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

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Vol. 21   No. 24

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Parshas Vayikra

(Adapted from the Oznayim la'Torah)

No Fish, No Birds No Vermin

"Speak to the B'nei Yisrael and say to them 'Any man who will bring from you a Korban to Hashem, from the animals, from the cattle and from the sheep, shall he bring his Korban' " (1:2).

'But not from Chayos (or from fish, even from Kasher species)', says the Oznayim la'Torah - birds are specifically included later in the Parshah.

It is possible to bring to G-d from every type of creation -

from animals and birds

from the fruit of the ground (flour-offerings from wheat, barley and oil) and

from the fruit of the trees (the seven fruits that comprise Bikurim & wine for the drink-offerings and the wine libation on Succos)

from spices for the incense, and even

from still-life (water for the water-libation on Succos, and salt, which is added to all Korbanos).

The only two exceptions are the afore-mentioned wolf animals and fish. The author does not mention insects and vermin, none of which are permitted even to eat as Chulin, how much more so to be given as a gift to Hakadosh-Baruch-Hu.

One of the reasons given by the author to explain why fish cannot be brought as Korbanos is because of the habit of larger fish to swallow smaller ones - which is easily understood when we remember that one of the reasons that, of all birds only doves and pigeons are eligible, is because they are the birds that are most pursued by predators, and G-d favours those that are pursued (and rejects the pursuers).

And one of the reasons that he gives to explain why Chayos (i.e. deer) are not eligible, is because of their inaccessibility to us, since G-d does not set out to make life difficult for us.


Vines and Olive-Trees

"And the sons of Aharon shall arrange the fire on the wood and they shall arrange wood on the fire" (1:7).

All wood is eligible to go on the Mizbei'ach, says the Medrash Tanchuma, with the exception of vines and olive-wood - because they produce quality fruit. So we see that the parents are saved on the merit of the children.

The Oznayim la'Torah queries this from the Gemara in Bava Kama (Daf 93) which explains that the only birds that merit to go on the Mizbei'ach are doves and pigeons, since they are always chased (as we explained in the previous article). Odd, he comments, the vine and olive-trees merit being spared from going on the Mizbei'ach, whilst the doves and the pigeons merit going on the Mizbei'ach!


And he explains that whereas to be sure, it is a great merit to be brought on the Mizbei'ach as a fire-offering to Hashem, as indeed the doves and pigeons were, the vines and the olive trees were not brought as sacrifices, but merely as a preparation for the sacrifices. Consequently, it was a much greater merit to 'raise fine children', which would ultimately go on the Mizbei'ach in the form of 'Menachos and Nesachim!'

Another reason to explain why the vines and the olive-trees cannot be brought on the Mizbei'ach (which is really an extension of the previous one) is in order not to spoil the habitat of Eretz Yisrael, by destroying trees which produce such valuable fruit (which are brought on the Mizbei'ach).


And a final reason as to the prohibition from bringing the two above types of wood on the Mizbei'ach, depending on the text of the Gemara in Tamid (28) is either on account of the knots in the wood ('Kiyra') or on account of the excessive smoke ('Kitma') that they produce when being burned.

* * *

Parshah Pearls
(Adapted from the Oznayim la'Torah)

By Special Invitation

"And He called to Moshe " (1:1).

Whenever G-d spoke to Moshe, He always called to him first, as Rashi informs us, and there are only three places where the Torah actually records it: by the burning bush, at Har Sinai and here.

By the burning bush, the Oznayim la'Torah explains, because it was the first time that G-d spoke to Moshe, at Sinai, because it was the first time that He spoke to him and to K'lal Yisrael, and here, because it was the first time that He spoke to Moshe from the new location (the Ohel Mo'ed).


Only Moshe Heard

" And Hashem spoke to him " (Ibid.).

Only Moshe heard, Rashi notes, but nobody else.

The Oznayim la'Torah cites the Chofetz Chayim who observed that many things that people with weak Emunah found it difficult to comprehend, became more feasible with the advent of 'modern inventions'. For example, he says, people could not understand the Mishnah in Pirkei Avos (2:1) 'Know what is above you - an Eye that sees and an Ear that hears".

These became easily understandable with the advent of the radio and the television.

And the possibility of confining one's words to a specific listener without anybody else hearing (as in the current Pasuk), was no longer deemed impossible once the telephone came upon the scene.

Perhaps one might add that the third statement in the above Mishnah 'And all your deeds are written in the book' (how can a book record so many myriads of pieces of information?), too, became easier to fathom when they invented the computer.


Two in One

" he shall Shecht the bull before Hashem and the sons of Aharon the Kohen shall bring (ve'hikrivu) its blood " (1:5).

Even though "ve'hikrivu" implies carrying the blood to the Mizbei'ach, since this is the first Avodah mentioned after the Shechitah (which is not an Avodah and may be performed by a non-Kohen), it incorporates receiving the blood in a bowl, which is the first Avodah after the Shechitah. From here Chazal learn that receiving the blood and onwards can only be performed by a Kohen (Rashi),


And the reason that the Torah sees fit to specifically mention the Avodah of 'Hakravah', and did not simply rely on the fact that it follows the Shechitah, is to teach us that, even though Hakravah is dispensable - by standing the animal next to the Mizbei'ach when Shechting it, there where it is necessary, it is an Avodah and can only be performed by Kohanim.


The Wood on the Fire

"And the sons of Aharon shall arrange the pieces on the wood which is on the fire that is on the Mizbei'ach" (1:8).

In the previous Pasuk, the Torah wrote that the Kohanim shall arrange wood on the fire. The Oznayim la'Torah explains this with reference to the twigs which serve to kindle the logs of wood on which they burned the Korbanos, which, in turn, the Pasuk is referring to when it concludes "and they shall arrange the wood on the fire".

The latter Pasuk is talking about the initial kindling of the fire, whereas the current Pasuk is referring to a later stage, when one begins to burn the Korbanos. The author poses the following question: Seeing as by the time the Kohanim start burning the Korbanos, the little twigs will have long been extinguished, and all the fire will be concentrated on top of the logs of wood, what does the Torah therefore mean when it refers to "the wood which is on the fire", when all that remains of the original kindling is the 'fire that is on the wood'?


This is a clear proof, says the Oznayim le'Torah, that the Heavenly fire which, according to Chazal, descended on to the copper Mizbei'ach of Betzalel and on to the Mizbei'ach of Shlomoh, when the Beis-Hamikdash was built (which helped burn the Korbanos) was not just a once only affair, it remained 'crouching like a lion' on the Mizbei'ach until the Mishkan was hidden and the Beis-Hamikdash was destroyed. And that fire of course, was not subject to the gravitational laws of our regular fire.

Note that the same happened when they built the second Beis-Hamikdash, only there, Chazal tell us, it crouched on the Mizbei'ach, not like a lion, but like a dog.

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