MARCH 26-27, 2003 5 NISAN 5764
"When a soul will bring a meal offering to Hashem." (Shemot 2:1)
In this week's perashah, we find the description of many offerings (korbanot) that could be offered voluntarily in the Bet Hamikdash. Among these offerings, we learn about the minhah, the flour offering. Regarding this, the cheapest of the offerings, the Torah begins with the words, "A soul that offers," which can also be translated as "when you offer a soul." Rashi explains the reason for this unusual terminology. The more expensive offerings, such as cattle or sheep, were usually brought by someone who could afford them, so these offerings could not be classified as giving one's soul, since it was relatively easy for that person to bring it. The minhah, on the other hand, was usually brought by someone who had little money and may have required months of scrimping and saving. When the poor man brought his offering to the Bet Hamikdash, Hashem considered it as if he offered his soul.
Rabbi Y. Levenstein learns from this idea a profound lesson for us. Let's say we know a man who is burdened with earning a living, leaving him little time to study Torah. Even with this little time, he is tired, and any studying requires great effort. If, nevertheless, this person dedicates the little time he has to study and tries to put his mind to it, this study is very beloved to Hashem. It is more beloved than the wealthy man who can study with more peace of mind, or who has more time available and therefore learns with more depth. The truth of the matter is, in our day and age, sometimes the wealthy man is like the poor man of the older times. The wealthy are so involved in their own burdens that they might find it more difficult to study than a poor man would. In any case, most of us are poor in one way or another. Therefore, Hashem cherishes our learning more than ever. Every moment counts more than a precious diamond. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Reuven Semah
"If a soul will bring a sacrifice" (Vayikra 2:1)
When a person brings a regular sacrifice, the Torah uses the word adam, a man, but when a poor person brings a sacrifice then the word used is nefesh, soul. The Rabbis tell us this means that G-d considers this poor man who struggled so hard to bring a sacrifice as if he brought his very soul to Hashem.
This lesson is not limited only to donating to charity. Rather, anyone who is limited in any field and nevertheless tries his hardest to do something in the service of G-d, even though the actual accomplishment may be modest, Hashem considers the effort as if the person brought his whole self close to G-d.
This should be encouraging to all of us in all our endeavors. If we don't pray so well or read Hebrew fluently and we still try our best, it means that much more to Hashem. If we can't grasp all the subject matter of a class and we still try our best to attend, it's as if we brought our soul to our Creator. This should inspire us onward to improve and expand our involvement in studying, praying and community work since it is so precious in the eyes of Hashem. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Shmuel Choueka
"And the Kohen shall make atonement for him and he shall be forgiven" (Vayikra 4:31)
The Talmud states that when a person brings a female kid he causes himself embarrassment. Everyone who sees him immediately realizes that he is bringing it for his sins, unlike the lamb offering (verse 32) which can be offered for other purposes.
Rabbi Naftali Tzvi Berlin noted that here the Torah's wording is that he shall be forgiven and it does not add the words "for his sin" as it does in reference to the lamb offering. The reason, writes the Netziv, is that when a person brings a female goat he accepts upon himself embarrassment for his transgression although he has another alternative. He can offer a lamb and people will not realize that he has sinned. One who feels embarrassment over his sins is forgiven for all his transgressions. Therefore the Torah states "he shall be forgiven," - he shall be forgiven for all his wrongs. When a person feels embarrassed about his transgressions, he can feel positive about these painful feelings. It shows that he has a strong sense of values and that he really wants to refrain from doing wrong. When a person sees the positive aspects for his embarrassment, he still suffers but it is a fruitful suffering and one that can be coped with. This embarrassment will motivate a person to keep away from wrongdoing in the future. Because it leads to improvement and elevation, a person will feel positive when he experiences this embarrassment. (Growth through Torah)
Question: Why is Uba Lesiyon recited in Minhah of Shabbat?
Answer: Words of Torah were customarily given before Minhah of Shabbat. These words were ended with matters of Mashiah and matters of kedushah (holiness). Uba Lesiyon contains both. (Excerpted from Siddur Abir Yaacob, published by Sephardic Press)
"And if he does not have the financial means for two turtledoves...then he shall bring his offering...the tenth part of an ephah of fine flour for a sin offering" (Vayikra 5:11)
The Hafess Hayim commented that we see from here how the Torah established different requirements for a wealthy person and a poor person. A wealthier person's offering must be worth more money for him to fulfill his obligation. If a wealthy person will bring the offering of a poor person, his offering is not valid and he is still obligated to bring a larger offering. The same is true of our obligation to give charity. The more money you have, the greater your obligation to give charity. Every person is obliged to give a tenth of his income to charity. One who earns a hundred times more than someone else must give a hundred times more charity. This concept also applies to other talents. The greater your intellect, for instance, the greater your obligation to share your wisdom with others. (Growth through Torah)
"If a person will sin inadvertently by doing any of the things that G-d commanded shall not be done." (Vayikra 4:2)
This section of the perashah discusses a person who sins inadvertently, and the korban that he is required to bring as atonement. However, one may also understand the pasuk not referring to an actual sin but rather referring to the misvot that a person performs. The pasuk would then be rebuking the person who performs his misvot in a way that "should not be done." In other words, he may be performing them out of habit or even begrudgingly. He may feel that it's a bother but he does it anyway only because of the obligation that is upon him. This is obviously not the type of performance of the misvot that Hashem requires from us. Each misvah serves a dual purpose. Firstly, we are demonstrating our desire to follow Hashem's commandments and live our lives in the way that He has mandated. Secondly, we are expressing our appreciation for all that Hashem has given us and continues to give us. If someone would pay off your mortgage and then ask you for a tremendous favor, would you not jump at the opportunity to express your gratitude? How much more so must we serve Hashem eagerly and with happiness?
Question: Which misvah would you say you perform the best in regards to the attitude we discussed above? Is there any misvah that, even though you do it, sometimes feels like a burden?
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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