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by Zvi Akiva Fleisher

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Ch. 1, v. 1: "Vayikra" - And He called - Rashi points out that the letter Alef of Vayikra is diminutive, indicating that Moshe wanted to limit the honour he would have from eternalizing his personally being called by Hashem for a private conversation. By writing a small Alef only the Vov-Yud-Kof and Reish are readily noticeable, giving an impression of this word being "Va'yi'ker," happenstance communication.

Commentators are puzzled by this not being done earlier in parshas Yisro, where we have, "Vayikra eilov Elokim min hohor" (19:3), and "Vayikra Hashem l'Moshe el rosh hohor," and in neither place is the letter Alef reduced.

1) Rabbi Yitzchok of Vorke answers that in both verses in Yisro, when Hashem spoke to Moshe, all the bnei Yisroel likewise heard Moshe being addressed. If Moshe were to shrink the Alef it would have the opposite affect. Everyone hears that Moshe is being addressed by Hashem, and Moshe minimizes it, i.e. makes a public display of his modesty. Here, as Rashi points out, the communication was in the "ohel mo'eid," and Hashem's voice, so to speak, was only heard by Moshe. Where no one else heard the communication it is appropriate to downplay "Vayikra."

2) Since the messages conveyed in parshas Yisro were ones telling of the greatness of the bnei Yisroel, the former that they were to become a nation of Kohanim and sanctified people, and the latter, to warn them to not ascend the mountain, obviously out of fear that they would be so spiritually charged that they might lose control, it would have been disrespectful of the bnei Yisroel to say that Hashem's communication was one of happenstance. (Nirreh li)

3) Rashi on Dvorim 2:17 says that the term "dibur," when used by Hashem's communicating with Moshe is an expression of love, as compared with "amiroh." (This seems contrary to the common understanding that "amiroh" is soft while "dibur" is harsh. However, this was explained in an earlier edition of Sedrah Selections on parshas Dvorim, citing the B'eir Baso'deh.) The term "dibur" is not used in either verse in Yisro, so there is no need to diminish "Vayikra," while here the verse continues with, "va'y'da'beir Hashem eilov." Where the communication is a "dibur" one, there is a greater need to play it down. (Nirreh li)

4) The Medrash says that we should begin children's study of Torah with the laws of the sacrifices, "Yovo'u t'horim v'yaasku b'taharoh," children, who are pure, should busy themselves with the study of pure sacrifices. Here Moshe felt himself small compared to the pure sin-free children. (Nirreh li)

5) Hashem or Elokim appears in conjunction with the "vayikra" calling in Yisro. In such close proximity to Hashem's Holy Name there is no need to show modestly (in a textual sense), as one is nothingness when in proximity of Hashem. Here, Hashem's "calling" to Moshe is in a pronoun prefix form only, hence the need to diminish the communication. Only afterwards do we have Hashem's Name appear, "va'y'dabeir Hashem eilov." (Nirreh li)

Ch. 1, v. 2: "Odom ki yakriv mi'kem korbon" - A man from among you who will offer a sacrifice - Rashi explains that the word "odom" is used here, rather than one of the other terms for "man" to teach us that a sacrifice that is acquired through theft is not to be brought. Just as primary man, Odom, offered sacrifices that were not stolen, as he was the only person on earth for a time, and nothing he had could be stolen, so too, the sacrifices we offer must be theft-free.

Alternatively, Toldos Avrohom offers an explanation based on the gemara Y'vomos 61a, Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai says that the term "odom" refers only to a ben Yisroel, as per the verse "Odom a'tem" (Yechezkeil 34:31). (Ish, gever, or enosh can also mean a non-ben Yisroel) The Rambam hilchos maa'seh hakorbonos 3:2 writes that a ben or bas Yisroel or an "evved" can offer any of the types of sacrifices the Torah lists, while a non-ben Yisroel can only offer an "oloh." This section discusses offerings including those brought for atonement (see Rashi verse 4). It is therefore very befitting to predicate this with "odom," as a non-ben Yisroel cannot offer an atonement offering.

Ch. 1, v. 3: "Lir'tzono" - With his willingness - Rashi's comment on the word "leimore" in verse 1 is that Moshe should tell Hashem whether or not the bnei Yisroel accept His commands. This seems quite puzzling, as the bnei Yisroel are bound by the mitzvos whether they like it or not. Also, by other mitzvos we find no such question being raised. However, specifically here by the laws of offering sacrifices this is well understood in light of the "lirtzono" requirement. This is why Hashem asked for a response. (Imrei Shefer)

Ch. 2, v. 2: "V'komatz mishom m'lo kum'tzo" - And he should take a handful from there - The procedure of removing a handful of the "minchoh" offering was done as follows: The Kohein would place his hand into the meal offering and remove whatever would come into the palm of his hand with his closing his four fingers, save his thumb, over the palm of his hand, thus retaining the amount removed. He would then use both his free thumb and his small finger to rub off all protruding material held by the middle three fingers against his palm. This is the portion that is offered on the altar. When the meal offering is flour mixed with oil, it is a simple procedure. However, when the meal offering is flour and oil that were baked into breads that were then folded and ripped into smaller pieces, "p'sisim," this was a monumental task. If when rubbing his thumb and small finger he would totally knock out a chunk of bread, including the part that was retained within his three middle fingers' grip, the "k'mitzoh" would be disqualified as "cho'seir," missing a part. If he would knock off some of the chunk of bread but some would still protrude beyond the three-finger grip, it would also be disqualified as "yesser," extra material that is beyond the "k'mitzoh" grip. To do this service properly the Kohein would somehow have his thumb and pinky act like razor sharp blades, accurately slicing off all that protruded, but without removing the slightest bit that was within the "k'mitzoh" grip. It is no wonder that the gemara Yoma 49b says that "k'mitzoh" is the difficult service among the difficult services in the Mikdosh.

Allegorically, we might say that "k'mitzoh" of chunks of bread is symbolic of the pursuit of a livelihood, as bread symbolizes all a person's sustenance. One should not pursue amassing more than is needed, while at the same time, being too austere also has its challenges, as it can easily upset family dynamics, bring to depression, etc. This daunting challenge of "cutting the bread to a razor sharp tolerance of not having too much, nor too little," is indeed an "avodoh koshoh mei'avodos koshos she'b'mikdosh." (Nirreh li)

Ch. 4, v. 20: "V'chi'per a'leihem haKohein v'nislach lo'hem" - And the Kohein will atone for them and it will be forgiven for them - Oros haGR"A entry Beis Hamikdosh writes that there was a great advantage when the Beis Hamikdosh was extant and sacrifices were offered for atonement over later, when the Beis Hamikdosh no longer stood, and forgiveness came as a result of repentance. Through a sacrificial atonement the sin was totally eradicated, not even leaving over a stain, while repentance alone, although it brings forgiveness and one is not punished for his sin, nevertheless, a spiritual stain remains.

It seems that this insight explains the double expression of our verse, "v'chi'per, v'nislach." "Kaporoh" has the connotation of cleansing, so besides "v'nislach," it is forgiven, there is also total cleansing.

A simple reading of the Rambam at the beginning of hilchos teshuvoh seems to indicate that with repentance alone the sin is totally eradicated.

Even according to the GR"A, if one were to not only repent, but also study the laws of a "chatos" or "oshom" offering related to his sin, i.e. at the time the Beis Hamikdosh was standing this was the atonement offering and its order of processing, would the GR"A accede that all vestiges of the sin are erased, based on the concept of "U'n'shalmoh forim s'fo'seinu" (Hoshei'a 14:3)?



See also Oroh V'Simchoh - Meshech Chochmoh on the Weekly Parsha, Chasidic Insights and Chamisha Mi Yodei'a

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