A Student Publication of the Torah Academy of Bergen County
Parshat Metzora/Pesach 10 Nissan 5763 April 12, 2003 Vol.12 No.26
In This Issue:
Mr. Baruch Speiser
Rabbi Yosef Adler
Rabbi Chaim Jachter
Why Are We Reading This?
by Mr. Baruch Speiser- Computer Department
It is most noteworthy that the Mitzva that is discussed in the most detail in the Chumash is that of Tzaraat. No other commandment receives the glorious attention to detail as does this section of the “mystical leprosy” that is listed in this Parasha and its predecessor. It appears odd; for all the Torah desires to teach us, it devotes almost one hundred and fifty Pesukim to a set of Mitzvot that are currently impossible to keep. Why did Hashem not save the many details of the Metzora for the Torah Shebal Pe? It seems to the average student that the Torah should have devoted much more of its attention to a Mitzva that seems to be more central to the core Torah theology, such as the intricate details of Shabbat (which indeed are presented only in the Torah Shebal Pe). In contrast to the laws of the Metzora, only three or four of the Avot Melacha are even mentioned in the Torah Shebichtav.
This phenomenon may be startling, but a better and similar question can be posed if one considers the textual structure of the Haggada. The method used to describe the exodus from Egypt during Maggid seems difficult. Instead of reading the words of the Torah in Sefer Shemot that describe the enslavement and redemption of our people, the core section of Maggid focuses on the exegesis of the passage recited during Mikra Bikurim. Rather than start from the story of Yosef and read through Matan Torah, we devote our time to explaining Pesukim from Arami Oved Avi, a passage not even presented in the Torah until forty years after the Exodus when our ancestors where on the verge of arriving in the land of Canaan.
It is within this framework of queries that we might begin to see an answer. If one understands the division of the Torah, a possible answer emerges. This is because the Torah Shebichtav is not an exhaustive “Book of Laws.” The word “Torah” means “a teaching,” or more precisely, a lesson. The Torah Shebichtav is not usually preoccupied with the details of laws. For example, the Chumash should explain all the details of how precisely to perform the rather important commandment of Shechita. While the Chumash clearly requires the performance of this ritual for the Bait Hamikdash, as well as everyday life, it is rather spectacular that the Torah Shebichtav devotes no more than a breath’s worth of information about Shechita and saves it for the Torah Shebal Pe. The Torah Shebichtav is primarily concerned with lessons of morality and a general picture of how to conduct a Jewish life. As Shechita is a humane way to tend to our needs, the general presentation of this Mitzva teaches us the need to respect life of all kinds. This is why the Torah Shebichtav incorporates the stories of Sefer Bereishit, as Maasei Avot Siman Libanim.
With this in mind, we are presented with a seeming contradiction of terms. Our Parsha, which should be concerned with morals, is dictating laws; and our Haggada, which should be recounting the narrative of the Exodus, is expounding the story akin to the way laws are extracted from verses.
This is not a contradiction, however. In fact, it only supports our theory even more. Our Parasha is certainly concerned with moral. One merely needs to note the punishment that Miriam received to see that the Chumash is deeply concerned with the violation of the laws of Lashon Hara. The Chumash emphasizes these laws with extreme detail. Even though one may not see the consequences of his or her actions in today’s times, the notion that the Torah devotes more time discussing our punishment than any other Mitzva in the entire Chumash should do nothing less than make us think twice before we parse our lips to speak.
From the opposite angle, the Haggada is doing exactly what it is supposed to do. The commandment of Sipur Yetziat Mitzrayim is “Vehigadita Levincha,” “And you should recount the story to your children.” What does this mean? Certainly it cannot mean to read over the narrative, otherwise the commandment would be, “Vikarata Levincha,” “to read it to your children.” If so, the deed would be performed similarly to that of Zechirat Amalek, which is read from the Sefer Torah with a minyan. This is not the case, nor the objective. The objective is to tell the story in our own words in order to recap the story, and be grateful for that which Hashem did for us. It is for this reason that we read Mikra Bikkurim, the recital of thanks and praise for all of the good that our Creator has done for us. The recital of the Haggadda must be more than a recital – it must be extracted, pulled out from the ancient text and into our own lives. It must be derived and framed within our own perspective; so logically the narrative text of the Chumash will not suffice.
We see that our Parsha is highly relevant in our preparation for the upcoming Chag. We should strive to take its lesson and implement it in our Sedarim, utilizing its message as a way to make our Sedarim introspective and meaningful.
Cycle of Life
by Moshe Zharnest
The beginning of Parshat Tazria describes the laws concerning childbirth, to which the Midrash comments, “What wonders God performs for a child! If a man is in jail for one day he grows impatient and wishes for his freedom, the child is imprisoned within his mother’s womb for nine months, yet he does not want to leave, for God protects him there.”
Rabeinu Bechaye writes that a man lives through three worlds. The first world is within his mother’s womb, where God shows him wondrous things; a candle shines above his head, and he knows the entire Torah. He is shown Gan Eden and all of its chambers, and he is told that if he is pious in the world into which he shall be born, he will ultimately come to Gan Eden and will be honored with the righteous people there. However, he is also told that if he is wicked he will go to Gehenom with the other evil men.
Even after hearing this, the child does not want to leave his mother’s womb. When the time comes for the child to be born he cries, “don’t send me out to that world full of sorrow.” If he comes out into this world, and develops his mind and recognizes the Torah and Mitzvot and Hashem’s wonders, his reward will be very great. When the time comes for him to leave this world, when he must die, he once again weeps for he does not want to leave.
These two worlds are each limited in time. In his mother’s womb he may stay for nine months, and the most this can be extended to is one year. In this world, a man’s time is also limited. But in the third world, the World to Come, there are no limits for it is eternal.
The Emotion of Yizkor
by Rabbi Yosef Adler
There is a widely accepted practice that we refrain from reciting Kel Malay Rachamim during the month of Nissan. In many Shuls, the Shabbat preceding Rosh Chodesh Nissan includes a long line of those asking to make a Kel Malay Rachamim as they may be observing a Yahrtzeit sometime during the month. When faced with a Kevura on Chol Hamoed we refrain from eulogizing. Yom Tov is Mevatel Aveilut and the prohibition to eulogize even spills over to the rest of the month of Nissan. And yet, we recite Yizkor on the last day of Pesach. Doesn’t its recitation seem somewhat incongruous with the spirit of the day?
The Rav, zt”l, often highlighted two different types of Mitzvot. There are some Mitzvot in which the Kiyum Hamitzva and the Maase Hamitzva are identical. Both the Maase Hamitzva and Kiyum Hamitzva of Matza is to eat a Kizayit of Matza. The same is true of Tefillin and Lulav. However, there are some Mitzvot in which the Maase Hamitzva is not equated with the Kiyum Hamitzva. Regarding Shofar the Maase Hamitzva is the Tekiya but its Kiyum is one of Tefilla. Fasting on a Taanit Tzibur is a Kiyum of the Mitzva of Teshuva. When one observes Purim or Pesach, the Kiyum is the Mitzva of Vinikdashti Bitoch Bnai Yisrael. So too vis-à-versa the Mitzva of Simchat Yom Tov. The Maase Hamitzva is manifested by consuming meat and wine but the Kiyum is an internal one: Lihiyot Sameyach Vitov Lev.
It is difficult for me to say this because I, Baruch Hashem, have not found it necessary to recite Yizkor as yet. But I would humbly suggest that the inner feelings associated with Yizkor should be one of Simcha. There are those who define the Mitzva of Peru Urevu as not only having children but grandchildren. After the grandchild is born the grandparent fulfills his Mitzva of Peru Urevu. In relationship to Talmud Torah, our obligation is Vehodatem Livanecha Ulivnei Vanecha Yom Asher Omedet Bachorev. Similarly, in the context of Sipur Yetziat Mitzrayim, the Torah states Ulimaan Tisaper Biaznei Bincha Uvein Bincha Et Asher Hitalalti Bimitzrayim. When parents and grandparents see their children and grandchildren participate at a Seder and fulfill the Mitzva of Shalosh Regalim Tachog Li Bashana, they can rest secure in the knowledge that they have succeeded in their mission of Vihodatem and Ulimaan Tisapru. This knowledge will assure the fact that Bigan Eden Tihay Menuchatam. Although the Minhag to recite Yizkor is one of sorrow, the Kiyum of the Mitzva is one of inner Simcha and joy, and hence is appropriately recited on Pesach.
Additionally, our collective Kel Malay on behalf of the Kedoshim who perished during the Holocaust or the Kel Malay recited on behalf of members of Chayalei Tzahal who passed away Al Kiddush Hashem could be viewed in this light. As they dwell in the Yeshiva Shel Mala and see that not only has Judaism survived the attempts of Hitler, Yimach Shimo, but has flourished and prospered and seen a revitalization of Torah study, this brings a sense of inner joy to their Neshamot and should bring Simcha and Nechama to those reciting Yizkor.
by Danny Shulman
The Midrash, in explaining the Pasuk of “Arami Oved Avi,” states that Lavan did worse for Klal Yisrael than Paroh did because he tried to destroy all of Bnai Yisrael, and not just the males. The only source that indicates Lavan tried to destroy all of Bnai Yisrael is a Midrash that says that Lavan tried to poison Eliezer, however a Malach saved him. This Midrash, though, is very difficult to understand.
Rabbi Adler, quoting Rav Soloveitchik, explains the statement of “Arami Oved Avi” that says an episode that appears in Parshat Vayetze, Chapter 31. Lavan confronts Yaakov about leaving his house suddenly with his daughters and not even saying goodbye. After a brief argument they make a treaty and build a monument. Yaakov calls this monument a “galaid” and a Lavan refers to it as “Yigar Sahaduta.” Rashi explains that these words mean the same type of monument.
However Rav Soloveitchik offers a different explanation. He says the different names signify a subtle distinction between two different types of agreements. One type of agreement is done to unify the parties for a common good and acceptance of each other, while the other is done to create a separation between the two. For example, two countries would make the first type of agreement in a time of peace to ensure that the peace endures in order to help the two countries grow. On the other hand, the second type of agreement would be made to end a war in order that the two countries have a minimal lhisurhgoinldsvjlnnlnllevel of acceptance and coexistence. Yaakov was making an agreement with Lavan to separate from him in a peaceful way of coexistence. However, Lavan had different plan. He wanted a completely unifying agreement, making the families of Lavan and Yaakov into one nation.
The Ramban asserts that the Avot were not Shomrei Torah outside Eretz Yisrael. Yet, Yaakov slaughtered the Korban he gave after making this agreement with Lavan. Why would Yaakov slaughter the animal if he did not follow Halacha outside Eretz Yisrael? The Ramban answers that Yaakov was really making a statement by slaughtering his Korban. Kashrut is a distinction between Jews and Gentiles and is a preventive measure to ensure that the two societies do not intermingle excessively. By slaughtering the animal, Yaakov, was demonstrating that the Brit with Lavan was only done as a preventive measure and done to separate the two nations. Lavan wanted to unify them and combine their cultures, but Yaakov knew the danger of this. The Midrash is teaching that had Yaakov united with Lavan and assimilated into his culture, there would be a certain destruction of Klal Yisrael. Instead, Yaakov saved his nation from assimilation by demonstrating a distinction between himself and Lavan.
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