A Shalshelet of Completion By Ezra Seplowitz (’20)


The Torah’s fourth and final usage of the sui generis Shalshelet note is found in the sixth Aliyah of Parashat Tzav (8:23), on the word “VaYishchat,” “And he slaughtered.” This is strange, as the normal context of a Shalshelet is a tense standoff, not a sacrificial procedure. The Midrash (Sifra Mechilta DeMilu’im 1:21 s.v. VaYishchat) explains that the reason for this seemingly unfitting usage is to distinguish between the “Sheloshah Damim,” “Three bloods,” described in this section. However, Rabbeinu Bachya (8:23 s.v. VaYitein) claims that the Shalshelet is prevising the end of the Pasuk, which states: “VaYitein Al Tenuch Ozen Aharon HaYemanit, Ve’Al Bohen Yado HaYemanit, Ve’Al Bohen Raglo HaYemanit,” “[Moshe] put [the blood] on the ridge of Aharon’s right ear, and on the thumb of his right hand, and on the big toe of his right foot.” Rabbeinu Bachya believes that these three procedures correspond to the three different universes: the spiritual world, the cosmological world, and the terrestrial world. The right ear and head area relate to the spiritual world, the right thumb relates to the cosmological world, and the right big toe relates to the terrestrial world.

Furthermore, the name of the Korban which Aharon is commanded to slaughter in this passage is the “Eil HaMilu’im,” “The inauguration ram.” Rashi (8:22 s.v. Eil HaMilu’im) explains that the root of the word “Milu’im” is M.L.A., which means to fill or complete. Rashi suggests that the offering of this Korban “Memalim UMeshalmim Et HaKohanim BeKehunatam,” “Fills and completes the Kohanim in their priesthood.” By bringing this ‘completing’ Korban and placing its blood on the extremities of the body, the entirety of the Kohein is sanctified. Rabbeinu Bachya and Rashi thus believe that the message Hashem is trying to invoke is that all parts of the body are sacred and important; only if one devotes their whole essence to service of the Ribbono Shel Olam can he or she fulfill the Avodah to its fullest extent.

You Are What You Eat By Menachem Kravetz (’20)

An Inextinguishable Flame By Rabbi David Nachbar