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Vol. 5 No. 23
The Study of Korbonos
The Chofetz Chayim, quoting a Gemoro in Yuma (6a) explains how, when it writes "Command Aharon and his sons saying", the Torah is implying that the mitzvah of Korbonos (sacrifices) is not only confined to the bringing of the Korban, but also extends to the study of the laws of the Korban in question, and that without it, one has not fulfilled the mitzvah of bringing the Korban. A similar idea is expressed in the Haggodoh (stemming from the Mishnah in Pirkei Ovos - 116a) where R. Gamliel maintains that whoever failed to speak about Pesach (the Korban), Matzoh and Morror on Pesach, has not fulfilled his duty (which some explain to refer to the duty of eating the Pesach, Matzoh and Morror) on Pesach. In both cases, the oral discussion of the mitzvah is linked to its performance, and without the one, one has not fulfilled the other to perfection.
Today, when the Beis ha'Mikdosh is destroyed and we are denied the mitzvah of bringing the Korbonos, at least we still have the mitzvah of studying the corresponding halochos. And more than that: for Chazal derive from the expression used over and over again: "this is the Torah (law) of the burnt-offering", "and this is the Torah of the flour-offering", "this is the Torah of the sin-offering", etc., that whoever studies the laws of the burnt-offering, the flour-offering, the sin-offering, etc., it is as if he had actually brought the relevant Korban (at a time when he cannot factually bring it).
There are many areas in Torah-fulfillment which are not currently in practice - such as the many laws pertaining to purity and impurity, but that of Korbonos is unique, inasmuch as it is the only one where Hashem actually accepts lip-service in lieu of the genuine article, "And we will pay the bulls with our lips" (Hoshei'a 14:3).
But that is not all. Hashem's kindness extends still further. The Zohar (Parshas Va'yeiro) quoting R. Kruspedai, states: "Any man who discusses the topic of Korbonos in shul (in its relevant place in davening) and in the Beis ha'Medrash (during Torah-study) with Kavonoh, is assured by means of a covenant that even the angels who were initially designated to mention his sins for the purpose of punishment, will only be capable of being good to him". So strong is the power of the study of Korbonos, that it can transform a prosecutor into a defence-counsel.
With this we can understand a Gemoro in Megillah (16a). The Gemoro relates how Homon came to dress Mordechai in the royal robes and to lead him through the town riding the royal stallion. Upon entering, he found the Rabbonon seated before Mordechai, who was teaching them the laws of the "kemitzah" (the separation of a fistful of flour from every flour-offering), to be offered up to Hashem on the Mizbei'ach.
"Amazing", remarks the Chofetz Chayim, "Mordechai and the Jews are in mortal danger, and Mordechai can find nothing better to do than to teach his disciples the laws of Korbonos?"
However, with the Zohar we just quoted, he replies, this is easily understood. The merit of the study of the Korbonos is no ordinary merit, but it can even transform a prosecution into a defence-action. And that is precisely what happened here, as is clearly implied in Homon's reply to Mordechai's explanation of what they were doing: "Along came your fistful and pushed away my ten thousand Kikar of silver". Even Homon understood the power of the study of Korbonos! We would do well to take our cue from Homon and recite the Korbonos daily and study them, since that can save us from untold harm and spare us from the most terrible calamities.
Nissan and Joy
From the first of Nissan one should be in a joyous mood, writes the Arugas ho'Bosem, because when Nissan arrives, Hashem wants to redeem us (in Nissan we were redeemed, and in Nissan we will be redeemed), and to sanctify us with His mitzvos. It is a period in which we have the opportunity, through the performance of many mitzvos, to gain His goodwill - through not having chometz in our possession, eating matzoh and morror - as well as the many other mitzvos of the Seder - observing Yom-tov and the various other mitzvos that apply specifically in the month of Nissan. The closer one gets to this time, the happier one should become.
The Secret of Being Happy
Part of the avodah of this month is not to let the rigorous Pesach preparations interfere with the simchah - no easy task to be sure (especially for women); but then who ever said that being a servant of G-d was easy? A pleasure, yes! But easy?
The secret of remaining happy (which incidentally, refers not to an external happiness, but to an internal one) is twofold: firstly to develop a sense of pride and pleasure in being a servant of G-d; and secondly, to realise the high stakes involved (whose heart would not overflow with joy on performing a task for which he has been promised a million dollars - however difficult or unpleasant the task?).
What's All the Joy About?
The Gemoro in Ta'anis (29a) writes that, when Ador arrives, one's happiness should increase, and that therefore, a Jew who has a law-suit with a gentile, should take the opportunity and go to court in the month of Ador.
The connection is not at first clear, until one realises that the joy of Ador is due to the fact that Ador is the time when our inter-relationship with Hashem becomes closer, and that He is our G-d and we are His people. Indeed, there is no greater cause for joy than that. In the month of Ador, so to speak, Hashem is always at our side, so the gentiles stand little chance of winning in this month.
The Two Months of Redemption
Rashi explains that, when the Gemoro writes 'when Ador arrives'..., it means to incorporate the month of Nissan, since both are months of redemption. It is fair to assume that Rashi's source for this statement, is the Gemoro in Megillah, which concludes that, according to Rabban Shim'on ben Gamliel (like whom the halochoh is), in a leap-year we should read the Megillah in Ador Sheini, rather than in Ador Rishon, in order to place one ge'ulah (the redemption from Homon) next to another (the redemption from Par'oh).
The Eliyoh Rabboh carries Rashi's Chidush to the Gemoro's second statement: since Rashi extends the simchah of Ador to Nissan, presumably, the good advice to take a non-Jewish litigant to court in the month of Ador, extends to Nissan too. After all, if Hashem displayed a special closeness to the Jewish people in the month of Ador - in Shushan, He certainly did so in the month of Nissan - in Egypt.
The Two Redemptions
The two redemptions which Ador and Nissan represent, were of course, quite different in character: the first (chronologically) was a ge'ulah that took place following an awe-inspiring series of open miracles in which G-d's mighty Hand was revealed throughout; whereas the second consisted of a string of hidden miracles, in which G-d's Hand remained so concealed, that His Name does not appear once in the Megillah. Perhaps this sequence of the two months of redemption is a hint of things to come. If at the conclusion of the last golus, Hashem, from an unseen vantage point, performed with us hidden miracles, we can look forward to the end of this golus, when He will emerge from His hiding-place, to reveal Himself to us once more, as He did in Egypt - to redeem us from this long and bitter golus "Like the days when you left Egypt I will show you wonders" (Michah 7:15). May the time soon come when He performs the promised series of open miracles in which He demonstrates to us and to the nations of the world that He is One and His Name is One!
"It is the First Month for You"
Commenting on the word "lochem" (for you), the Kli Yokor explains that the possuk comes to teach us that the world was created in Tishri, like the opinion of Rebbi Eliezer (as indeed, we assume in the text of our Rosh Hashonoh Mussaf davening). What the possuk is saying is that, as far as the nations of the world are concerned, the head of the months is Tishri, and it is only 'for you', for the Jewish people, that Nissan was now declared to be the head of the months, to commemorate the miracles of Egypt (which culminated in our becoming Hashem's chosen people).
Just as Hashem ensured that we keep the creation of the world fresh in our minds - by remembering the Shabbos, which it commemorates, so too, did He ensure that we keep the miracles of Egypt fresh in our minds - by remembering Nissan.
This idea conforms superbly with Chazal, who explain in the opening section of Maseches Rosh Hashonoh that, whereas the first of Nissan was the Rosh Hashonoh for Jewish kings (with regard to the years of the king recorded in documents), the Rosh Hashonoh for non-Jewish kings was the first of Tishri.
The Shema and its B'rochos (Part X)
"And Enlighten our Eyes with Your Torah..."
When we ask Hashem to enlighten our eyes in His Torah and that our hearts should cleave to His mitzvos, we are in fact, asking Him to help us to develop both our spiritual eyesight (the intellect) and our emotions, in His service. And that appears to be the deeper meaning of 'the eyes' and 'the heart' whenever they are mentioned in connection with Yisroel - such as by the Tefillin.
It is also amazing as to how often we refer to the heart in this section of davening (no less than nine times during the Shema and its b'rochos). Clearly, serving G-d with our hearts cannot be sufficiently stressed; it is the essence of Torah and Judaism, as Chazal have said 'G-d wants the heart' (Sanhedrin 106b) - He wants to serve Him with devotion and love.
"We Will Rejoice ... in Your Salvation"
Besides the simple meaning - that we will rejoice in the salvation that Hashem will do for us, this phrase also suggests that we will rejoice in Hashem's salvation (see Eitz Yosef and Iyun Tefilah). Hashem already informed Ya'akov that He would go to Exile in Egypt together with him, and following that, there are various references to Hashem sharing in our troubles in golus. Consequently, it is perfectly appropriate to say here that, even more than being happy over our own salvation, we will rejoice over the salvation of Hashem (when He accompanioes out of Galus), when the time arrives.
"And Bring us Peacefully...."
It is written in the commentaries that firstly Hashem will gather the exiles to one place (like He did in Egypt) and then He will lead them to Tziyon. And this explains the order here - 'And bring us peacefully from the four corners of the earth (and then) lead us upright to our land!' (the Dover Sholom).
"And Lead us Upright..."
Upright, as free men, not bent over like slaves. The Iyun Tefillah explains upright to mean without having to fight for it. Someone who has to fight for his land, is called going bent.
The Dover Sholom connects this phrase with the Chazal, who say that the dead of Chutz lo'Oretz will roll via underground tunnels to Eretz Yisroel before getting up at Techiyas ha'Meisim. Therefore we pray to Hashem to lead us upright to our land - alive and not through the underground tunnels after our death. That also explains, he writes, why we say 've'havi'einu le'sholom'. It is because to a live person one says 'le'sholom', as Yisro said to Moshe (Sh'mos 4:18). By a dead person, one uses the word 'be'sholom'.
"And Bring us Near ...
...to your Great Name forever in truth." A B'rayso in the name of Rebbi Eliezer ben Ya'akov taught, 'whenever the words 'netzach', 'selah' or 'vo'ed' appear, they mean literally forever, without a break' (Eiruvin 54a). When Hashem took us out of Egypt and brought us close to His Great Name for the Torah (which is called 'Toras emes'), it would be forever, because that is what He promised us, and that is what the Novi writes in Shmuel I (12:22) "Because Hashem will not forsake His people etc., because Hashem swore to take you to Him as a nation" (Iyun Tefilah) - see also Rashi Devorim 29:12.
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