MARCH 15-16, 2002 3 NISAN 5762
"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. The 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. Rabbi Shmuel Choueka
"He shall return the robbed item that he robbed." (Vayikra 5:23)
Our perashah speaks about the korbanot. The word korban should be translated to mean an offering. The root of the word korban is kareb - coming near, because an offering is the means to bring ourselves closer to Hashem, and elevate ourselves (R' Hirsch). For this reason, the common translation, "sacrifice," does not capture the essence of the word. At the end of the perashah, we learn about the asham gezelot, the guilt offering for thefts. The Torah says that the person who steals must return the stolen money and also give an offering (korban) called an asham gezelot. This teaches us that if a man steals, he sinned not only against man but also against Hashem.
A true story was told recently of a retired businessman in Israel who came to the Rabbi for a Halachic ruling. The man was a wholesaler who supplied food to the local food stores for many years, and he now wanted to repent. The Rabbi asked him what sin he had done. The man recounted that for many years he would supply food in large bundles, but he would put less than he was supposed to. For example, if he was to put twenty loaves of bread, he would put seventeen. He made a calculation before he arrived at the Rabbi's house, and it came to hundreds of thousands of shekels. He now came to the Rabbi with his wife, not knowing what to do. How will they be able to pay it back? The Rabbi did not have any good news. "What can I do for you? The Torah says you must return the robbed item! This is the halachah." Suddenly the man stood up and asked his wife, "Maybe we can sell our beautiful home and, with the proceeds, pay all the money back!" His wife did not hesitate for too long before she agreed to this plan that required great self-sacrifice. Two people who, for their entire lives, lived in a nice home would have to spend the rest of their retirement years in a rented apartment.
On their way out, the Rabbi stood up for them and said, "Both of you are a great protection for the Jewish nation. For a Jew like you who observes this misvah of returning stolen money with such sacrifice, I must stand up. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Reuven Semah
"You shall not cause any leavening or any honey to go up as an offering to Hashem... You shall salt your every meal-offering...on your every offering you shall offer salt" (Vayikra 2:11-13)
Leavening and honey enhance a dish by adding to its taste. Salt is different; salt brings out the taste of the food itself. HaRav Mordechai Gifter a"h explains that Hashem wishes to teach us the lesson of the salt. What is that lesson? We must not look beyond what Hashem grants us to serve Him. Rather than looking for external ways to fulfill our duties to Hashem, we must use our own unique qualities, talents and abilities. Although these talents may be lying dormant, it is our obligation to salt them and bring out their full flavor and potential.
Me'am Lo'ez (Melachim I 21:14) records the story of a man who failed to utilize his potential to its fullest and was severely punished. Nabot lived next door to King Ahab. Each year he would go up to the Bet haMikdash and perform the services for all of Israel with his melodious voice. All those who made the pilgrimage to the Bet haMikdash would gather to enjoy the beautiful service he performed.
One year, Nabot decided to stay home for the holidays. That year, a desire for Nabot's property overtook King Ahab, and eventually, with the help of Queen Izebel, he had Nabot executed.
Why did Hashem allow for the terrible murder of Nabot? Nabot disappointed all of the visitors to the Bet haMikdash by not performing his customary rendition of the holiday services. Nabot failed to use his talents to serve Hashem and sanctify His name.
Hashem has bestowed upon each person many blessings in the form of unique talents, characteristics and capabilities. With these come obligations; obligations to pursue and develop our G-d given qualities and use them to serve our Creator. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi David Maslaton
"And Hashem spoke to him out of the Ohel Mo'ed" (Vayikra 1:1)
Rashi explains that this "voice" ceased at the boundaries of the Ohel Mo'ed. He adds that this was not because the voice was weak, since it was an amazingly powerful sound. Hashem intercepted this sound so that it would not be heard outside of the Ohel Mo'ed. Why did Hashem create such a powerful voice only to miraculously disrupt its emanation?
Rabbi Y. Neiman offers a profound insight into this matter. This voice was not miraculously intercepted, rather, one is required to be within the confines of the Ohel Mo'ed in order to hear the voice of Hashem. The sanctity of the Ohel Mo'ed provided a unique atmosphere for increased spiritual growth. Consequently, only Moshe - and not all of B'nei Yisrael - was worthy of this special opportunity. Hashem's voice exists everywhere. One must be attuned to it. The Ohel Mo'ed symbolizes any place or any time in which one involves himself in Torah study. The holiness emanating from this lofty endeavor so thoroughly permeates one's essence that he is transformed into another person with unique capabilities. He is able to hear the sounds of holiness and to process the Divine message of Hashem. (Peninim on the Torah)
"When a ruler sins" (Vayikra 4:22)
Rashi cites the Sifri which translates the word "asher - when," as implying "ashrei - fortunate and praised." This refers to a generation whose ruler directs himself to bring an atonement for a sin committed in error. How much more so when he repents of his deliberate sins! Why should the entire generation be credited for having a penitent leader? What role does the community play in its leader's desire to publicly seek atonement for his transgressions?
Rabbi Moshe Shternbuch cites Rabbi Yisrael Salanter who explained this in the following manner. Some communal leaders do not follow in the prescribed Torah way. Their followers, however, fearful of reprisal, fail to point out the apparent errors of their leadership. They even go so far as to blandish them with a public display of respect. As a result of this pretentious relationship, the leaders begin actually to believe that they are righteous, noble and deserving of their accolades. Consequently, when a leader comes forth to publicly decree his errors, it is indicative of his community's aversion to his activities. Therefore, it is a credit to the community when the leader publicly atones for his transgressions, for it shows that they will not put up with a leader who does not follow the proper path. (Peninim on the Torah)
This week's Haftarah: Yeshayahu 43:21 - 44:23.
Our perashah detailed the various types of korbanot (sacrifices) to be brought in the Mishkan and the Bet Hamikdash. In this haftarah, Hashem rebukes Israel for not fulfilling these misvot. Hashem also expresses His wish that the nation would heed his words, and not need to bring sin offerings any longer.
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