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Simcha Groffman

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Parashas Vayikra

Remember the Consequences

"I will be rewarded for every mitzvah that I do, and I will be punished for every aveyra. Every mitzvah has a reward and every aveyra has a punishment. Reward for the mitzvos; punishment for the aveyros."

"Chaim, you are repeating yourself."

"I know, Abba. I am trying to remember something very important. Each mitzvah has its reward and each aveyra has its punishment. It is easy to forget this principle, therefore I am repeating it many times to remember it."

"That is a very good idea, Chaim. Do you realize that the Torah recognized this problem over 3000 years ago?"

"Really, Abba? In what way?"

"Korbonos. Sefer Vayikra begins by discussing the offerings that were brought on the mizbeach in the Mishkan and the Beis HaMikdash. Many meforshim elaborate on the reasons behind these sacrifices. The Ramban illuminates the discussion by referring to the point that you are trying to remember."

"Please tell me about it, Abba."

"With pleasure, Chaim. A person's deeds are a product of thought, speech, and action. If he commits an aveyra, chas v'shalom (Heaven forbid), he brings a korbon as an atonement. He rests his hands (semicha) on the head of the animal to recall the sinful action that he did with his hands. He verbally confesses, to atone for the sinful words that he spoke. Finally, he burns the internal organs, which are the organs of thought and desire. The limbs, which represent his hands and feet that did the aveyros, are also consumed by the fire. The blood of the sacrifice is poured on the mizbeach, to remind the sinner that his blood, and not the blood of the korbon, should have been spilled. Hashem, with infinite kindness, accepted a substitute (so to speak). He allowed the sinner to live, and receive a kapora (atonement) with this korbon."

"That is amazing, Abba. Hashem is so kind."

"Yes, Chaim. It is plain to see that the same korbon which provided a kapora for past mistakes, also served as a reminder of the punishment for aveyros and a deterrent against future sins. When a person sees an animal die for his mistakes, he realizes the severe consequences of committing an aveyra. This serves as a reminder to him of the punishments for sins. So you see, Chaim, even in the times of the Mishkan, people needed to be reminded of sechar (reward), and onesh (punishment) for mitzvos and aveyros."

"The reminder was much more vivid, Abba. Bringing a korbon to the mizbeach was a real- life experience. It took time, money, thought, and effort."

"True, Chaim. Even today, we can gain some of the benefits of those korbonos by learning about them. We can experience sacrificing a korbon by making it come alive when we learn about it in the Beis HaMedrash. We can incorporate the korbonos into our morning and afternoon tefillos. We can use Hashem's proven method to remind us of the consequences of aveyros."

"Thank you so much, Abba! I never realized that there was so much to be gained from sacrifices. It is not a sacrifice at all, rather an opportunity to grow and come close to Hashem."

"Excellent Chaim! That is the root of the word korbon - 'karov' - to come close. A korbon provides a kapora, wiping away the sin. One who is free of sin is closer to Hashem. He also has a reminder and motivator not to repeat his sin. That promotes an even more intimate relationship with the Almighty. We have so much to gain from korbonos."

"Thank you, Abba! With your help, I feel closer to Hashem already!"

Kinderlach . . .

We all need reminders to remember the important things in life. Reward and punishment is one of the foundations of Torah and mitzvos. How do we remember this? With korbonos. They are a re- enactment of the aveyra, reminding the sinner of the terrible consequences that he has been spared. Only Hashem's unlimited chessed allows him to substitute the animal and receive an atonement. Learn about these korbonos, kinderlach. Use them to remind yourself of the consequences of aveyros. B'ezras Hashem, this will prevent you from sinning, and bring you much closer to The Holy One, Blessed Be He. Remember the consequences.


"All leaven and honey shall not be burned as a fire offering to Hashem" (Vayikra 2:11). The Sefer HaChinuch zt"l (Mitzvah 117) states that the reasons behind this mitzvah are very deep and hidden. Still, the mitzvah can be understood on a simple level. This was indeed his purpose behind writing his sefer, to explain the simple meaning of the mitzvos to young people who are just beginning their mitzvah observance. Korbonos (sacrifices) are meant to arouse the feelings of the one who is bringing the offering. Specifically, the action that he is required to perform should be and example of how he should be acting himself. Leaven is a result of leaving the dough sit too long. Therefore, this mitzvah is coming to teach us that we must be quick. Do not put off doing a mitzvah. As the Torah states (Shemos 12:17), "And you shall guard the matzos." Rashi quotes the Mechilta who explains, "Guard the mitzvos -- if a mitzvah comes to you, do it immediately." Do not let it become chometz.

Kinderlach . . .

Do we do our mitzvos immediately? When Imma tells us to get up and get ready for school, we must begin right away. "Imma can I have five more minutes of sleep?" That is the yetzer hora talking, trying to get us to be lazy. Do we do our homework as soon as we come home from school? How about our jobs helping in the house? When we see someone who needs help, do we run to help him? Do we make our brochos right away, or do we wait? Are we on time for tefillah? Are we early for tefillah? Don't let our prayers become chametzdik. Zerizus (being quick) is so important that the Tur begins his monumental book with a quote from Pirkei Avos (5:23). Yehuda Ben Teima says, "Be strong as a leopard, light as an eagle, swift as a deer, and mighty as a lion to do the will of your Father in Heaven." The "Mesillas Yesharim" relates that the lazy person does not do evil, but rather evil overtakes him because he does nothing to stop it. Kinderlach, let us all do what we are supposed to do RIGHT AWAY. May our zerizus enable us all to overcome the yetzer hora and accomplish great things in life.

Parasha Questions:

How does a Kohen do "melika"? (Rashi 1:15)

Why does the Torah use the word "nefesh" when referring to the mincha offering? (Rashi 2:1)

How does a Kohen do "kamitza"? (Rashi 2:2)

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