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Parshat Vayikra 5 Nisan 5773/March 16, 2013 Vol.4 Num. 26
לזכר נשמת אבינו מורינו ר' משה בן דוד שלמה ז"ל
understand the grave results of his sin and imagine himself being sacrificed instead of the animal, then the actual sacrificer should be the sinner; why, then, is this role given to the kohen? Two answers may be offered: 1. The kohen serves as the sinner's advocate in front of Hashem. From the educational perspective emphasized by Ramban, it would have been better for the sinner to sacrifice by himself. On the other hand, the act of sacrificing includes standing in front of G-d, and that is something a sinner is not qualified to do. The kohen serves as the sinner's delegate, asking Hashem for forgiveness. 2. The process of sacrificing has two sides – the sinner offers the sacrifice, and Hashem takes it. The kohen is the representative of G-d to take the sacrifice. According to this explanation, the kohen does not serve as the delegate of the sinner, but rather as the delegate of Hashem. As a matter of fact, the question of how we see the kohen's role is articulated in the Talmud (Nedarim 35a), as the sages ask, "Are the kohanim agents of G-d or agents of ours?" The Talmud identifies a practical difference between the two possible roles in a case in which a man vows not to draw any benefit from a certain kohen. If kohanim serve as the delegates of sinners, this sinner won't be able to bring his sin-offering via that kohen. However, there is no reason to prohibit this kohen from bringing the sin offering if kohanim are delegates of Hashem.
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The ancient question regarding the sacrifices – why are they needed – was asked already by the prophets. David asks in Tehillim (50:13), on behalf of HaShem, "Will I eat the flesh of bulls, or do I drink the blood of goats?" But if David means to say that G-d does not need the sacrifices, why are we commanded to offer them? Many answers have been given; one particular view, cited by Ramban (Commentary to Vayikra 1:9), explains korbanot in the following terms: S i n ce h um a n a c ti on s a r e performed through the dimensions of thought, speech and deed, G-d commanded that when a person sins and brings a sacrifice, he must lay his hands upon it, corresponding to the dimension of deed, and confess, corresponding to the dimension of speech, and burn in fire the innards and kidneys, the organs of thought and desire… and splash the blood upon the altar, representing his own blood and life. Through all this, a person should reflect that he has sinned against G-d with both body and soul, and that it would be proper to spill his own blood and burn his own body. Ramban ends the presentation of this explanation by saying that it is "accepted, and it draws the heart." However, when we look more carefully at the details of the sacrificial laws, we might ask a strong question against this explanation: if the goal of sacrifices is to make the sinner
Rabbi Baruch Weintraub
Perhaps we might deepen our insight by looking at a question posed by Tosafot on that talmudic passage. Whereas the passage we just cited debates the status of kohanim, another talmudic passage (Yoma 19b) quotes Rav Huna, son of Rabbi Yehoshua, saying plainly that kohanim are Hashem's delegates. [It must be so, according to Rav Huna, for a delegate is not authorized to do that which his sender cannot do personally; if kohanim were delegates of other Jews, they could only do that which nonkohanim could do.] Why is our first passage uncertain about the status of kohanim, if Rav Huna is certain that kohanim are Hashem's delegates? The Tosafot commentary to the Talmud offers two possible answers. The second one, upon which we will focus, is that indeed all agree that kohanim must be appointed by Hashem. The talmudic debate was only whether we can view them as our delegates in addition to their role as delegates of G-d. One might suggest that these two aspects of the kohen's role carry within them the essence of a lesson to be learned from Sefer Vayikra, the book of sacrifices also named 'Torat Kohanim'. Atonement cannot be achieved by a man standing alone; salvation should be sought only in the presence of another. This other serves as G-d's delegate to you, and sometimes, in addition, as your own delegate to G-d; someone to look up to and from whom to learn that there can be life without sin and shame, life in which one can stand in front of G-d. email@example.com
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TORAH FOR YOUR TABLE!
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Matzah before Pesach: Until when?
Many Jews avoid eating matzah between Purim and Pesach; others stop eating unleavened bread from Rosh Chodesh Nisan. While these customs should be respected, Jewish law only presents a much shorter requirement for avoiding matzah. Three opinions are quoted regarding the last time one may eat matzah: 1. Rosh (Orchot Chaim L'Rosh 114) cites a view that one must stop eating matzah 24 hours before Pesach; 2. Ramban (Milchamot HaShem Pesachim 15b) claims that matzah may not be eaten from first light on the fourteenth of Nisan. 3. Baal HaMaor presents the most lenient opinion, claiming that matzah may be eaten until midday on erev Pesach. Both Ramban and Baal HaMaor support their views with a rather graphic talmudic analogy. The Talmud Yerushalmi (Pesachim 10:11) states, “Rebbe Levi said: One who eats matzah on the day before Pesach is like one who lives with his fiancé in his father-in -law's home.” [Mahari Weil (193) interprets this metaphor literally, explaining that just as one's fiancé becomes permitted only after seven brachot are recited under the chuppah, so matzah is permitted only after seven brachot have been recited at the seder.] Rabbi Moshe Feinstein (Igrot Moshe, Orach Chaim 1:155) attempts to explain how the talmudic analogy may suit the views of both Ramban and Baal HaMaor:
According to Baal haMaor, the Talmud compares the status of matzah after midday on erev Pesach with one's fiancé, to whom one is partially connected in the eyes of Jewish law. Just as marital relations with a fiancé are prohibited, so one may not eat matzah. According to Ramban, the Talmud compares the first consumption of matzah with the first relations between husband and wife. Once a man and a woman commit to each other, the relationship should be consummated in a mitzvah context; once we begin preparations for Pesach on the fourteenth of Nisan, our "relationship" with Pesach has begun, and the matzah should be consumed in a mitzvah context. One question remains, though: When does our relationship with Pesach truly begin? Ramban claims it begins from first light on the fourteenth of Nisan, but it would be easy to claim that it begins on Rosh Chodesh Nissan, or even from the time when we are obligated to begin learning the laws of Pesach, thirty days before the holidays. Perhaps this latter view explains why some Jews refrain from eating matzah much earlier than Jewish law demands. Nonetheless, Rama (Shulchan Aruch, Orech Chaim, 471:2) follows Ramban, ruling that the only time one must refrain from eating matzah is from first light on the fourteenth of Nisan. firstname.lastname@example.org
TORAH FOR YOUR TABLE Manners Matter
Rabbi Mordechai Torczyner
"And He called to Moshe, and G-d spoke to Moshe from the Tent of Meeting, to say: Speak to the Jews, and tell them…" (Vayikra 1:1) The redundancies in the verse above are twofold: 1. Why begin by saying that G-d called to Moshe and that G-d spoke to Moshe? 2. What is the meaning of the double language, "to say: Speak to the Jews and tell them"? The talmudic sages (Yoma 4b) explain that both of these apparent superfluities teach us proper conduct: 1. Regarding the former, the students of the yeshiva of Rabbi Yishmael state, "One should not speak to another before catching his attention." 2. Regarding the latter, Rabb i Menasya Rabbah declares, "When one person speaks to another, the listener is prohibited from repeating the lesson until the speaker says, 'Go tell it.'" Rabbi Baruch haLevi Epstein (Torah Temimah Vayikra 1:1) notes that the former lesson could have been deduced from an earlier biblical passage; as Masechet Derech Eretz (5) notes, G-d called to Adam after he ate from the forbidden fruit, rather than take him by surprise. Why, then, does the Talmud choose to draw the lesson from Moshe's experience? Rabbi Epstein explains that the Torah taught us an extra lesson by using Moshe as its example. Moshe is described as the most faithful member of th e D i vi n e h ouse h ol d , wh o communicated with G-d in the most direct of ways. Nonetheless, as the Talmud notes, G-d formally invited Moshe into conversation before addressing him. This offers a strong lesson for our own interactions. Many of us are duly respectful when interacting with parents and mentors, but when dealing with friends we drop our guard. To an extent, this is normal for friendly relationships, but our parshah reminds us that even in the most intimate of relationships, a level of courtesy is appropriate. [Note: This is not the only time that G-d instructs Moshe in proper manners; see Shabbat 89a for another example.] email@example.com
613 Mitzvot: #249-250, 255-256, 510-515
Rabbi Mordechai Torczyner
Numerous mitzvot prohibit witchcraft, magic, sorcery and paranormal prediction, and prescribe harsh punishments for their practice. Why does the Torah mandate tough penalties for these transgressions? that these practices are real and potent, but his conclusion is similar to that of Rambam: The Torah expects a Jew to place his faith in HaShem alone, and not in other entities.
Rambam wrote (Peirush haMishnayot Avodah Zarah 4, Moreh haNevuchim 3:37) that these practices are not inherently powerful; some of them promise false results, and others rely on subterfuge and slight of hand for their apparent success. The danger is that these practices lead directly to worship of false gods.
The author of Sefer haChinuch (Mitzvah 62) took a different tack: HaShem created the world’s entities with certain positive uses and powers, and He also created the possibility for those entities to be combined inappropriately, which would cause harm. The prohibitions against sorcery are meant to prevent those inappropriate combinations, because they are destructive to the Divine plan. firstname.lastname@example.org
Ramban (Bereishit 17:1) argued
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Biography: Rabbi Yekutiel Yehudah Halberstam
This Week in Israeli History
Torah in Translation Hallel in Shul on Pesach Night
Rabbi Yekutiel Yehudah Halberstam Divrei Yatziv Orach Chaim 207
Regarding the custom of saying Hallel on the night of Pesach in the Beit HaMedrash, must one say it after Rabbeinu Tam's definition of nightfall, since the Tur explains that the blessing applies to the seder's Hallel. We will begin by analyzing why the Sages established Hallel on the night of Pesach. Tosafot (Succah 38a) explains that women are obligated to recite this Hallel because it is said for the miracle that happened to us… The Vilna Gaon (Orach Chaim 671:7) also explains that we say Hallel because we publicize the miracle that was performed… The Talmud (Megilah 14a) says, "If we say Hallel when we go from slavery to freedom, then of course we should say Hallel when we go from death to life." Rashi explains that "from slavery to freedom" refers to the song at the Sea when we left Egypt. Turei Even questions this, and explains "from slavery to freedom" to refer to the first day of Pesach, the day of the exodus from Egypt. In the next paragraph, Turei Even explains that the Talmud asks why we say Hallel on the night of Pesach because we do not say it on the nights of other holidays, and so it answers that we recite Hallel at night due to the miracle that happened that night… It is possible to suggest that in truth, each holiday was established over a miracle. On Sukkot, the Clouds of Glory were returned (Taz Orach Chaim 625)…On Shavuot, there were many miracles when we received the Torah… Regarding Rosh HaShanah, the Talmud Yerushalmi (Rosh haShanah 1:3) explains that normally people who face litigation [display anxiety]… but Israel is not so, wearing white… and rejoicing because they know that G-d will perform miracles for them… On the night of Pesach, when recitation of Hallel is due to the miracle, we must say the Hallel at the time of the miracle, when night has definitely fallen. Bedieved, though, saying it earlier, after maariv, would be acceptable…
Rabbi Yekutiel Yehuda Halberstam, born in 1905 in Poland, was a greatgrandson of Rabbi Chaim Halberstam of Sanz (also known as Divrei Chaim, the name of his major halachic work). Recognized as a prodigy at a young age, he studied with leading Chassidic rabbis, including Rabbi Chaim Elazar Shapiro (the Munkaczer Rebbe). At the age of sixteen, he married a cousin, Chanah Teitelbaum, daughter of the Rabbi of Sighet, Romania. When Rabbi Halberstam was 22, he accepted the position of Rabbi of Klausenberg, capital of Transylvania, and led the community for sixteen years. It is reported that he slept only a few hours each night, spending his time in learning and in prayer. In 1937, he was offered a seat on the Beit Din in Yerushalayim, but his mother advised him to decline because of his youth. The Jews of Klausenberg were not initially affected by the outbreak of World War II, but in March of 1944 the Germans invaded Hungary and began their liquidation of Hungarian Jewry. The Rebbe and his family were sent to Auschwitz, where his wife and ten of his children were killed on June 2, 1944. The eldest child died in a DP camp after the war, before the Rebbe found out that he had survived the war. The Rebbe himself survived multiple death marches, and constantly comforted and strengthened those with him. In the DP camp, the Rebbe created an organization that operated schools in nineteen different DP camps, set up a slaughter-house, built a mikvah, distributed tzitzit and tefillin, and raised money to marry off couples. When he met General Dwight Eisenhower, he requested a lulav and etrog to use on Sukkot. In 1947, he re-married, and set up a community in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. He subsequently had two sons and five daughters. In 1956, he set up a community in Netanya, Israel, and moved there in 1960. The Rebbe’s faith and dedication to the Jewish people served as an inspiration to many who survived the Holocaust. He passed away in 1994. email@example.com
7 Nisan 1925 Rav Kook at Hebrew University
Rabbi Ezra Goldschmiedt
7 Nisan is Monday On April 1st, 1925, the Hebrew University campus of Mount Scopus held its gala inauguration. The university's open-air theatre hosted over 6,000 attendees, among them many of Israeli history's most influential personalities. The service was conducted by future President Chaim Weizmann, who urged thenChief Rabbi of Israel, Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak HaKohen Kook, to deliver the invocation. According to Rabbi Yitzchak Hutner, Rabbi Kook agreed on condition that biblical criticism would not be taught in the university. (This promise was made, but not fulfilled.) As Rabbi Shnayer Z. Leiman puts it, Rabbi Kook's "very presence was an act of courage; indeed, many of his rabbinic colleagues viewed his presence as an act of treachery. Even more courageous was the message he delivered that afternoon, which minced no words about his true feelings regarding the Hebrew University and its place in the life of a revitalized Jewish yishuv in the land of Israel." Rabbi Kook's address was an exposition of Yeshayah 60:4-5, "Lift up your eyes and look about; they have all gathered and come to you. Yours sons shall be brought from afar, your daughters like babes on shoulders. As you behold you will glow. Your heart will fear and rejoice – for the wealth of the sea shall pass on to you; the riches of the nations shall come to you." Rabbi Kook felt that the university, in its role of actualizing and promoting Judaism's values, was an important part of the fulfillment of this prophecy of redemption. He warned, however, that this was an occasion worthy of Yeshayah’s fear as well as rejoicing. In the marketplace of ideas, Judaism, and particularly the traditional ideas of the yeshiva system, would be in danger if not loyally respected by the university, its faculty and curriculum.
Opponents of Rabbi Kook, resenting his presence at the inauguration, misrepresented his words as an unconditional approval of the university, and an embrace of a view that saw secular studies as "Torah". Reading the speech's transcript, one can see that these claims are unquestionably false. firstname.lastname@example.org
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Our Haftorah: Yeshayah 43:21-44:23
Who is the prophet of our haftorah? Yeshayah (Isaiah) was a prophet in the period leading up to the exile of the ten northern tribes of Yisrael by the Assyrians. He lived in the southern k i n gd om of Ye h ud a h , a n d he prophesied during the reigns of Kings Uziahu, Yotam, Achaz and Chizkiyahu. The Talmud (Sotah 10a) states that he descended from Yehudah and Tamar. The prophecies of Yeshayah may be classified in two categories, Rebuke and Redemption; the former dominates the early chapters of the book, while the latter occupies the latter portion. The split is not clean, though; portions of the former include redemption, and portions of the latter include rebuke. What is the message of our haftorah? Although our haftorah comes from the portion of the book of Yeshayah which is normally identified with redemption, i t b e gi n s wi th a m e s s a ge of unambiguous rebuke. G-d tells the Jews (Yeshayah 43:21), "I formed you to be Mine," and then He criticizes the nation for not bringing korbanot. In a poetic rebuke, G-d says, "I have not enslaved you with flour offerings and I h ave n ot e xh auste d you wi th frankincense…but you have enslaved Me to your sins and exhausted Me with your iniquities." (43:23-24) [Radak explains that G-d is burdened by His patience with the nation's sins. Rashi, echoing a midrashic theme, interprets the rebuke to mean that the sins of the Jews compel G-d to elevate Nevuchadnezzar and the Babylonians, so that the Jews will be punished by this mighty nation.] The haftorah continues (44:1-5) with a promise by G-d that He will show us favour, and we will return to Him. G-d declares (44:6-8) that He is the only G-d, and that redemption of the nation can come only through Him; in a vivid passage, the prophet declares that idols formed by man are powerless. (44:9-20) The haftorah concludes with a call to the heavens and earth, hills and forests to celebrate, for G-d will redeem the nation He formed. (44:21-23) What is the link between the haftorah and our parshah? Yeshayah charges the Jews with failure to bring korbanot, and declares that Gd has neither enslaved nor exhausted the nation with sacrificial demands for flour offerings and frankincense. (43:23) On the other hand, our parshah presents a list of G-d's sacrificial demands; one might view this as a contradiction of Isaiah's message. However, Rashi cites Eichah Rabbah (Petichta 10), noting that we are only expected to burn fist-sized quantities of grain and frankincense on the altar; these should not exhaust us. Further, Rashi notes that these are voluntary
Rabbi Mordechai Torczyner
offerings, rather obligation. than an enslaving
Our haftorah and our liturgy Several passages from our haftorah have entered into the liturgy of Yamim Noraim (the High Holy Days), because of their statements of Divine might or their promises of forgiveness. "I am the first and I am the last, and aside from Me there is no G-d" (44:6) is part of musaf for the second day of Rosh haShanah. "I, I am the one who wipes away your transgressions for My sake, and your sins I will not recall" (43:25) is part of musaf of Yom Kippur. "I have wiped away your transgressions like a mist, and like a cloud your sins; return to Me, for I have redeemed you" (44:22) is part of the Selichot service. In addition, the reassurances of our haftorah have been incorporated into the rituals of the close of Shabbat, as we transition from the security of our communal Shabbat into the uncertainty of our week in the broader world. G-d's call, "Do not fear, My servant Yaakov" (44:2) is the refrain for a poem which people sing at havdalah; the closing two verses of our haftorah, which call upon the universe to rejoice at G-d's redemption of our nation, are included in the "v'yiten lecha" verses of redemption which many Jews recite after maariv at the close of Shabbat. email@example.com
Highlights for March 16 – March 22 / 5 Nisan - 11 Nisan
Some shiurim go on Pesach hiatus this week, but opportunities remain!
Shabbat, March 15-16 Friday night R’ Mordechai Torczyner, An Unbreakable Bond, The Village Shul 7:45 AM R’ Baruch Weintraub, Reasons for mitzvot and the parshah, Or Chaim not this week 10:10 AM R’ Mordechai Torczyner, Koreich: Unifying the Jew and the Jews, The Village Shul 10:20 AM R’ Baruch Weintraub, Parshah, Clanton Park 11:10 AM R’ Mordechai Torczyner, Punishing Egypt, The Village Shul Derashah R’ Mordechai Torczyner, Shouldn’t G-d be Vegan? The Village Shul Derashah Adam Frieberg, Shaarei Tefillah Seudah Shlishit R’ Mordechai Torczyner, Karpas Creativity, The Village Shul Sunday, March 17 8:45 AM R’ Mordechai Torczyner, Punishing Egypt: Justice or Revenge?, Forest Hill Jewish Centre (Shacharit 8:00 AM), with breakfast 9:15 AM Hillel Horovitz, Parshah, Zichron Yisroel, Hebrew (Shacharit 8:30 AM) 40 min. pre-minchah R’ Baruch Weintraub, Contemporary Halachah in Israel, Hebrew, Clanton Park, men 8:30 PM R’ Baruch Weintraub, Contemporary Halachah in Israel, Hebrew, 4 Tillingham Keep, mixed Monday, March 18 8 PM Monday night Beit Midrash: Bnai Torah, Clanton Park 8 PM Hillel Horovitz, Melachim I:20-22, Bnai Torah 8 PM R’ Ezra Goldschmiedt, Mesilat Yesharim, Bnai Torah, high school students 9 PM Hillel Horovitz, Rav Kook’s Ein Ayah, Bnai Torah Tuesday, March 19 1:30 PM R’ Mordechai Torczyner, Daniel, Pesach hiatus 8 PM Adam Frieberg, Haggadah Insights, Shaarei Tefillah 8 PM Yair Manas, Chaburah: Sanhedrin, 33 Meadowbrook 8:30 PM R’ Baruch Weintraub, Rambam’s Laws of Kings, Shomrai Shabbos, men Thursday, March 21 8:30 PM R’ Baruch Weintraub, Sotah, Clanton Park
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