Parshat
Vayikra

A Student Publication of the Torah Academy of Bergen County
Parshat Vayikra            11 Adar II 5763              March  15, 2003              Vol.12 No.21


In This Issue:

Rabbi Moshe Stavsky
Ely Winkler
Jesse Dunietz
Eitan Rapps
Rabbi Howard Jachter

This week’s issue of Kol Torah has been dedicated by Dr. Stuart and Ellen Shaffren
Lizecher Nishmat Sarah bat Moshe A"H Sara Altman, beloved Bubbe of Miriam (Hirschman), Eliezer, and Dani, whose shloshim ended on Aleph Adar Bet.




Internal Conflict
by Rabbi Moshe Stavsky

Grappling with the commandment to obliterate the Nation of Amelek is an issue that concerns sensibilities.  That the Torah would obligate us to destroy an entire nation, men, women and children is not an easy thing to understand or explain.  On one level we must surrender our sense of moral rectitude to the Ratzon Hashem (Will of Hashem), and at the same time we have an obligation to try to understand the laws and values of the Torah as best as we humanly can. This can hopefully enable us to learn lessons from Mitzvot, even though we admittedly do not fully comprehend them.
The Torah describes Amalek’s attack on Bnai Yisrael  as “Asher Karcha Baderech,” “that happened upon you on the way.” A number of Midrashim comment on the word “Karcha.” Rashi, quoting the famous Chazal, describes what Amalek did through the Mashal (Parable) of the hot bathtub, and how Amalek “cooled us down.” Additionally, Chazal see in this word Amalek’s belief that everything is attributed to “Mikreh,” “chance.” What these understandings have in common is that they attribute to Amalek this notion of “Bitul,” devaluing that which has importance.  Am Yisrael had just been charged, by becoming the Am Segula, to bring meaning and the ultimate value to humanity. Amalek represents the devaluation of our role, as well as our connection to Hashem. The Gemara refers to Haman as “Boozi ben Boozi” which is not a comment on his drinking habits, rather that he inherited the Mida of “Bitul” from Eisav who denigrated the Bechora to Yaakov, when it says “Vayivez Eisav Et Habechora,” “And Eisav spurned his birthright.”                  N          In his Sichot Mussar, Rav Chaim Shmulevitz traces the evil personified by Amalek to an earlier time. The Torah relates how Yaakov fled his parent’s house to Padan Aram after receiving the Brachot from Yitzchak. Chazal describe how Eisav dispatched his son Elifaz to kill Yaakov. Upon reaching Yaakov he was confronted by Yaakov with the treachery and evil deed he was about to commit. Elifaz replied that he in fact had a duty to carry out the murder in order to fulfill the Mitzva of Kibud Av. Although Yaakov deftly rescued himself by giving Elifaz all his money, Rav Chaim sees in the argument put forward by Elifaz the kernel that grew into Amalek. He exhibited the ability to twist and pervert the meaning of the Torah to justify our desires, even if it entails murder.
Grappling with the commandment to obliterate the Nation of Amelek is an issue that concerns sensibilities.  That the Torah would obligate us to destroy an entire nation, men, women and children is not an easy thing to understand or explain.  On one level we must surrender our sense of moral rectitude to the Ratzon Hashem (Will of Hashem), and at the same time we have an obligation to try to understand the laws and values of the Torah as best as we humanly can. This can hopefully enable us to learn lessons from Mitzvot, even though we admittedly do not fully comprehend them.
The Torah describes Amalek’s attack on Bnai Yisrael  as “Asher Karcha Baderech,” “that happened upon you on the way.” A number of Midrashim comment on the word “Karcha.” Rashi, quoting the famous Chazal, describes what Amalek did through the Mashal (Parable) of the hot bathtub, and how Amalek “cooled us down.” Additionally, Chazal see in this word Amalek’s belief that everything is attributed to “Mikreh,” “chance.” What these understandings have in common is that they attribute to Amalek this notion of “Bitul,” devaluing that which has importance.  Am Yisrael had just been charged, by becoming the Am Segula, to bring meaning and the ultimate value to humanity. Amalek represents the devaluation of our role, as well as our connection to Hashem. The Gemara refers to Haman as “Boozi ben Boozi” which is not a comment on his drinking habits, rather that he inherited the Mida of “Bitul” from Eisav who denigrated the Bechora to Yaakov, when it says “Vayivez Eisav Et Habechora,” “And Eisav spurned his birthright.”                  N          In his Sichot Mussar, Rav Chaim Shmulevitz traces the evil personified by Amalek to an earlier time. The Torah relates how Yaakov fled his parent’s house to Padan Aram after receiving the Brachot from Yitzchak. Chazal describe how Eisav dispatched his son Elifaz to kill Yaakov. Upon reaching Yaakov he was confronted by Yaakov with the treachery and evil deed he was about to commit. Elifaz replied that he in fact had a duty to carry out the murder in order to fulfill the Mitzva of Kibud Av. Although Yaakov deftly rescued himself by giving Elifaz all his money, Rav Chaim sees in the argument put forward by Elifaz the kernel that grew into Amalek. He exhibited the ability to twist and pervert the meaning of the Torah to justify our desires, even if it entails murder.
 

Moshe's Modesty
by Ely Winkler

The opening word of this week’s Parsha, Vayikra, the last letter, the Aleph, is smaller than the rest.  Many Meforshim suggest possible answers as to why this is so.  Many believe that the small Aleph reflects the modesty of Moshe and how that should be an influence on us.  Moshe had wanted to write Vayikar, that God “chanced” upon Moshe, as it is used when Hashem appeared to Bilam.  Hashem instructed Moshe to write Vayikra since He called directly to Moshe.  In his modesty Moshe wrote Vayikra, but with a small Aleph.
Rav Bunim of Psischa said that Moshe thought of himself as just a normal person standing on a high roof.  He himself was not any higher in spirituality then the rest of Bnai Yisrael, but was elevated to a higher position.  He did not see himself as a “big Aleph,” but rather a small one.  Moshe saw Hashem as the “big Aleph,” and always remembered that.  This can be a lesson to all Jews as well.  Not to see yourself as a “big Aleph,” but to see yourself as the “small Aleph,” and to care about Hashem and others.
There is a comment in the Midrash Tanchuma explaining how anyone who runs after honor and glory will find that honor and glory run away from him.  However, the Midrash goes on to say that anyone who runs away from honor and glory will be chased by them.  This was true about Moshe.  However, if someone does not want honor, why will it chase after him?  The Sefat Emet suggests that Moshe was not declining the honor at all.  Moshe realized that he was being honored for his qualities and skills, which all came from Hashem.  So, Moshe accepted the honor he got and, instead of regarding it as his own, he credited it to the One who really deserved it, Hashem.  Honor, therefore, chased after him, because honor knew that Moshe would make sure everyone knew that only Hashem deserves true honor.  In a world filed with people seeking glory and credit for that which really comes from Hashem, this first word of Vayikra teaches us a great lesson.
 

True Leadership
by Jesse Dunietz

This week’s Parsha discusses numerous Korbanot. Among them are the different Chataot that were to be brought on various occasions.  In Perek 4, Pasuk 22, the Torah says: “Asher Nasi Yechetah, Vasa Achat Mikol Mitzvot Hashem Asher LoTei’asena Bishgaga, Vasheim,”  “When a leader sins, and commits one of all the commandments of Hashem, his God, which may not be done –unintentionally – and becomes guilty.”  Rashi, quoting Sifra, relates the word Asher to Ashrei: “Ashrei Hador Shehanasi Shelo Notein Lev Lihavi Kaparah Al Shigigato, Kal Vachomer Shemitcharet Al Zidonotav,”  “Fortunate is the generation whose leader seeks out forgiveness for his unintentional sins; Kal Vachomer, will he regret his deliberate sins.”  Rashi believes this entire concept of the leader’s Chatat is very positive for the entire generation.
Rav Menachem David of Amshinov asks an interesting question on Rashi. Why is it a positive thing for a Gadol Hador to sin and repent?  Wouldn’t it be better for the leader not to have sinned in the first place?  Why does Rashi seem to imply that sinful leaders are beneficial?
Rav Menachem answers that, indeed, it would be far less beneficial to have leaders who have not sinned.  “Perfect” leaders cannot relate to the people.  They cannot understand others, and will criticize and look down on others’ faults, because they lack the experience of sining and repenting.  Therefore, it is beneficial to the people that their leader comprehend sin, because through that very sin, he can understand their own faults.
However, Rav Avigdor Boncheck points out in What’s Bothering Rashi? that Rashi does not say, “fortunate is the Nasi.”  It is never appropriate to rejoice in sin, and the Nasi is never pleased that he has erred.  The nation, on the other hand, can be called “fortunate.”  They are truly fortunate to have such a leader.
This is the true meaning of leadership.  Jewish leaders must have both sides of the coin: they must be humble enough and human enough to admit their faults and relate to the people; yet always strive to remove those very faults that make them human, and come closer to personal perfection.  Rashi teaches a profound and timeless lesson about the meaning of leadership, which is something for all leaders to strive for.
 

The Holy Curtaini
by Eitan Rapps

In Perek 4 of Sefer Vayikra, the Torah talks about a Kohen who sins.  Perek 4 Pasuk 6 says “Vitaval Hakohen Et Etzbao Badam Vihiza… Piney Parochet Hakodesh,”  “The Kohen should dip his finger in the blood and sprinkle it towards the Holy Curtain, in order to ask for forgiveness.”  Perek 4 Pasuk 13 talks about when all of Bnei Yisrael sin.  The Torah then goes on to talk about how the Kohen asks for forgiveness for the nation.  In 4:17 it says “Vitaval HaKohen… Et Pnei Haparochet,”  “The Kohen should dip his finger in the blood and sprinkle it towards the curtain.”  Why doesn’t the Torah in 4:17 say the Holy Curtain as it did earlier? 
Rashi answers with the following parable. There is a country where the people rebel against the king.  If the minority of the people rebel, then the king’s government is still intact.  However, if the majority of the people rebel, then the government can no longer exist.  Here, when the Kohen Gadol sins, the status of the Curtain is still a “Holy Curtain.”  However, when all of Bnei Yisrael sin, the holiness of the curtain leaves.  We can learn that we should not sin, because if we do, Hashem’s holiness will depart.  However, there is always room to do Teshuva, through which the holiness will hopefully return.
 

Halacha of the Week
The Rama (Orach Chaim 795:1) writes that one should have somewhat of a festive meal during the night of Purim in addition to the meal we eat the next day.

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