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Haftarah: Shemuel I 15:1-34

MARCH 23-24 2007 5 NISAN 5767

Pop Quiz: What types of birds may be offered as a korban?


"He called to Moshe and Hashem spoke to him from the Tent of Meeting, saying" (Vayikra 1:1)

Many reasons have been given to explain why Hashem commanded us to bring Korbanot (sacrifices), and we pray daily for the opportunity to begin offering Korbanot once again in a rebuilt Bet Hamikdash. Rabbi Nissan Aleprt z"l discusses the meaning of Korbanot for our own times.

It is interesting to note the sequence in which the various types of Korbanot were presented to Moshe, as it does not seem to follow the order we would have expected. Moshe is first told of the voluntary offering, the Olat Nedabah. He is then commanded regarding the Shelamim (a thanksgiving offering). Then comes the sin-offering which is brought due to a sin committed without intent. Next is the Korban Asham, brought for a sin committed willfully.

At first glance this order seems puzzling. One would have thought it more logical to begin with the Korbanot that are obligations, and then, only afterward, it would be appropriate to discuss the Korbanot that are voluntary. We should have been told first what we must do according to the law (min hadin) and then afterward it would be right to discuss voluntary laws (lifnim mishurat hadin). After all, shouldn't a man first be concerned with paying his debts and only afterward with the giving of gifts? The explanation is that the Torah is addressing one who wishes to save himself from one day committing the sin of theft and having to bring a Korban Asham. The way to do that is to set one's goal much higher, that is, to strive to go beyond the letter of the law. One must strive to be like the Olah, totally dedicated to Hashem. Only then will one be assured of never coming to do his fellow harm, never causing him even the slightest financial loss and being completely distant from evil.

The order of the Korbanot is to teach us the first priority is to improve and elevate ourselves so that we will not sin. Instead of seeking cures to specific misdeeds, we should focus on personal growth in Abodat Hashem, service of G-d. If we are totally dedicated to Hashem, that will save us from unintentional sins. If one is grateful for what G-d gives him, he will not become a common thief who must seek atonement. 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 vnab (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 every meal-offering you shall season with salt, and you may not discontinue the salt of the covenant of your G-d upon your meal-offering. On all your sacrifices you shall offer salt" (Vayikra 2:13)

In contemporary times, our tables are compared to an altar. Therefore, it is customary to dip bread over which we make "hamosee" into salt. Why is it dipped three times?

The world stands on three pillars: study of Torah, service of G-d (korbanot - sacrifices) and deeds of kindness (Abot 1:2). Salt is connected with these three things:

1) The way to succeed in Torah study is to "eat bread with salt" (Pirkei Abot 6:4).

2) Salt was used in the Bet Hamikdash on all offerings.

3) Salt is a preservative. Our Sages advise, "melah mammon haser" - if one wants to "salt" (preserve) his money, he should give a portion to sedakah.

The Hebrew word "lehem" is the term used for the source of our physical sustenance, as King David says, "Bread sustains a man's heart (Psalms 104:15). In addition, it is also an analogy to our spiritual sustenance, as King Shelomo says, "Lechu lahamu belahemi" - Nourish yourself with my bread, i.e. Torah (Proverbs 9:5).

The dipping of bread three times in salt represents the dependence of a person's material and spiritual well-being on the three pillars upon which the world stands. (Vedibarta Bam)

Answer to Pop Quiz: Turtledoves and young doves (Torim and bnei yonah)

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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