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by Zvi Akiva Fleisher

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Ch. 1, v. 14: "V'hikriv min hatorim o min bnei yonoh" - And he should offer from the turtledoves or from young pigeons - These two species of birds are chosen because they are readily available, just as among animals no exotic ones or in the wild ones are offerings. (Ramban)

Why are turtledoves accepted only when they are older and pigeons only when they are young? Turtledoves are unique in that once they have a mate, if that mate is lost or killed the remaining partner will not mate with any other turtledove. This loyalty is a very meaningful trait. Similarly a young pigeon will always return to its nest, its origins. Other birds, when they notice that their nest was tampered, leave it forever. When they are older they display the negative trait of being very zealous and readily leave their flock. Therefore only the young are accepted. (Rabbeinu Bachyei - Tur)

Ch. 1, v. 16: "V'heisir es muroso b'notzosoh" - And he shall remove its crop with the feathers - Vayikra Raboh 4:3 says that the crop should be removed because it is inappropriate to offer it on the altar since the bird flies into people's fields and eats grain. Albeit that for the bird it is not considered theft, but the grains are if fact "stolen goods." This cannot be an offering for Hashem.

Agra D'pirka #126 writes that we sometimes find a young child taking to Torah and mitzvos in a powerful manner, and when they grow older, seemingly for no apparent reason they lose interest, slowing down or totally stopping their learning and adherence to mitzvos. This can be attributed to their father's paying their "s'char limud" and feeding them with ill-gotten money, as they were dishonest in their business or work ethic. He sources this concept form the ideology given for the law given on our verse.

Rabbi Leib Cywiak once told Rabbi Aharon Kotler that he heard in the name of the Sfas Emes that if there is a yungerman who learns Torah with great diligence and then his Torah has no continuity, it is because he was financially supported by his father-in-law with ill-gotten funds. Rabbi Kotler responded in the affirmative, stating that this is based on a gemara Yerushalmi and the Holy Zohar.

Ch. 2, v. 11: "Ki chol s'ore v'chol dvash lo saktiru mi'menu isheh laShem" - Because any leavening and any honey shall you not burn for Hashem - In Breishis 3 we find that Chavoh was enticed by the snake to partake of the fruit of the eitz hadaas tov vora. In verse 6 it says that she saw that the (fruit of the) tree was good as good and a delight to the eyes. We thus see that having something look very appealing and being very tasty has its great drawbacks. Here our verse states that a meal offering that contains leavening, which obviously makes it rise and gives it a pleasing look, and honey, which is sweet and tasty, are likewise prohibited, shades of the primal sin.

Ch. 4, v. 3: "Im haKohein hamoshiach yecheta l'ashmas ho'om v'hikriv" - If the anointed Kohein will sin to bring guilt on the nation - The gemara Sanhedrin says that Kiung Dovid sinned three times and was forgiven, while King Sho'ul sinned once and was not forgiven. Commentators explain that Sho'ul's sin was one that was uniquely a king's mitzvoh he transgressed, and not so King Dovid. This makes it harder to forgive. Similarly here, we might say that when the anointed Kohein sins specifically an "ashmas ho'om," he may bring …… for atonement, but when his sin is uniquely a Kohein Godol sin he is not so readily forgiven. (n.l.)

Ch. 4, v. 3: "V'hikriv …… par" - And he shall offer ……an ox - With very few exceptions the sin offerings are brought for unintentional sins. This is because an animal is a creature that does not speak. The person who sins unintentionally is considered as one who has sinned with his physical component only. The spiritual side, the intellect, has not grasped that this is a sin and transgressed it intentionally. This is why sin offerings do not bring atonement for intentional sins. The spiritual side, the nefesh, is the source of speech, while the physical component is like the animal, and does not speak. It is therefore most appropriate to offer a creature that does not speak and bring about atonement for a sin on the unintentional level. (Baal Ho'akeidoh)

Ch. 4, v. 22: "Asher nossi yecheta v'ossoh achas mikol mitzvos Hashem Elokecho asher lo sei'o'senoh" - When a minister will sin and will do one of the precepts of Hashem your G-d that is not to be done - A leader can have one of two approaches when dealing with matters pertaining to the public. He can either be ambitious and have great aspirations, looking for any and every opportunity to bring benefit to the masses who are under his domain, or be extremely careful to not engage in any progressive behaviours until he has checked them under the microscopic scrutiny of his judgment. The former accomplishes many things for the public, albeit that he might have slipped and instituted and acted incorrectly from time to time. The latter, although very unlikely to have transgressed, nevertheless has lost many opportunities to bring good for the public. The former, an improper act, can even bring a "chatos," as his mistake was unintentional (verse 24), while the latter has transgressed through inaction, only an "oloh" unintentional sin.

"Asher nossi yecheta," is explained by the gemara Horios 10b as "Ashrei," fortunate. Although he slipped, the masses gained tremendously, while the later, through his timid behaviour has refrained from bringing much good to the public. (Oznayim laTorah)

Ch. 4, v. 27: "V'im nefesh achas techeta vishgogoh mei'am ho'oretz" - And if a soul of the common people will sin unintentionally - It is only because the person is an "am ho'oretz" that his act is considered unintentional. A Torah scholars unintentional sin is "oloh zodone," considered equal to an intentional act. (Kli Yokor)

Ch. 5, v. 17: "V'os'soh achas mikol mitzvos Hashem asher lo sei'o'senoh" - And will do one of the mitzvos of Hashem that are not to be done - That which is not to be done is not one of the mitzvos of Hashem. The intention of the verse is that he has done something contrary to the mitzvos. However, on a literal level we can say that the verse refers to a person's justifying a totally improper behaviour by rationalizing to himself that this is actually a mitzvoh. This is a "mitzvoh" that is not to be done. (Taam Vodaas)

Ch. 5, v. 26: "V'nislach lo …… asher yaa'seh l'ashmoh voh" - And he will be forgiven …… that which he will do to be guilty by it - Since the Kohein brings the offering and he will be forgiven, as our verse states, why does it go on to say "asher yaa'seh" in the future tense? "Asher ossoh" would seem to be more in place.

Once a person sins and has not yet received cleansing of his sin his soul becomes sullied and coarse. It is only after he has been forgiven that he can properly grasp the true enormity of his sin. The verse therefore expresses itself in the future, that if he were to consider sinning again he truly fathoms the depth of the sin. (Chozeh of Lublin)

He similarly explains the verse, "Ki imcho haslichoh l'maan tivorei" (T'hilim 130:4). It is only when there is forgiveness that Hashem is truly feared.



See also Oroh V'Simchoh - Meshech Chochmoh on the Weekly Parsha, Chasidic Insights and Chamisha Mi Yodei'a

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