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

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Vol. 22   No. 23

This issue is sponsored
with wishes for a Refu'ah Sheleimah for
Breina bas Rivka
and for
Gershon ben Rivka Chaya

Parshas Vayikra (Ha'Chodesh)

Communal Korbanos
(Adapted from the Ramban)

"Speak to the B'nei Yisrael and say to them 'A man from among you who brings a Korban to Hashem from the animals, shall bring (takrivu) your Korban (korbanchem) from the cattle or from the flock' " (1:2).


Both the words "takrivu" and "korbanchem", Rashi points out, are written in the plural. The former, he explains, teaches us that two (or more) people can bring a combined Olah (an Olas Shutfin), whilst from the latter, we learn that the community can bring a communal Olah - in the form of the Olas Kayits ha'Mizbe'ach. This latter Korban refers to public money that is leftover from the half-Shekalim that everyone contributed in Adar, and the Olos were brought in the long summer months, when the Mizbe'ach was otherwise idle.

The difference between the two above-mentioned Korbanos is, that whereas a combined Olah required a). each member to perform Semichah (leaning his hands) on the animal, and b). the members to bring Nesachim (the Minchah and wine-offering that accompanied an Olah) out of their own pocket, the communal Olas Nedavah did not.


The Ramban adds that, if there was no left-over money in the kitty, the Kohanim were permitted to collect money from the Tzibur and to bring communal Olos - under the same conditions as the Olos Kayitz ha'Mizbe'ach. Interestingly, the commentary on the Ramban citing the Yeshu'os Malko, queries the Ramban, from his own words in the Milchamos in B'rachos, where he defends the opinion of the Rif, who maintains that, just as the community cannot bring an Olas Nedavah, so too, can they not Daven a Tefilas Nedavah. According to that Rif, if the Tzibur do group together to purchase an Olas Nedavah, it has the Din of an Olas Shutfin, which requires every participant to perform Semichah, and which obligates them to purchase the Nesech out of their own pockets.


In any event, the Ramban here confines his Chidush here, regarding the Olas Tzibur, to the Korban Olah, based on the Din of the Olas Kayitz ha'Mizbe'ach. It does not extend to a Shelamim or to birds that the Tzibur bring. They are always considered a Korban Shutfin.

* * *

Thoughts on Parshas ha'Chodesh
The Korban Pesach - the Seh

" and each man shall take for himself a seh (a lamb or a kid-goat), a she for each family" (12:3).

The reason for this Mitzvah, says the Ramban, and in particular, for its choice of a 'Seh' (usually translated as a lamb), is because 'Seh' is the Mazel that rises in the month of Nisan. Shechting a lamb and eating it, at a time when the world deeply believed in astrology, served as a demonstration that Yisrael was not leaving Egypt due to the power of the Mazel, but because G-d decreed it.


Moreover, according to the Mechilta, which explains how the Egyptians worshipped the lamb, the demonstration went even deeper, in that treating the lambs in this way denigrated their gods, precisely at the time when their celestial master (the Mazel She) was at its height.

Indeed, commenting on the Pasuk "Take for yourself a lamb and Shecht a Pesach" (12:21), the Medrash explains "Take for yourself a lamb and Shecht the Egyptian gods'.


Bein ho'Arbayim

"And the entire congregation of Yisrael shall Shecht it 'bein ha'arbayim'" (12:6).

Rashi translates "bein ha'arbayim" as 'between the eve that begins in the day, when the sun starts to set, and the eve of the night, when it finally sets with the advent of nightfall.

The Ramban however, translates it as in the middle of the period that is called 'Arbayim'. And this is how he breaks down the twenty-four hour period that comprises a day: 'Boker': the first four hours of the day (when the sun is in the east); 'Tzohorayim': the two remaining hours before mid-day (when the sun shines brightly in all directions); 'Arbayim' (or bein ha'Arbayim):' the period between midday and sunset (when the sun no longer shines eastwards or southwards); 'Erev Yom': the hour and a quarter between sunset and nightfall (during which time the Korban Pesach can no longer be Shechted); 'Erev': the period between nightfall and dawnbreak.


The Egyptian Gods

" and I will perform judgement on all the gods of Egypt" (12:12).

The wooden gods will rot, those made of metal will melt, Rashi explains.

Why, asks the Ramban, does the Torah not mention this phenomenon, when it describes how all the firstborn died?


Initially, he ascribes this to the fact that the Torah is recording the events that frightened the Egyptians, who were terrified about the death of their firstborn (as is clear from Pasuk 30), but not overly concerned about the destruction of their gods. Moreover, it is dealing with their reaction to the discovery of the death of their firstborn (see same Pasuk), whereas the demise of their gods they only discovered the next morning, when they attended their houses of worship.


Presenting a different interpretation that also dispels his question, the Ramban explains 'the gods of Egypt' refers, not to gods made of wood and stone, but to the celestial powers in Heaven that represent Egypt, and he cites the Pasuk in Yeshayah (24:21) "Hashem will deal with (destroy) the hosts of the Heaven in the Heaven and the kings of the earth on earth".

It is then obvious that the Torah does not mention the downfall of the gods together with the death of the firstborn, seeing as the Egyptians would not have been aware of its occurrence.

* * *

Parshah Pearls
(Adapted from the Ramban)

No Korban from the Chayos

" from the animals, shall bring your Korban from the cattle or from the flock" (1:2).

The Torah is telling us here, says the Ramban, is that anyone who brings a Chayah (even one that is Kasher, such as a species of deer) transgresses an Asei, as the Gemara states in the third Perek of Zevachim.

Later the Torah will specify Korbanos consisting of birds and Korbanos consisting of flour. And what the Torah is therefore saying here is that, if you wish to bring a Korban consisting of an animal, then it must be one of the two specified categories, comprising three types of animals, as "tzon" (a flock) incorporates sheep and goats.


Semichah with Both Hands

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


The Ramban cites a Pasuk in connection with the Sa'ir ha'Mishtale'ach on Yom Kipur, as well as a number of other Pesukim, which talk about placing the hands on the animal. From these Pesukim it is clear that the Semichah which almost every Korban required before being Shechted, has to be performed with both hands.

Why then, asks the Ramban, does the Torah constantly mention 'hand' in the singular, when referring to the Mitzvah of Semichah?

Citing the Gemara in Menachos (Daf 93b), he suggests that it comes to preclude performing it through a shali'ach - despite the principle 'What a shali'ach does is considered as if one has done it oneself' (that applies to the majority of Mitzvos).

And this, he explains, Chazal learn from the 'vav' in "yodo" - i.e. "his own hand" and not that of a shali'ach.


The Avodas ha'Dam

" Then he shall Shecht the bull and the sons of Aharon, the Kohanim, shall bring (ve'hikrivu) the blood and sprinkle the blood on the Mizbe'ach" (1:4). It is clear from the Pasuk that the Shechitah of a Korban may be performed by the owner (or by anybody else), and it is the Avodos that follow the Shechitah that can only be performed by a Kohen.

Hence Rashi, who translates the Pasuk as above, explains that, if the word "ve'hikrivu" refers to the Mitzvah of transporting the blood to the Mizbe'ach, it must also incorporate that of receiving the blood in a k'li shoreis, by virtue of the fact that it takes place immediately after the Shechitah, before the transportation of the blood.


The Ramban however, translates "ve'hikrivu" as 'making it into a Korban', incorporating receiving the blood and sprinkling it on the Mizbe'ach (but not transporting it).

And the fact that transporting the blood requires a Kohen, the author concludes, we learn from the transportation of the limbs of the Korban which require a Kohen (as stated in the previous Pasuk).

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