by Zvi Akiva Fleisher
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SEDRAH SELECTIONS PARSHAS VA'YIKROH 5762 BS"D
Ch. 1, v. 1: "Va'yikroh" - The diminutive letter Alef allows for this word to be read "va'yikor," - He happened. This is the term used when Hashem appeared to Bilom (Bmidbar 23:4). Moshe, in his great modesty, wrote this Alef small. Why didn't Moshe do this the first time we find the word "va'yikroh" when Hashem spoke to Moshe, in Shmos 19:20?
The gemara N'dorim 38a says that Hashem only rests His Holy Spirit upon a person who is wise, strong, wealthy, and modest. Rabbi Chaim of Volozhin asks why the traits of strength and wealth are required. (The Rambam in his "shmoneh prokim" says that strong means that he masters over his inclination and wealthy means that he is happy with his lot.) He answers that if a person is not strong and wealthy his modesty can be suspect. Perhaps because he lacks these two traits he is timid, but does not truly have the characteristic of being humble. However, if one is both strong and wealthy, and still behaves modestly, we realize that his humbleness is genuine. When Hashem spoke to Moshe in parshas Yisro it was before he had financial wealth. Although the bnei Yisroel left Egypt with untold wealth, Moshe busied himself with the remains of Yoseif. Only after Hashem said to him "p'sol l'cho" (Shmos 34:1), from which we derive that the "p'so'les," the etched out bits of the tablets, a very precious stone called "sanpirin," were given to Moshe, was he wealthy. Only after this would Moshe's modesty be clearly recognized. (Rabbi Shmuel Wolkin)
Ch. 1, v. 1: "Va'y'da'beir Hashem eilov LEIMORE" - The last word of our verse indicates that Hashem spoke to Moshe so that he transmit the words to the bnei Yisroel. Rashi says that Moshe told this to the bnei Yisroel as a reproof. At first glance these words seem to be an extreme compliment. Rabbi Yechezkel Sarna answers that this compliment is a most powerful reprimand. When one receives a compliment he has to do a soul-searching inspection to see if he is truly deserving of such an accolade, and if not, he must shape up.
Ch. 1, v. 2: "Odom ki yakriv MI'KEM korbon laShem" - The Kuzari writes that he asked how bringing a sacrificial offering brings one closer to Hashem, as the word KORBON comes from the word form KOROV, close. He received the following response: Just as you realize that a human has two components, his physical body and his spiritual soul, and without consuming physical food the soul departs from the body, even though the logic behind this is not understood, you know that it is so, so too, although you don't understand how offering a sacrifice to Hashem connects one to Hashem, it is nevertheless true.
This concept is alluded to in the words of our verse. "Odom ki yakriv ... korbon laShem" -when a person offers a sacrifice and it brings him close to Hashem, this is just like MI'KEM, from yourselves, the human, that physical food keeps the soul connected to the body. (Rabbi Moshe Shlomo, Magid of Vilna)
Ch. 1, v. 5: "V'shochat es ben habokor" - When one brings a sacrifice he should envision its slaughtering, etc. as if these acts were being done to himself. This drives the evil inclination out of a person. This is alluded to in our verse. "V'shochat," and he should slaughter, "ben habokor," whose numerical value of 359 is the same as "soton." (Parp'ro'os L'chochmoh)
Ch. 2, v. 13: "Ba'melach" - The word "melach," salt, is mentioned in this verse three times. This alludes to the three places that salt was placed in the Mikdosh. The gemara M'nochos 21b says that salt was placed in the "lishkas ha'melach" for salting the hides of sacrifices, on the altar ramp for salting the organs of the sacrifice just before they would be placed into the altar fire, and at the top of the altar for salting the "kometz," the fistful of the meal offering that was separated for burning on the altar. (Binyan Shlomo of Vilna)
The Shulchan Oruch O.Ch. 166:5 says that because our table where we eat is equated to the altar, we should place salt upon it. The "Bo'eir Hei'teiv" says in the name of the Kabbalists that when one has made a blessing on bread he should dip it 3 times into salt. Perhaps the 3 times correspond to the 3 times "melach" is mentioned in our verse. (Avodas Gershuni)
Ch. 4, v. 2,3: "Nefesh ki secheto vishgogoh, V'hikriv" - When one unintentionally sins (from among a specific group of sins) he should bring a sacrificial offering as atonement. The gemara Yerushalmi Makos chapter 2 says (abridged) that the Torah was asked what should be done to a soul that has sinned. The Torah responded that it should bring a sacrifice. Hashem was asked and He responded that it should repent. This is alluded to in T'hilim 93:5, "Eidosecho ne'emnu m'ode l'veis'cho no'avoh kodesh Hashem l'orech yomim." Your testimony, the Torah, its counsel (to bring a sacrifice) is very trustworthy. However, this is limited to "l'veis'cho no'avoh kodesh," only when Your Holy Edifice is existent. "Hashem," Your counsel to repent is "l'orech yomim," always applicable. (Rabbi Shlomo Zalman, Magid of Vilna)
Ch. 4, v. 3: "Im haKohein hamoshiach yecheto l'ashmas ho'om" - The gemara Yoma 87a states that one who brings merit to the public is safeguarded from sinning. Assuming that the anointed Kohein was a person of great spiritual stature, how indeed did he come to sin? The answer is "l'ashmas ho'om," because the common folk have sinned. The gemara Avodoh Zoroh 4b says that King Dovid would not have sinned with Bas Sheva, but from the Heaven it was decreed that he sin so that he would teach the masses to repent by example. (Cha'yei Odom in his eulogy on the GR"A)
The above-mentioned gemara says the same regarding the anointed Kohein, referring to Aharon's involvement with the golden calf. We can thus interpret the words of our verse as follows: "Im haKohein," if Aharon haKohein, or "hamoshiach," King Dovid the anointed, will sin, it is to teach the public, "l'ashmas ho'om." (Rabbi Avrohom Kramer, brother of the GR"A)
The Meshech Chochmoh explains our verse with the seemingly puzzling words of Targum Yonoson ben Uziel. He writes that the Kohein Godol sinned "b'mik'r'vei korban chovas amo d'lo ch'hil'ch'sei," - when he brought the obligatory sacrifice of the nation against halacha. This is understood with the words of the M.R. Shmos 8:2. The medrash brings the verse in Yirmiyohu 23:24, "Im yiso'seir ish b'mistorim va'ani lo er'enu n'um Hashem?" The medrash interprets these words to mean that if a person will sin with idol worship in a clandestine manner, Hashem will make his sin known to the public. Read "er'enu," I will see him, as "ar'enu," I will display him. Sinning with idol worship in a hidden manner is stated in Dvorim 27:15, "Orur ho'ish asher yaa'seh fesel uma'seichoh toavas Hashem maa'sei y'dei chorosh v'som ba'so'ser."
How indeed has the Kohein Godol come to sin accidentally, since he has at his disposal the "urim v'tumim," a tool for Divine guidance? Add to this the assurance that "raglei chasidov yishmore" (Shmuel 1:2:9).
The Meshech Chochmoh answers that this is the intention of the Targum Yonoson ben Uziel. The Kohein Godol sinned by bringing the offering of Yom Kippur that is processed in the Holy of Holies improperly. This was a major bone of contention between the Pharisees and the Sadducees to the point that the Mikdosh court made the Kohein Godol swear that he would process the incense as per the opinion of the Pharisees (see mishneh Yoma chapter 1).
Since no one was allowed to accompany him during the services done in the Mikdosh (Vayikroh 16:17), if he strayed from the proper service, it was done clandestinely. This is equated by the medrash with idol worship, as the whole approach of the Sadducees was one of not believing in the tradition of our Rabbis, "Torah sheb'al peh." Hashem brings his sin to the attention of the public by making him come to a wrong ruling unintentionally. The cause for this is "l'ashmas ho'om," that he processed their atonement sacrifice improperly, thus invalidating it, and their sin is still not forgiven. The Meshech Chochmoh adds that with this we can understand why in verse 6 it says "es pnei poroches HAKODESH," that the blood is sprinkled towards the face of the curtain that stands in front of the HOLY chamber, but by "par he'elem shel tzibur" (4:17) it leaves out HAKODESH. The word HAKODESH is mentioned here to point out that his original sin began in the Holy of Holies.
Ch. 4, v. 3: "Im haKohein hamoshiach yecheto l'ashmas ho'om v'hikriv al chatoso" - As mentioned earlier, we must explain how the anointed Kohein came to sin in the first place. We can answer that he did not actually sin, just that the common people who do not know halacha well thought that he sinned, "l'ashmas ho'om." Even in this circumstance the leader must react as if he had sinned, "v'hikriv al chatoso." (Rabbi Yeruchom Leib Perlman, known as the "godol" from Minsk)
This is not to be taken literally to the point that the Kohein bring a sacrifice when it is not halachically warranted. A proper application of this concept is to be found in Igros Moshe O.Ch. 1:96. Someone wrote to Rabbi Moshe Feinstein zt"l, admonishing him for being driven to his Yeshiva on Friday afternoon after candle lighting time. Rabbi Feinstein, after profusely stating that he didn't mind in the slightest being admonished by someone who had the proper intention of fulfilling the Torah requirement to admonish your fellow Jew, writes that there is not the slightest tinge of wrongdoing and not even "maris ho'ayin," something that is technically proper to do but looks like an improper act. In spite of this he writes that he would "bli neder" never ride in a car again from the time of candle lighting.
Last week's question: Ch. 37, v. 1: "Va'yaas B'tzal'eil" - How old was B'tzal'eil when he made the Mishkon? The gemara Sanhedrin 69b says that he was 13 years old. See Rashi on Divrei Ha'yomim 1:2:20.
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