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MARCH 18-19, 2005 8 ADAR II 5765

Shabbat Zachor - This Shabbat we will read an extra portion of Torah which commands us to remember what Amalek did to us, and our obligation to wipe him out. All men are required to hear this special reading and even women should try to fulfill this obligation.

Pop Quiz: How did the slaughtering of a bird korban differ from other animals?


"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

"And [Hashem] called to Moshe." (Vayikra 1:1)

We begin the third book of the Torah called Vayikra. Most of this part of the Torah speaks about the korbanot (sacrifices). These korbanot were offered up in the Bet Hamikdash in Jerusalem. As I write this article from my desk in my Jerusalem hotel room, the very mention of the Bet Hamikdash and the korbanot invokes very deep feelings inside of me.

The perashah begins with Hashem calling to Moshe. The Midrash says that in fact Moshe had ten names. One of his names was Yered ("bring down") because he brought down the Torah to the Jews. Another name was Cheber ("to attach") because he attached the Jews to the Torah. But when Hashem called to him, he used the name Moshe, which was the name that Pharaoh's daughter, Batya, gave him when she pulled him out of the Nile. What was there about this name that justified its privileged status among the names? This is important to know because names have a deep significance in Jewish philosophy. A name expresses the essence of a person. Since Moshe Rabenu had ten names, he must have had a completely multi-faceted personality. If so, what was the special aspect of his essence that is represented by his name Moshe?

Rabbi Yaakob Haber (an important Rabbi in Buffalo, NY) gives us some insight into this question. Rabbi Moshe Feinstein was posed a question. We know that if a person has sinned against Hashem and he makes teshubah, he should not talk about it to others. This is because talking about it shows insufficient shame of his past deeds. The questioner wrote that he is a person who made teshubah, and now that his son is growing up, he would like to tell his son of his past deeds in order to explain how valueless they were. R' Moshe's response was a definite "No!" The reason was that a child will follow not what a parent says but what a parent does. The son's reaction would be, "So my father was non-observant for a time and later did teshubah. I'll do the same." We can talk all we like, but it is what we do which will influence others.

Batya, Pharaoh's daughter, did a great act. She saved Moshe's life while defying her father's edict against the Jews. She put her life on the line. That's called mesirut nefesh (sacrificing one's own life). This trait is the most important one for a leader to have, and this trait clung to him from this one brave deed of Pharaoh's daughter. She was rewarded in that the name she gave Moshe was the one used by Hashem in calling to him, and the name by which we all know him.

We can learn from this that our deeds have a tremendous effect, more than we realize, especially on our children. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Reuven Semah


"And [the Kohen] shall remove the crop (of the bird offered as a sacrifice) and he shall cast it beside the altar." (Vayikra 1:16)

Regarding the burnt offering of cattle, which eat only from the feeding bin of their owner, it is stated, "But the innards and the legs he shall wash with water...and he shall burn it on the altar" (verse 13). In the case of the fowl, however, which eat stolen food (birds fly onto fields of strangers and eat what they can find) it states that the Kohen shall cast the entrails away, for they have eaten stolen food.

The Alshich notes that this lesson - that stolen goods have no place in the Sanctuary - is taught by the offering of a fowl, an offering usually brought by the poor. This is significant because it emphasizes that even someone who is very poor has no right to steal. He should ask for charity if he is not able to earn a living. But his poverty does not give him license to take from others without their permission. (Love Your Neighbor)


"And [Hashem] called to Moshe." (Vayikra 1:1)

It has long been Jewish tradition to begin a child's Humash education with Parashat Vayikra. The Yalkut Yehudah maintains that this custom is based upon the essence of this perashah. The korabnot, the focus of this perashah, represent sublime purity. Similarly, young children are pure and innocent of all sin. Let those who are pure involve themselves in Torah study through this perashah, which deals with man's pure activity and duty - sacrifices to Hashem.

The Avnei Ezel employs the theme of sacrifice to address a parent's necessary attitude towards Jewish education. In order to properly inculcate Torah values in Jewish children, one must make sacrifices. One must pay for his child's education even at the expense of providing for his own basic needs. The obligation to provide for the future of one's children can only be fulfilled by making the most comprehensive Torah education available to our children during their early years. This will guide them along the suitable course to follow throughout life. Introducing children to learning through the perashah dealing with korbanot instructs parents that they must exert every effort and make every appropriate sacrifice in order to imbue a child with Torah values.

To take this idea further, compromise of the parent's established lifestyle, so that it coincides with their child's Torah studies, represents another form of sacrifice. Parents will often demand that their children adopt a lifestyle to which they themselves do not subscribe. This not only sends mixed messages to children, but also eventually causes discord in the home. In order for a child to properly benefit from a Torah education, it is incumbent upon the parents to conform to the requirements of this education. Parents must be willing to sacrifice more than money in order to ensure their children's future. (Peninim on the Torah)


Question: Why do we read from the Sefer Torah on Shabbat, Mondays and Thursdays?

Answer: In order that a person should never go three days without Torah. (Sefer Ta'amei Haminhagim Umkorei Hadinim)


This week's Haftarah: Shemuel I 15:1-34.

Since this week is Shabbat Zachor, and we read a special maftir discussing the command to wipe out Amalek, we read a haftarah on the same topic. The haftarah tells of the war that King Shaul waged against Amalek. He was victorious, but he had mercy on their king, Agag, and brought him back as a prisoner instead of killing him. The next morning, the prophet Shemuel rebuked Shaul for not fulfilling Hashem's command to completely wipe out Amalek. Shemuel then killed Agag, king of Amalek.

The Gemara teaches that on the previous night, Agag's wife had conceived and later gave birth to a child. Since Agag was alive that night only because Shaul neglected to kill him on the battlefield, Shaul was held accountable for enabling Amalek to continue. Therefore, it was up to Mordechai, a descendant of Shaul, to correct Shaul's mistake and battle Haman, the descendant of Agag. This maftir and haftarah are always read on the Shabbat before Purim in order to link the story of Amalek to the story of Haman.

Answer to Pop Quiz: The kohen used his fingernail instead of a knife to slaughter the bird.

A quick tip to boost the power of your prayer. Hazal tell us (Masechet Baba Kama Daf 92A) that Hashem loves the tefilot of one Jew for another so much that anyone who prays on behalf of a fellow Jew with similar needs will have his prayer answered first. A special service has now begun to provide people with names of others who find themselves in a similar predicament. You can call with complete anonymity and get the name of someone to pray for and give the name of someone that needs our prayers. The name of the service is Kol Hamitpalel. Categories include: Marriage; Income; Health; To have children etc.

Call to 646-279-8712 or email (Privacy of email limited by the email address)

Please pass this message along. Tizku L'misvot.

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