, it has mentioned it by each one independently, as we just explained.


The Golden Medium

" because you shall not burn any yeast or honey as a fire-offering for Hashem" (2:11).

See end of main article.

The footnote, citing the Rikanti, explains R. Bachye's Kabbalistic approach a little differently. According to him, the Korbanos come to appease ('to blend the Midos peacefully'). Therefore, it would not be befitting to add anything that is extreme - such as yeast, which, in its sourness, represents the extreme of Midas ha'Din, or honey, which is extreme in sweetness. For so Chazal say about the Creation (see Rashi at the end of the first Pasuk of Bereishis) 'When G-d saw that the world would not be able to survive with Midas ha'Din alone, He combined it with Midas ha'Rachamim and created it'. Indeed, this is the root of Sholom. Commenting on the Pasuk "He makes peace on high", the Chachamim explain how Micha'el (the Angel of Chesed) is made of water, and Gavriel (the Angel of Din) is made of fire, yet they coexist in perfect harmony. And that is what the Korbanos are meant to achieve.

(See what R. Bachye himself writes in the following Pearl).


No Korban Without Salt

"And all your Minchah offerings you shall salt with salt, nor may you withhold the salt of the covenant of your G-d from all your Korbanos " (2:13).

R. Bachye cites the Pasuk in Mal'achi (1:8) "Bring it (a blemished) animal to your king! Will he accept it ?"

This is a major principle that encompasses all gifts that we offer to G-d. If a human king would not accept it, how can one expect the King of Kings to do so? Indeed, how can one have the Chutzpah to bring before Him something that one would not bring before a human king?

That explains why, seeing as we would not eat our food unsalted, nor would we present it to a king as a gift, we should not bring it on the Mizbei'ach either.


This is what the author writes 'al Derech ha'Kabalah':

Salt comprises two opposing properties - water and fire. It is the heat of the fire that causes the water to dry and congeal, before turning into salt. That being the case, salt in itself contains the combined powers of water and of fire, which correspond to the two Midos on which the world exists, Midas ha'Rachamim and Midas ha'Din.

(See previous Pearl [2:11]). Hence the Torah writes "nor may you withhold the salt of the covenant of your G-d from all your Korbanos ".


Gezel & Oshek

"If a person will sin and commit a treachery against Hashem by lying to his friend regarding a pledge or a loan or a robbery (gezel) or by defrauding (oshak) his friend, or if he found a lost item and denies it and he swears falsely " (5:20).

Based on the Gemara in Bava Metzi'a 111a, R. Bachye explains the difference between gezel and oshek. 'Gezel', he says, is where the sinner admits that he stole the article only he refuses to return it; whereas 'oshek' refers to someone who claims that he stole but that he already returned it, or that he paid his employee, when really he didn't.


Who Brings a Korban for a Meizid?

"And it shall be if he sins and is guilty, then he shall return the theft and he shall bring his guilt-offering to Hashem " (23-25).

The Torah begins the Parshah with the words "And a soul that sins (Nefesh ki secheto)". It does not add the word 'bi'shegogoh' like it does in connection with every other Parshah of Korban that is brought to atone for a sin, indicating that the Torah is referring to someone who sinned on purpose, and not be'shogeg, as in most other cases of Korban.

As a matter of fact, there are only four cases of sinners who bring a Korban be'Meizid: 1. Someone who has relations with a Shifchah Cana'anis; 2. A Nazir who became Tamei during his term of Nezirus; 3. A witness who swears falsely that he does not have the necessary information to testify; 4. Someone who swears falsely that he was not given a security to look after (see also previous Pearl).


Returning What One Stole

"And he shall return the article that he stole" (Ibid).

The last words teach us on the one hand, that as long as the stolen article is still intact, the culprit is obligated to return it, and on the other, that if it is not, or if it has been changed into something different from what it was, one can fulfill one's obligation with money to the value of the stolen object.

And from the same words we learn that if, after he has stolen the article, its value decreases, he remains obligated to pay for the article according to its value at the time when he stole it.

* * *


" and the Kohen shall burn all of it (the bull of the burned-offering) on the Mizbei'ach " (1:9).

The equivalent Pasuk (13) regarding the lamb of the burned-offering writes " and the Kohen shall bring all of it and burn it on the Mizbei'ach", observes the Ba'al ha'Turim.

This is because the small size of the lamb enabled the Kohen to bring it all to the Mizbei'ach and to burn it in one go, something that was not possible to do with a bull.


"All Menachos (flour-offerings) that you bring to Hashem shall not be made as Chametz" (2:11).

This is because the Yeitzer-ha'Ra is compared to Chametz, explains the Ba'al ha'Turim. And it is because the Yeitzer ha'Ra appears to his victims as sweet as honey that the Torah likewise warns against bringing honey on the Mizbei'ach.

Presumably yeast symbolizes Ga'avah (pride) and honey, Ta'avah (desire [see also Parshah Pearls 2:11]).


"And all your Minchah Offerings you shall salt with salt " (2:13).

The Torah mentions the word 'salt' (as a noun) three times in this Pasuk, says the Ba'al ha'Turim. This is because salt for the Korbanos was placed in three locations - in the Lishkas ha'Melech ('the salt-room), on the ramp and on the Mizbei'ach itself.


"Takriv melach" (you shall bring salt) Ibid.

These word, says the Ba'al ha'Turim, have the same Gematriyah as 'Zeh yovi melach mi'shel zibur' (He shall bring salt from public funds).


"And if one's Korban is a Peace-Offering, should he bring a bull, if it is a male or if it is a female, he shall bring it without a blemish before Hashem" (3:1).

The equivalent Pasuk (6) regarding a lamb uses the words "a male or (o) a female". The word "o" comes to include a 'Palgas', a lamb between the ages of twelve and thirteen months - and whereas the word "o" is sometimes used to include, the alternative "im" does not.

In the case of a goat (in Pasuk 12), the Torah says nothing at all about gender; the Ba'al ha'Turim explains that this is because goats tend to give birth to a male and a female simultaneously, in which case, most people would sacrifice the male, leaving the female to provide one's family with babies and with milk and cheese.


"And the sons of Aharon shall burn it on the Mizbei'ach " (3:5).

Regarding the equivalent Din by the lamb, the Pasuk (11) writes "And the Kohen shall burn it ", the Ba'al ha'Turim observes; and he answers that this is because due to its size, the bull required many Kohanim to burn it, whereas the lamb required only one or two.

* * *

(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 129:
The Asham Vaday

It is a Mitzvah to bring the designated Korban for specific sins, as we will describe them. This Korban is called an Asham Vaday (a Guilt-offering that is brought for sins that one definitely committed), and it consists of a ram that is worth at least two Sela'im. In some of the cases concerned, this Korban is brought irrespective of whether the culprit committed the sin be'Meizid or be'Shogeg, whereas, in some of them, it is only if he committed them be'Shogeg. One of the sins that requires an Asham Vaday is where Reuven unlawfully has money worth a P'rutah or more belonging to Shimon (i.e. he either stole it from the owner or robbed it, or it is money that remains from money that the latter deposited with him or lent him, or that is theirs jointly in partnership). In a nutshell, the Korban Asham pertains to anything that, if one were to admit having it, one would be obligated by law to return it. If in fact, the person from whom the defendant stole or robbed, or his next of kin, or whoever is appointed by him to claim on his behalf claims that article, and the latter denies having it and swears falsely to that effect, when he repents and is genuinely sorry for what he did, he must return the stolen article to its owner and bring the prescribed Korban Asham to atone for his sin, besides the extra fifth that he must add to the principle and pay to the owner, as the Torah writes in Vayikra (5:21) "A soul that sins and deals falsely with Hashem, regarding a deposit ". Why, asks R. Akiva, does the Torah write "deals falsely with Hashem"? It is because when somebody lends money, he generally does so with witnesses. Consequently, should the borrower subsequently deny that the loan took place, his denial casts aspersions on the witnesses' integrity; in a case where the loan took place without witnesses however, then his denial aims at the 'Third Party' - the Shechinah, who witnessed the transaction. That is why the Torah writes " and he deals falsely with Hashem and he denies his friend ". The Pasuk continues "And it shall be when he sins and is guilty (i.e. that he realizes that he sinned and does teshuvah), then he shall return the stolen article and he shall pay the principle and add a fifth; and he shall bring his guilt-offering to Hashem, a ram ". This is known as an Asham Gezeilos, and it is brought irrespective of whether the sinner transgressed be'Shogeg or be'Meizid. This is in fact, the only Asham Vaday that is discussed in the current Parshah. In the previous Parshah (i.e. Pasuk 15/16) the Torah discussed another Asham Vaday, the Asham Me'ilos, in connection with someone who abuses Hekdesh, so called because of the seriousness of the sin - as 'Me'ilah' also translates as treachery - which is akin to stretching out one's hand to benefit from the king's private property. This Korban however, is confined to where the sinner transgressed be'Shogeg (as the author explained in Mitzvah 127). Furthermore, this same Korban Asham consisting of a ram worth two Sela'im is brought by a Nazir who became Tamei, as we will learn in Parshas Naso. It too, consists of a ram worth two Sela'im and, like the current Asham, it applies whether one transgressed be'Shogeg or be'Meizid. And it is also brought by a Metzora when his Tzara'as terminates, as the author will explain in Parshas Metzora (Mitzvah 176). It goes without saying that the concept of Shogeg and Meizid is simply not applicable there. And the last person to require an Asham Vaday is someone who has had relations with a Shifchah Charufah (a Shifchah Cana'anis who has been half set-free [i.e. by one of her joint masters]), as the Torah writes in Kedoshim (19:20/21) "And a man who lies with a woman a Shifchah who is half betrothed to a man, and she has not been fully redeemed, there shall be an enquiry". This case too, applies to both Shogeg and Meizid.

It transpires that there are five Ashamos Vaday, and so Chazal have listed them in the Mishnah in 'Eizehu Mekoman': 'Asham Gezeilos, Asham Me'ilos, Asham Shifchah Charufah, Asham Zazir and Asham Metzora. Asham Taluy, which is listed there too, is, as its name suggests, not an Asham Vaday. (cont.)

* * *

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