March 20, 1999 3 Nisan 5759
by Rabbi Shmuel Choueka
"When a man among you brings an offering" (Vayikra 1:2)
When the Jews were instructed on the laws of sacrifices, they were told that even a non-Jew could bring a korban, sacrifice. Th only difference between his korban and ours is that we are allowed to bring burnt offerings and peace offerings, shelamim and olah, whereas the gentile may only bring a burnt offering, olah. Indeed, even if he says he's sacrificing a peace offering, it can only be brought as an olah, burnt offering.
The lesson in this is that the non-Jewish view of religion differs from ours drastically. They understand religion to be only to G-d, only in a holy endeavor, not in the normal course of everyday life. They feel if one wants to be close to G-d, he cannot engage in the everyday pursuits such as eating or having children. Therefore, their sacrifice is a burnt offering, only for the altar. We, however, believe that one must sanctify his everyday living in line with Hashem. We eat and we make a berachah. We get reward because it's a misvah. In business we perform many commandments. Our duty is to take the mundane and make it spiritual. Therefore we can bring a shelamim, peace offering, where part goes on the altar and part is eaten by man. Our mission is to live life the fullest in the ways of Hashem. Shabbat Shalom.
by Rabbi Reuven Semah
"[Hashem] called to Moshe...saying" (Vayikra 1:1)
For the most part, our perashah places its focus on the laws of korbanot, the sacrifices offered in the Mishkan. However, the first pasuk of the perashah has an important message. It says in the Talmud (Yoma): Rabbah says, from where do we know that if your friend tells you something, that you may not tell it to someone else, unless he gives you express permission to do so? It is learned from our pasuk, for it says, "And Hashem spoke to him from the Tent of Meeting saying." This means that Moshe was not allowed to tell over to the Jewish people the Torah that he was taught unless he was told to do so. This is learned from the word "lemor - saying," which means, to say over to the Jewish people. If this could be said about the words of Hashem to Moshe, which are mainly said to Moshe for the sake of the Jewish people, how much more so is it true when your friend tells you something in private? How much more should you regard it as private information and not tell anyone that which was told to you privately. If we would observe this simple rule, how much less gossip would be spread, how much more quickly will the Mashiah come! Shabbat Shalom.
"They shall throw the blood on the altar all around...and the fats" (Vayikra 1:5,8)
Why are the blood and fat of korbanot offered on the altar? Blood symbolizes excitement - speed, activity and mobility. Fat represents laziness, passivity and inaction. Both characteristics serve an important purpose. One should be active and excited in doing a misvah or act of kindness. On the other hand, one should be "lazy" and desist from doing something improper.
The Torah contains positive commandments and negative commandments. For the performance of a positive commandment one should act with speed and excitement. When a person is tempted, G-d forbid, to transgress a command of the Torah, he can avoid it by being "lazy" and inactive. One who commits a transgression apparently has confused his approach. In the instance of the positive commandments which he neglected, he was lazy, and in the case of the negative which he violated, he acted with energy and vigor. Placing the blood and fat on the altar functions, thus, as a reminder of the purpose that each trait serves and that each should be used as G-d intended. (Vedibarta Bam)
"If the king commits a sin by unintentionally violating one of Hashem's commandments which he should not have done" (Vayikra 4:22)
Rashi comments that the first word in our verse, asher (if) comes form the word ashrei (fortunate). Fortunate is the generation in which the king brings an offering when he transgresses unintentionally. All the more so will he regret it if he does something wrong intentionally.
Why does the Torah not mention this in reference to the High Priest or Sanhedrin, whose sacrifices are dealt with in previous sections of this perashah? The answer is that the High Priest had a high level of sanctity and the members of the Sanhedrin were great Torah scholars.
Therefore, these factors contributed to their regretting the wrongs that they did. But the king was a person with much power, and power gives a person such high feelings about himself that he is unlikely to admit that he has done anything wrong. For this reason, when the king with unlimited power admits that he has erred and regrets what he has done, it is fortunate for his generation.
People who are power hungry have a strong tendency to deny making mistakes. When such a person is in a position of authority he is likely to consider himself so perfect that whatever he does and says must be correct. Admitting that one has erred takes much courage. The more power you have, the greater the importance of having the intellectual honesty to admit that you have made a mistake. (Growth through Torah)
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