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MARCH 21-22, 2003 18 ADAR II 5763

Pop Quiz: What was the shemen hamishchah (oil of anointment) used for?


"And the flesh of his thanksgiving peace offering must be eaten on the day of its offering" (Vayikra 7:15)

The thanksgiving offering known as the korban todah must be eaten on the day it is offered on the altar. The Rabbis ask: The Todah is in the category of shelamim, a peace offering, and any other shelamim may be eaten on the next day also. Why is the todah eaten only on that day? The Gerrer Rebbe answers that the todah is to thank Hashem for a miracle that happened to an individual Jew. However, new miracles happen every day. It wouldn't be right to partake of a sacrifice for yesterday's miracle when new ones have just occurred.

Rabbi D. Goldwasser illustrates this with the following story. There was an observant soldier in the Austrian army, years ago in Europe. He was granted a one day leave and he was required to be back that same night. He went to visit his parents. However, that night was Purim and they insisted that he stay to hear the Megillah. He knew he would get into big trouble if he didn't return on time, but his parents wouldn't give in. He went to ask the Rabbi. The Rabbi did not hesitate for a moment - "Obey your parents."

The soldier remained until the next morning, after the second Megillah reading. In great trepidation he traveled back to the base, knowing that he was in big trouble. To his utter amazement, the base was utterly deserted. The soldier later found out that every single one of his comrades had contracted food poisoning from the previous night's meal. They all went to the hospital.

We say each day in the Modim blessing in the Amidah, "We thank you, Hashem, for Your miracles that are with us every day. Sometimes these miracles are obvious, sometimes not. It's important to remember that hidden ones are occurring constantly. You can't eat yesterday's todah offering today, because each day brings new miracles. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Reuven Semah

"The Kohen shall wear his linen tunic...and he shall remove the ash" (Vayikra 6:3)

The Kohen who did the service of separating the ashes from the altar would first change his clothing, and then remove the ashes outside the camp. This second part of the service seems to be a menial task, and as such, he was not supposed to do it with his regular garments. Yet it seems that it was the same Kohen who would take out the ashes, just that he had different clothing for this less glamorous task.

The lesson we can learn is that in the eyes of Hashem, any service, however menial it seems to be, is important and is given over to the same Kohen who does the regular sacrifices. In a king's palace, we will have a cook, waiters, busboys, cleaning help, etc. - each with a higher or lower level job. In the service of Hashem, any time we serve him, we are doing HIS WILL. Therefore, the same Kohen will do all aspects since they are all ways to serve Hashem. We should remember this whenever we do misvot which may not seem so glamorous! Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Shmuel Choueka


"If you shall offer it for a thanksgiving-offering" (Vayikra 7:12)

Rashi explains that the thanksgiving-offering is offered by the following categories of people: those that survived crossing the sea or the wilderness, or those released from prison, or one who recovers from sickness. For these one is required to offer thanks, as it is written regarding them in Tehillim 107.

The four are mentioned in Tehillim in one order and in the Gemara (Berachot 54b) in a different order. Tosafot explains that the order in Tehillim is according to the extent of the danger experienced, and that the order in the Gemara is according to the most common. The order Rashi lists is neither the same as in Tehillim nor in the Gemara. Why does he use this order? There is a popular saying that "Experience is the best teacher." When one is teaching about expressing gratitude to Hashem, the lesson is best understood and readily accepted by one who has personally experienced Hashem's miracles.v Consequently, the first time Moshe taught about a korban todah - a thanksgiving-offering - he cited examples of miracles which the people had experienced so that afterwards they would compare them to future events to determine the proper occasions for a korban todah.

Therefore, Rashi lists the cases in the order in question, because undoubtedly Moshe explained them to correspond to the Jews' own experience. The first of the four cases which they had personally experienced was "yordei hayam" - the crossing of the sea. Afterward they personally experienced "holchei midbariot" - traveling the desert. Then they experienced the third, "habushei bet asurim" - incarceration in prison, for though they were originally meant to travel the desert in a very short time and go on to Eress Yisrael immediately, due to the sin of the spies, Hashem imprisoned them for forty years in the desert.

Finally, Rashi mentions also the fourth category of a "holeh shenitrapeh" - a sick person who is healed. Though they had not yet experienced this, a miracle of such magnitude certainly requires a korban todah to thank Hashem. Appropriately, Rashi mentions only the first three categories in plural, because this was something that they Jews had all experienced collectively. (Vedibarta Bam)


Question: Why is Shir Hashirim read on Friday nights?

Answer: Shir Hashirim describes the love between the Creator and the Jewish people. It compares this to the love between a man and a woman. It is read on Shabbat, since our love of G-d is enhanced on this special day. (Excerpted from Siddur Abir Yaacob, published by Sephardic Press)


This week's Haftarah: Yehezkel 36:16-38.

The regular haftarah for Parashat Sav, which is from Yirmiyahu, discusses the korbanot. The message is that following Hashem's commandments is more beloved to Hashem than all the sacrifices that we could bring.

However, we read a special maftir this week which discusses the purification process for someone who has become impure through contact with a dead body. In the haftarah, Hashem describes how He will cleanse the Jewish nation from their spiritual contamination, and help them to do teshubah and follow the correct path. Just as the ashes of the Parah Adumah were sprinkled on an impure person to make him pure again, Hashem also says, "I shall sprinkle pure water on you so you will be cleansed."

For anointing the mishkan, its utensils and the kohanim.

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