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

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Vol. 20   No. 24

This issue is sponsored
L'iluy Nishmas
Alecsander ben Yisrael Moshe z"l
whose Yohrzeit is on 6 NIssan

Parshas Vayikra

The Power of Sin;
The Power of a Mitzvah

(Adapted from Rabeinu Bachye)

"If a person sins and transgresses one of the commandments that shall not be done, and he is unaware and becomes guilty, he shall bear his sin" (5:17).

The Pasuk is referring to someone who may have transgressed a sin which is punishable by Kareis, but does not know for sure that he did. One such case will be where cheilev and shuman (non-Kasher and Kasher fat, respectively) are lying before him, and, thinking that both pieces are permitted, he picks up one of them and eats it. And he is subsequently unable to ascertain which one he ate.

The Torah commands him here to bring an Asham Taluy, which will protect him from punishment. The moment however, he discovers that he ate Cheilev, he remains obligated to bring the Chatas that eating Cheilav requires.


The author cites the following Medrash: Rebbi Yossi Hag'lili states that if the Torah punishes somebody who is not even aware that he has sinned, how much more so somebody who does!


Rebbi Yossi says that if one wants to know the reward that is due to Tzadikim, one should study what happened to Adam ha'Rishon; Adam ha'Rishon was commanded only one ordinary Lo Sa'aseh, which he transgressed. See how many deaths he brought upon the world - on himself and on all his generations!

Now we know that the measure of good exceeds the measure of bad many fold. So imagine how much good a person brings on himself, and on his descendants till the end of time, if he sits and desists from eating Pigul and Nosar (various prohibitions regarding Kodshim) and from eating on Yom Kipur!

Rebbi Akiva, comments on the Pasuk in Parshas Shoftim (17:6) "through two or three witnesses the thing should be upheld". If the testimony is upheld with two witnesses, he asks, why does the Torah mention three?

It is to teach us, he explains, that if the witnesses turn out to be false (Eidim Zomemin), then the third witness is bound to suffer the same consequences - sometimes even the death-penalty - as the two initial witnesses, even though his testimony was ineffective.

And he concludes that if a witness must share in the suffering of his co-witnesses simply for joining them, how much more so will someone who joins a group of people who are performing a Mitzvah share in their rich reward!

Finally, the Medrash quotes Rebbi Elazar ben Azaryah, who cites the Pasuk in Ki Seitzei (24:12) which after obligating the owner of a field who forgets a sheaf in the field to leave it for the poor, adds that if he does so, he will earn a Divine Blessing.

Now the Pasuk fixes a B'rachah for performing a Mitzvah which comes to one's hand without one's knowledge, and this extends to someone who loses a Sela, and a poor man finds it and is sustained by it.

Imagine then how much reward and how many blessings a person will receive for giving Tz'dokoh willingly!


The Torah says little about the reward of Mitzvos, perhaps because it cannot be conveyed in human terms, because it is beyond our comprehension. Yet, based on the belief that the power of good far exceeds the power of bad, far from being disheartened by the terrible punishments that the Torah does speak about, we can take heart at the immense rewards that clearly lay in store for those who go in G-d's ways that we can learn from them. And the blessings that the Torah promises for the performance of Mitzvos that we perform unintentionally will serve as an indication as to limitless blessings that lie in store for those who perform Mitzvos intentionally.

* * *

Parshah Pearls
(Adapted mainly from the Riva)

The Mitzvah of S'michah

"And he shall lean his hands on the head of the Olah (ho'Oloh)" (1:4).

Although this Pasuk is talking about a bull of an Olas Nedavah (a Korban that one donates), Rashi learns from the 'Hey' in "ho'Oloh" that the Mitzvah of S'michah (leaning one's hands forcefully on the head of a Korban) extends to sheep as well as to obligatory Korbanos.

The Riva adds that in fact, S'michah is confined to Korb'nos Yachid (but does not extend to Korb'nos Tzibur).Moreover, he points out, the Korban of a woman and of a Gentile does not require S'michah either. All of these however, require the accompanying Nesachim (drink-offerings).


When the Blood of Two Korbanos Gets Mixed

" and the sons of Aharon shall bring the blood and they shall sprinkle the blood on the Mizbei'ach" (1:5).

Rashi learns from the repetition of the word "dam" that if the blood of two different Korbanos becomes mixed, one goes ahead and sprinkles it. However from the word "Domo" (in Pasuk 11) he learns that this does not apply to a case where one of those Korbanos is a Chatas, whose blood is sprinkled on the top half of the Mizbei'ach (whereas all other animal Korbanos are sprinkled on the lower half).

The Riva queries Rashi from the Machlokes between Rebbi Eliezer, who maintains that if the blood of a B'chor, which requires only one sprinkling became mixed with one that requires four sprinklings (i.e. a Chatas) which one sprinkles just once, and Rebbi Yehoshua, who maintains that one must sprinkle it four times (once on each corner). In any event, both Tana'im hold that one does sprinkle blood that requires sprinkling above that became mixed with blood that is sprinkled below.

And he answers that Rashi will explain that Machlokes according to the Rabbanan, who hold that if the two bloods (from above and below) must be poured out, and the 'four' mentioned there means (not literally 'four' with reference to a Chatas, but) to 'two which are four' (with reference to an Asham, an Olah or a Shelamim, which, like a B'chor, are all sprinkled on the lower half of the Mizbei'ach).


Hefshet and Nitu'ach

"And he (the Kohen) shall cut it (the lamb) up into pieces, its head and its fat " (1:12).

The Riva remarks that the Pasuk repeats the obligation to cut up (Nitu'ach) the Olah, although it mentioned it already with regard to the bull, but it omits the obligation to skin it (Hefshet).

All burned-offerings had to be skinned, he explains, and if the Torah mentions it in one place, it does not need to mention it in another, as there is no reason to differentiate between the various Olos.

The cutting-up is different he explains. The lamb is a very small animal. So if the Torah had not specifically included it in the Nitu'ach, we may well have thought that, unlike the bull, it does require cutting-up, and is brought up whole on the Mizbei'ach.


Returning a Stolen Article

"And he shall return the stolen article that he stole" (5:23).

The words "that he stole" are clearly superfluous. Rabeinu Bachye therefore cites two Gemoros in Bava Kama (on 66a and 66b respectively), which learn the following two D'rashos from them:

1. That one is not permitted to pay the value of the stolen article, but is obligated to return the stolen article itself, as long as it remains intact.

2. That in the event that the current value of the article has decreased, and it is no longer intact, one is obligated to pay the original value of the article, and not its current value.


According to the first of the two rulings, it will transpire that somebody who steals a beam of wood and builds it into his house, he will be obligated to demolish his house and to return the stolen beam in order to fulfill the Mitzvah of returning a lost article.

However, in order to make Teshuvah easier for the Ganav, the Chachamim instituted that in such a case it will suffice to pay the owner money.

Indeed, the author cites the Gemara in Ta'anis (16a) which praises the people of Ninveh for going the whole hog and demolishing their mansions in order to return the actual beams that they had stolen.

* * *

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