“Vayikra El Moshe Vaydabeir Hashem Eilav MeiOhel Moeid Leimor,” “He called to Moshe, and Hashem spoke to him from the tent of meeting, saying.”
Rashi explains the extra word “Vayikra,” “He called,” to mean that before sharing any statement, saying, or command with Moshe, Hashem would first call out to him. Rashi further explains that this calling out is “Leshon Chibah,” an expression of Hashem’s affection for Moshe. While there are many ways to understand the message of Hashem’s calling out indicating affection, the Hafla’ah proposes one of the more novel explanations. He suggests that out of love for Moshe, Hashem wanted him to fully enjoy and appreciate each new idea and command, so Hashem would call out to him beforehand in order to give Moshe the opportunity to prepare himself both emotionally and spiritually for the message that would soon follow.
In other words, the Hafla’ah is teaching us that in order for human beings to fully enjoy, appreciate, and ultimately benefit from an experience, they must first prepare themselves beforehand; they have to “get psyched up.” Without advanced preparation, it is possible to go through some of life’s most powerful experiences without being moved or inspired, antithetical to Hashem’s message that He conveys to Moshe here. Understanding the importance of this idea, the Chasidim HaRishonim would actually prepare themselves for an entire hour before every Tefillah in order to reap the maximum benefit from every conversation with Hashem.
With the beginning of Chodesh Nissan, our physical preparations for Pesach are in high gear. Our time is filled with shopping, cleaning, cooking and packing. With so much going on, it is important to remember that there is also a spiritual and emotional preparation that needs to happen as Pesach approaches. If we and our families are going to enjoy and grow spiritually through this Yom Tov, we need to pause for a moment from the physical preparations and concentrate on the deeper meanings of our observance by exploring the Hagadah, reviewing the Halachot of Pesach, and considering the symbolic meaning of removing Chametz from our lives.
It is only through this type of preparation that we will be able to truly appreciate fully all that Pesach has to offer.
If He Wills It…
by Jesse Dunietz
Amongst the laws of Menachot, the flour Korbanot, the Torah prohibits the use of several types of food in all Korbanot: “Chol Se’or VeChol Devash Lo Taktiru Mimenu Isheh LaHashem,” “You may not burn any leaven or any honey as a fire-offering to Hashem” (2:11). The Kli Yakar comments on this Pasuk that the Chametz and honey each symbolize a personal attribute that is unacceptable in the context of Avodat Hashem – the Chametz represents “Gaavah URdifat HaKavod,” “arrogance and chasing honor” (a symbolic interpretation which Chazal employ often), while the honey represents seeking physical pleasure and sweetness. Avodah or Torah performed for either of these goals, states the Kli Yakar, is considered “Shelo Lishmah,” not stemming from the proper intent. While this Kli Yakar compellingly explains the symbolic reason behind this Mitzvah, it seems to leave one aspect of the Torah’s logic unanswered: why is honey specifically used to represent physical pleasure? Sweet foods are certainly not the only ones that people eat for pleasure! Many would consider meat, for example, to be an even more appropriate food item for this purpose; indeed, one of the requirements for the Bein Soreir UMoreh, the rebellious son, is to show his gluttony by eating a specified amount of meat! Why, then, did Hashem specifically prohibit using honey in Korbanot, while meat constitutes the core of much of the Avodah?
Another question arises from a well-known passage in the “Beraita DePitum HaKetoret,” which Ashkenazim outside of Israel recite on Shabbat morning as part of the “Pitum HaKetoret” section of Mussaf. This Beraita records, “Bar Kappara also taught: if [the Kohen] were to place in [the Ketoret] a Kortov of honey, no man would be able to stand before [i.e. resist] its scent. And why do we not mix honey into it? Because the Torah said, ‘You may not burn any leaven or any honey as a fire-offering to Hashem.’” A number of commentators wonder about Bar Kappara’s questioning the reason for omitting honey. It seems rather like saying, “Pig meat actually tastes excellent. We would really like to eat pig. And why do we not eat pig? Because the Torah said that we may not eat pig.” Of course the reason we do not mix honey into the Ketoret is that the Torah forbids it! What place does such an apparently obvious comment have in a Halachic discussion?
The Radvaz offers a somewhat technical answer to this question. He explains that the Pshat of the Pasuk could be read to mean only that one may not bring a Korban entirely of honey or Chametz. However, Bar Kappara’s Derashah teaches that since the Pasuk uses the word “Mimenu,” “from it,” even placing a small amount of it in a larger offering is prohibited. Rav Meir Yechiel of Ostrovtzah suggests in a similar vein that the previous section in the Torah could have given the impression that it is not in fact fully forbidden to use honey. When describing Korbanot of birds, the Pasuk states, “Lo Yavdil,” “[The Kohen] shall not separate [the bird into pieces]” (1:17), which Chazal interpret to mean that he is not required to separate the bird apart entirely, but he may still do so. Thus, one might think that the same applies to honey – one is not required to put it into the Ketoret, even though it smells overwhelmingly pleasant, but he is allowed to if he wants to. However, the fact that the Pasuk connects the honey to Chametz, which the Torah would not have to tell us that we need not add in large quantities, shows that the Pasuk is in fact prohibiting the addition of both.
The Kotzker Rebbe offers a more philosophical answer, commenting simply, “Do not be too clever to understand the reason and to explain according to human reasoning; rather, the Torah commanded this, and it is enough.” Apparently, he understands Bar Kappara’s comment not so much as a statement of Halacha; the rule itself we already know ourselves just from reading the Pasuk. Rather, what Bar Kappara is teaching here is a lesson in Hashkafah: we may search, as the Kli Yakar does, for reasons behind the Mitzvot, but ultimately the answer to “why do we not do this” must be “because the Torah said….” This also answers, in a sense, our first question of why honey is chosen as the vehicle for the Torah’s message here. Of course the symbolism is always there and we must always look for messages for ourselves within the Mitzvot. But on a deeper level, we must accept that the particular technical specifications of any given Mitzvah – honey versus meat, pig versus goat – are simply the choice of God, Whose will we accept even when it defeats the limits of our powers of reasoning. Indeed, the pig analogy serves well here, as Rabi Elazar Ben Azariah teaches, “From where do we know that one should not say, ‘I find pig meat disgusting...,’ but should rather say, ‘I would like it, but my Father in Heaven decreed upon me [not to eat it]?’ The Torah teaches, ‘I have separated you from amongst the nations to be Mine’ (Vayikra 20:26) – your separateness should be for My Name” (Torat Kohanim 9:4). On some level, this is always the explanation – we act for Hashem’s Name, so we do exactly as He has decreed.
This lesson is particularly appropriate in the context of Avodah, an area in which we have a tendency to seek ways of worship that we personally find meaningful. However, the Torah underscores here that the appropriateness of a given form of Avodah is not determined by what we would find pleasant or what we can “get into.” From a human perspective, honey would seem to be the perfect clincher to a wonderful-smelling incense offering, yet the Torah unequivocally forbids its use. When it comes to Avodah, it implies, the ball is entirely in Hashem’s court; any service to Him that we perform must be done in accordance with the guidelines that He and He alone establishes. This was arguably Bnei Yisrael’s mistake in the Cheit HaEigel: they attempted to serve Hashem in a way He had not authorized, and had in fact completely prohibited. One of the messages that Sefer Shemot teaches repeatedly (as Rabbi Chaim Jachter developed extensively in his Shiurim at TABC) is the counter to that problem – the necessity of maintaining a distance between oneself and Hashem, and of keeping rigorously to the regulations He lays down. This is one explanation, for example, of why the Torah repeats all the Mishkan specifications after the Cheit HaEigel – it is stressing that this time, Bnei Yisrael fixed their mistake and performed everything “as Hashem commanded.”
The Mishnah in Avot writes in the name of Raban Gamliel the son of Rabi Yehudah HaNasi, “Aseih Retzono KiRtzonecha, Kedei SheYaaseh Retzonecha KiRtzono,” “Make His will like yours, so that He will make your will like His” (2:4). In the Zechut of our accepting Hashem’s will unquestioningly and performing His commandments exactly as He specifies, may we merit to see Him answer all our Tefillot and implement our will as His own. --Adapted from several Divrei Torah in Itturei Torah
by Chaim Strassman
In this week’s Parsha, Parshat Vayikra, many Halachot regarding the Mishkan are presented to us. These Halachot cover topics from the Korbanot to if a Kohen Gadol sins. When the Kohen Gadol sins, the Torah states that he must bring a bull as a Korban to atone for his sin. After the bull has been slaughtered, the Kohen Gadol is supposed to take the blood and bring it to the Ohel Moed. The Torah then states that the “Kohen” dips his forefinger into the blood and sprinkles it 7 times towards the Parochet. Didn’t the Torah just state that the Kohen Gadol does the Avodah for this Korban? Why does the Torah suddenly switch from “Kohen Gadol” to just “Kohen?”
Chazal answer simply that at this point in the atonement process, the normal Kohen is permitted to participate. The Kohen Gadol only has to bring the blood, not sprinkle it. Rav Zalman Sorotzkin suggests a different answer. He says that when the blood is being sprinkled, which is the essential act of atonement, the Kohen Gadol should forgo his Kavod and forget his position of power. He should be pleading with Hashem with all his might to forgive him. The Kohen Gadol should at that point see himself as a simple Kohen standing before Hashem.
Rav Sorotzkin points out that we see a similar idea regarding Yom Kippur as well. When the Torah commands that the Kohen Gadol enter the “Holy of Holies” on Yom Kippur, it does not actually say that the “Kohen Gadol” should enter; it says Aharon should enter. The Torah is reminding the Kohen Gadol that he should not feel proud that he is allowed to enter the Kodesh Kodashim, the holiest part of the Beit HaMikdash On such an important occasion as Yom Kippur, the Kohen Gadol is “just” Aharon.
We can learn a powerful lesson from Rav Sorotzkin’s explanation. When we are doing something for Hashem, who we are is not important. In the eyes of Hashem, no one person is more important than anyone else.
by Tzvi Zuckier
The second Perek of Sefer Vayikra begins with the following Pasuk: “VeNefesh Ki Takriv Korban Minchah LaHahsem Solet Yihyeh Korbano Veyatzak Aleha Shemen Venatan Aleha Levonah,” “When a soul brings a Korban Minchah to Hashem, it should be made of fine flour, and he should pour oil on it and put frankincense on it.” The beginning of this Pasuk seems strange – why does the Torah use the word “Nefesh,” “soul,” to describe the one who offers the Korban to Hashem? Why did it not simply use the more commonly used word “Ish,” “man?”
Rashi explains that the only time the word “Nefesh” is used in place of the word Ish is in context of bringing a Korban Nedavah, an offering of donation. Since the only person that would bring such a cheap Korban was a poor person, Hashem considers his offering of the Korban Minchah on a different level – it is as if the one who offers the Korban actually sacrifices his soul.
However, other commentators take issue with this interpretation of Rashi. Both Maayanah Shel Torah and Talilei Orot quote the Chatam Sofer, who in turn quotes the Baal Hapilaah, who asks a powerful question on Rashi. He asks regarding the case a case of bringing a sacrificial Yonah, a dove, where the cost is less than that of the Korban Minchah (which includes fine flour oil and frankincense), yet the Pesukim that describe that offering don’t use the word “Nefesh” even once!
The Chatam Sofer proceeds to offer his own explanation that sacrificing an animal such as a Yonah is different from bringing a flour offering. The purpose of sacrificing an animal is for the soul of the offering to be offered to Hashem instead of the soul of the sinner. On the other hand, the reason behind a Korban Minchah is radically different; in fact, it cannot be used for atonement purposes. The reason a poor person brings an inanimate object instead of an animal (even a dove, which is less costly than a flour offering) is that he is so poor that he has absolutely no money to spend. The poor person only acquires the oil and flour for the offering from charities, such as Leket, Shichchah, and Pe’ah. He also acquires the Levonah for free, based on an edict of Chazal, which says that Levonah is grown so commonly in Eretz Yisrael that it is Hefker – anyone and everyone may take it (including the goats that graze on it). Therefore, because the pauper is giving all that he can afford, he is truly “donating” his soul. Furthermore, because his Minchah-offering does not atone for his sins, the poor person, in effect, sacrifices his own soul – “Nefesh” – taking his simple offering one step further.
Staff at time of publication:
Editors-in-Chief: Ariel Caplan, Jesse Dunietz
Managing Editors: Etan Bluman, Roni Kaplan
Publication Managers: Josh Markovic, Gavriel Metzger
Publication Editors: Kevin Beckoff, Avi Levinson
Business Manager: Jesse Nowlin
Webmaster: Avi Wollman
Staff: David Gross, Shmuel Reece, Dov Rossman, Chaim Strassman, Yitzchak Richmond, Josh Rubin
Faculty Advisor: Rabbi Chaim Jachter