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

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Vol. 17   No. 23

This issue is sponsored by
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l'iluy Nishmas
Yosef ben Yitchak HaLevi z"l
whose Yohrzeit is 25 Adar

Parshas Vayikra

And He Called to Moshe
(Adapted from Rabeinu Bachye)

The Parshah ought to have begun with the words "And G-d called Moshe", R. Bachye asserts. And the reason that it does not, is to teach us that even though Seifer Vayikra is an independent Seifer, it is nevertheless part of the Torah, which is all one entity. As a matter of fact, the word "Vayikra" refers to 'the Glory of Hashem' mentioned at the end of the previous Parshah. And the Glory of Hashem is synonymous with the small 'Hey' in the word "be'hibor'on" in Parshas Bereishis (2:4), which explains why the 'Alef' in Vayikra is small.

As Rashi has already commented, the Voice of G-d could not be heard outside the Ohel Mo'ed, despite the fact that it is described as the Voice of "G-d Almighty", "like the Voice of a multitude of water", and "like the Voice of a mighty army". Indeed, says the author, it was the very same Voice that they heard at Har Sinai, that was so awesome that it caused Yisrael's souls to leave their bodies, so that it required an act of Techi'as ha'Meisim to bring them back to life. Yet that very same Voice could not be heard outside the Camp of Yisrael!

R. Bachye concludes that this was the way that G-d always spoke to the Nevi'im - they heard the loud Voice of G-d, but nobody else heard a thing, And so we find in Seifer Shmuel, where an angel of G-d appeared to the young Shmuel for the first time, three times in a row in succession, yet Eli ha'Kohen heard nothing, and it was only after the third time, when the Kohen Gadol had actually listened intently and still heard nothing, that he became convinced of the veracity of Sh'muel's claim to prophecy.

And this wonder of G-d's communication with his people is not confined to the sense of hearing, says R. Bachye. It also extends to sight, where G-d shows something to whoever He wants should see it, whereas others see nothing - at one and the same time and in the same place; as we find with Daniel, who saw a vision which remained invisible to his companions. The same phenomenon occurred with regard to the many signs and wonders that G-d wrought in Egypt, where the Egyptians were stricken by plagues that did not affect Yisrael at all. And so it was regarding the plague of darkness, where it was "Dark for the Egyptians for three days, whilst for all of B'nei Yisrael there was light in their dwellings" - at one and the same time and in the same place.


R. Bachye quotes R. Sa'adya Gaon, who explains that hearing the Voice of G-d directly, and not via an angel, like other prophets, was a novel occurrence. Other prophets, he explains, received their prophecy through the medium of a Mal'ach, who in turn, received it from G-d. Moshe, on the other hand, received his prophecy directly from G-d, because he stood in for an angel. And so the Torah testifies "I will speak to him face to face".

Moshe's prophesy, he explains, was superior to that of all other prophets in three ways:

1. He received it directly from G-d, as we just explained.

2. He remained calm, in full command of his faculties, and was able to communicate with G-d, when receiving his prophesy, like one person speaks to another, as the Torah writes in Yisro (18:19) "Moshe spoke and G-d responded with a Voice". Other prophets, on the other hand, tended to tremble from head to foot when receiving their prophesies, and were unable to utter a syllable until the Shechinah departed.

3. There was only one partition dividing between Moshe and G-d, whereas other prophets were separated from their source of prophecy by means of no less than nine partitions. On this point, R. Sa'adya Gaon elaborates, citing Pesukim regarding Yechezkel and Daniel, among others, which hint at the nine partitions.

* * *

Parshah Pearls
(Adapted from Rabeinu Bachye)

Speak and Say

"Speak to the B'nei Yisrael and say to them " (1:2).

The double expressions used here and in numerous places in the Torah, says R. Bachye, refers to the general Halachah and its details, the written Torah and the oral Torah respectively. For example, "Speak to the B'nei Yisrael" refers to the Korban Olah, as presented briefly in the Chumash; Whereas "And say to them", refers to the Dinim of Hefshet and Niu'ach (the stripping and the cutting up), that the Shechitah must take place in the north side of the Mizbei'ach and not on any other side, who is eligible to Shecht and the wood that is Kasher to go on the Mizbei'ach.

Like with regard to the Mitzvah of Tzitzis, "Speak " means 'Tell them the Mitzvah to wear Tzitzis', and "Say", 'tell them that they must have eight threads on each corner (for the reasons that are well-known, and as the author will teach us in the Parshah of Sh'lach) and five knots.'


Beheimos that May Go on the Mizbei'ach

" from the Beheimos " (Ibid.).

"From the Beheimos", R. Bachye extrapolates, but not from the Chayos (the wild beasts), which the Torah is hereby disqualifying from going on the Mizbei'ach.

The reason for this distinction, he explains, is because the former are hunted whereas the latter hunt - and G-d always takes the part of those who are hunted, rejecting the predators.

And this concurs with what Chazal say (see footnote) that one should rather be the one who is shamed than the one who shames, and that one rather be the one who is hunted than the one who hunts. Likewise, there are no birds that are hunted more than the pigeons and young doves, which is why precisely they are declared eligible to go on the Mizbei'ach.

The source that the Gemara in Shabbos (88b) quotes however, is the Pasuk in Seifer Shoftim (5:31), in connection with the sun's silence after the moon's bid to assume leadership, "And His loved ones shall be like the rising sun in its mightiness".


Alternatively, the Torah permits animals because they are 'tamim' (devoid of cunning and peace-loving), as opposed to wild beasts, which use cunning as they pursue their killing instincts. Which is why Ya'akov chose the Midah of Temimus as the Torah describes him as an "Ish Tam" (Toldos 25:27). And that is why G-d gave his children a Torah "whose ways pleasant and all its paths are Sholom " (Mishlei 3:17), and why Yisrael too are described as "Shulamis" (Shir Hashirim 6:1), because they are a nation among whom the 'Peaceful One' of the world dwells.

And by the same token, Korbanos bring peace to the world.


Chayos that May Not


On the other hand, R. Bachye continues, the Torah disqualifies Chayos from the Mizbei'ach, because they symbolize the Midah of Eisav, whose Midos were diametrically opposed to those of the peace-loving son. He was a man of Se'ir, who chose to live in wild hunting, in a location which he shared with the wild animals whose instincts he shared, a location of destruction and desolation, far removed from the Midah of Sholom.


Indeed, it is for the same reason that the Torah forbids hewn stones to be used in the construction of the Mizbei'ach, because metal, which symbolizes the sword, is used to destroy the world. It is the inheritance of Eisav ha'Rasha, and so the Torah writes in Yisro (20:25) " for it you wave your sword over it, you will desecrate it ". Since the Mizbei'ach is a source of long life, whilst metal curtails life.



"And he shall lean his hand on the head of the Olah" (1:4).

Semichah, R. Bachye explains, must be performed with both hands, as the Medrash learns from the fact that the Torah writes in Parshas Acharei-Mos (16:21) "And he shall lean his two hands " (which is a Binyan Av - [the source] for all other places where Semichah is required). And the reason that the Torah writes here "his hand" in the singular is to preclude a Shali'ach from doing it on behalf of the owner.

The Semichah had to be performed in the Azarah, and the animal had to be Shechted immediately after Semichah, which also had to be performed forcefully, with both hands placed on the animal's head, not on the neck and not on the sides.


Shechting the Bull

"And he shall Shecht the bull from the herd (ben ha'bakar)" (1:8).

Chazal have a tradition that a Zar (a non-Kohen) may Shecht Kodshim. This explains, comments R. Bachye, why the Torah changes from the plural ("and they shall bring", "and they shall sprinkle"), which pertain to the Kohanim, mentioned (in Pasuk 5). And the same applies to the skinning process (Hafshatah), where the Torah writes "and he shall flay", which may be performed by a Zar, to teach us that whoever performed the Shechitah may (and probably did) perform the Hafshatah, even a Levi or a Yisrael. Indeed, the Pasuk in Divrei Hayamim (2, 35:11) informs us that it was the Levi'im who used to Shecht. The Torah also uses the singular with regard to the Semichah, which is confined to the owner, irrespective to which tribe he belongs.

And when the Torah writes "ben ha'Bakar" it is referring to a bull in its second year. "Par" means one it its third year, and "Eigel" a calf in its first year.

Similarly, a sheep in its second year is called "Ayil", a ram. And one in its first year, is called "Keves".

This is the opinion of R. Meir in Rosh Hashanah (10a).

As for a goat, the Torah refers to a young goat in its first year as "Sa'ir", and in its second year as "Se'ir Izim".

This last statement however, is problematic, bearing in mind that regarding the Musaf of Succos, the Torah sometimes writes "Sa'ir", and sometimes "Se'ir Izim" (and it is unlikely that the age of the animal would differ from day to day).


The Sea's Complaint

"And all your Korbanos you shall salt with salt" (3:13).

The reason for the insertion of salt in every Korban, R. Bachye explains, is because it is not befitting to bring unsalted meat to G-d, seeing as one would not serve it to a human king. Just as the Navi Mal'achi complained 'Bring it to your prince! Would he accept it " (1:8).


In one of the alternative explanations, the author cites a Medrash, which divides the world into three sections - a third desert, a third inhabited land and a third sea. At the creation, it seems, the sea stood and complained before Hakadosh-Baruch-Hu and complained: 'The Torah was given in the desert, it lamented, and the Beis-Hamikdash was built in inhabited country. What about me (What role do I play in Your service)?'

Back came the reply 'Yisrael are going to bring salt on all their Korbanos (before bringing them on the Mizbei'ach).

* * *


"And he shall lean his hand (ve'somach yodo) on the head of his Korban" (3:2).

In the case of a bull, the Torah writes "ve'somach yodo", the Ba'al ha'Turim observes; whilst by a lamb or a young goat, it adds the word "es" ("ve'somach es yodo").

The reason for this subtle distinction, he explains, is because basically, the Semichah of a Korban should be done with one's full force. This was indeed the case with regard to a bull, which would not have been affected by a person leaning his hands on its head with full force. A lamb or a young goat however, would have fallen had one done that. So the Torah adds the word "es", indicating that Semichah on them should be performed with reservation.


"And he shall take the bull (of the Kohen Gadol's Chatas) to a pure location to the place where the ashes are poured, and he shall burn it " (4:12).

The Ba'al ha'Turim explains that the Torah specifically commands the Kohen Gadol to burn his Korban outside in a public place, to teach us not to be embarrassed over confessing our sins (which incidentally, we are not supposed to do in public); If even the eminent Kohen Gadol made a public display of his sin, how much more so, should we be prepared to confess ours.


" and he shall bring his Korban (es Korbono) " (4:23).

The Torah adds the word "es" by the Korban of the Nasi (which it does not do by the Korbanos of the other sinners [see for example Pasuk 28]).

This is to teach the Nasi, says the Ba'al ha'Turim, that, in keeping with his ostentatious life-style (every day he eats nice juicy meat) he should bring a nice juicy goat as his Korban. It would not be correct for 'his table to be full, and the table of his Master empty!'


" a male goat without blemish" (Ibid).

The Ba'al ha'Turim points out that the Torah here adds the word "male", and later (in Pasuk 28 [in connection with the Chatas of an ordinary individual]) the word "female".

This is necessary because the word "Eiz" as such incorporates both a male and a female goat .

This distinction is not necessary however, when referring to a lamb, since the word for a male lamb is 'Kesev' and for a female lamb 'kisbah' (see for example, Pasuk 32). Consequently, whichever one the Torah uses, its gender is self-evident.


"And if an individual inadvertently sins when it does it (ba'asosah) one of the Mitzvos of Hashem "(4:27).

Chazal learn from the word "ba'asosah", that one only brings a Chatas if one performed the entire act, but not for performing half of it (e.g. if two people do it together).

This, the Ba'al ha'Turim points out, is hinted in the Gematriyah of the word, which is equivalent to 'Im kuloh ve'lo be'miktzosoh' (if one does it all, but not just part of it).

* * *

(Based on the Mishnah in Zevachim (chap. 10, 1-4)

Two specific priorities determine which Korban takes precedence over its counterpart. The first, which extends to all Mitzvos, is 'Todir' (whichever is more common); the second is 'Mekudash' (whichever is on a higher plane of sanctity). The first Mishnah deals with the topic of 'Tadir'. The subsequent Mishnos, with that of 'Mekudash;.


1. Whatever is more common than its counterpart takes precedence over it.

The Musafin of Shabbos precede those of Yom-Tov, and the Musaf of Rosh-Chodesh precedes those of Rosh Hashanah, both because they are more common;

The Mishnah learns this principle from the Pasuk in Pinchas (28:23 [with reference to the Korban Musaf])

" besides the morning Olah (implying that the Oloh was brought first) which is for the Olas ha'Tomid".

From the last phrase, which otherwise appears superfluous, the Tana extrapolates that the Olas Tomid precedes the Korban Musaf precisely because it is Tamid (continual).

2. Whatever is more holy than its counterpart takes precedence (and all the rulings that we are now about to discuss are based on this principle). The blood of a Chatas precedes that of an Olah (since it atones on Chayvei K'riysos, which require a large atonement). And by the same token, the limbs of an Olah take precedence over those of a Chatas (because the entire Olah is burned on the Mizbei'ach, which is not the case by a Chatas).

A Chatas precedes an Asham (a Guilt-Offering), because its blood is sprinkled on all four corners and poured on to the Yesod (the foundation of the Mizbei'ach), which is not the case by Asham.

An Asham precedes a Todah (a thanks-offering - a species of Shelamim) because it is Kodshei Kodshim (whilst the Todah is Kodshim Kalim).

The Korban Todah and the ram brought by a Nazir take precedence over a Shelamim because a. they can be eaten for only one day (like Kodshei Kodshim, [whereas a Shelamim can be eaten for two]), and b. they require bread.

A Shelamim takes precedence over a B'chor (a firstborn animal) because it requires a. its blood to be sprinkled on two diagonally opposite corners which are considered four - since the blood ends up on all four sides (Sh'tei Matonos she'Hein Arba); b. leaning one's hands on it (Semichah); c. a libation offering (wine); d. waving the chest and the right calf (Tenufas Chazeh ve'Shok) - whereas a B'chor requires none of these things, only one sprinkling of blood.

3. A B'chor takes precedence over Ma'aser (Beheimah), because a. its sanctity takes effect already inside its mother's womb and b. it may only be eaten by Kohanim (neither of which pertain to Ma'aser).

Ma'aser takes precedence over all bird-offerings because a. it is Shechted with a knife (a K'li Shareis [and is therefore known as 'Zevach']), whereas birds are killed by the Kohen piercing its neck (Melikah) and b. both its blood and the Eimurim (specific fat-pieces) are

Kodshei Kodshim and go on the Mizbei'ach, whereas only the blood of a Chatas ha'Of goes on the Mizbei'ach; and seeing as they take precedence over a Chatas ha'Of, they certainly take precedence over an Olas ha'Of (which is secondary to a Chatas ha'Of, as we shall see in the following Mishnah).

4. Birds take precedence over Menachos (flour-offerings) because their blood is sprinkled (and blood is a more effective atonement).

The Minchah of a sinner takes precedence over that of a free-will gift (a Nedavah) because it comes to atone for a sin. The Chatas ha'Of takes precedence over an Olas ha'Of (as the Torah writes "And he shall bring the bird of the Chatas first"). And the same applies when designating one's pair of birds, comprising a Chatas and an Olah.

6. The same order of precedence that applies to the sacrificing also applies to the eating (wherever applicable).

* * *

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