פ’ ויקרא – תשע”ה
Volume 8, Issue 1
INSIGHTS from the SEDRA
Insights from the Sedra is a project of the Scholar’s Kollel of Great Neck. It aims to provide several questions and answers about the Sedra, culled from various commentaries, including the following: Baal Haturim, Darash Moshe, Vedebarta Bam by Rabbi Moshe Bogomilsky, Torah Treasures by Dov Furer, Wellsprings of Torah by Alexander Friedman, and Kol Dodi by Rabbi Dovid Feinstein, Great Torah Lights by Rabbi Yitzchak Meir Goodman, Something To Say by Dov Wasserman, The Vilna Gaon, and Growth Through Torah by Zelig Pliskin.
ויקרא אל משה
“And He called to Moshe…” (1:1)
QUESTION: Why is the word “Vayikra” written with a small aleph?
ANSWER: The word “vayikar” “ויקרא”) without an “א”) means “casually calling.” The word “Vayikra” (“ויקרא” with an “א”) means “to call with love.”
Moshe is the greatest prophet of the Jewish people. Though we are told “Never again has there arisen in Israel a prophet like Moshe” (Devarim 34:10), the Gentiles were able to boast of having someone as great in prophecy, Bilaam (Sifri, ibid.) The verse about Hashem speaking to Bilaam reads, “Vayikar Elokim el Bilaam” (Bamidbar 23:4). The “א” of “vayikra” is omitted in order to illustrate that Hashem did not enjoy speaking to Bilaam and therefore called him in an aloof manner. Moshe, being the most humble person who ever lived (Bamidbar 23:3), wanted to write “Vayikar” “ויקר”. However, because of His great love for Moshe, Hashem insisted that he write “Vayikra” with an “א”. Moshe and Hashem compromised and “Vayikra” was written with a small “א”. (Ba’al HaTurim)
אדם כי יקריב מכם קרבן לה’ מן הבהמה מן הבקר ומן הצאן תקריבו את קרבנכם
“When one of you brings an offering to Hashem, your sacrifice must be offered from the cattle, sheep or goats.” (1:2)
This verse represents a strange anomaly. It opens with Adam ki yakriv, “When one of you brings,” in the singular form, but it closes with takrivu es korbanchem, “your sacrifices must be offered,” in the plural.
Each Jewish person has a part in Klal Yisrael. And every Jew must be aware of this. He must realize that a Jew who stands alone has little worth; his value appreciates through his bond with the community. This point is emphasized in this verse. Adam ki yakriv, if an isolated individual wants to approach Hashem, his intentions are scrutinized rigorously to determine whether his korban is mikem, “from you,” truly emanating from the depth of his heart, and whether it is a korban laHashem, “an offering purely for the sake of Hashem,” without any ulterior motives. But when he acknowledges his link with the community, and offers his korban as part of them, takrivu, in the plural, then his korban will be accepted without scrutiny. By acknowledging one’s part in the klal, the congregation, every Jewish person can enjoy the divine favor that is bestowed on the Jewish nation. (Iturei Torah)
“From the animals…” (1:2)
The verse tells us that the offering must be brought from the animals, which implies that there is a specific animal or set of animals that can be used as an offering, to the exclusion of all others. This is indeed the case. Animals with physical blemishes or animals used in the worship of false deities are but some of the animals that may not be brought upon the Mizbe’ach as offerings.
While Bnei Yisrael were traveling in the desert, when the entire nation was in close proximity to the Mizbe’ach, the only permissible way to eat the meat of an animal acceptable as a korban was to first offer it upon the Mizbe’ach as an offering. Only then could the owner eat the parts of the animal that the Torah grants him as his share. To slaughter such an animal simply to eat its meat – without using it as an offering – was not permitted. Only upon the arrival of the nation in Eretz Yisrael, when distance from the Beit HaMikdash limited people’s ability to bring offerings, did the Torah permit slaughter for the purpose of consumption.
The numerical vale of הבהמה, the animal, with the definite article ה that suggests specificity, is 57. This is equal to the value of מזבח, Mizbe’ach, for it is only these select animals that can be brought to Hashem as offerings upon the Mizbe’ach. (Kol Dodi)
“A feast peace-offering…” (3:1)
Rashi teaches that this offering is called a peace-offering because it provides a portion of the animal for everyone – the Altar, the Kohen, and the owner – thereby generating peace. The prescribed fats are burned upon the Mizbe’ach, the breast and a portion of the right rear leg is given to the Kohen, and the person bringing the korban receives the rest.
As long as the lesson of the sacrifice is understood, the Divine Presence can have a home amongst Bnei Yisrael. In the absence of peace, however, if there is baseless hatred and conflict among the people, then the Divine Presence is removed from our midst. This was the case at the time of the destruction of the second Beit HaMikdash, when strife and conflict in the nation had such dire results.
The numerical vale of שלמים is 420, which is the number of years that the second Beit HaMikdash stood. When this lesson was forgotten, the Beit HaMikdash with all of its glory was taken from us. May this lesson once again resonate in our hearts, and may we soon be found worthy of the Divine Presence resting among us as before. (Kol Dodi)
כל המנחה אשר תקריבו לה’ לא תעשה חמץ כי כל שאר וכל דבש לא תקטירו ממנו אשה לה’. וכל קרבן מנחתך במלח תמלך
“Every meal offering that you offer to the Almighty, do not make it chometz; for you shall burn no yeast, nor any honey, in any offering of the Almighty made by fire. With all your offerings you shall offer salt.” (2:11, 13)
Yeast and honey were not permitted in the offerings on the altar. Yeast makes the dough rise higher, but it is also an external additive. Honey makes things taste sweeter, but it is also an external additive. Salt, on the other hand, brings out the flavor of the food, but only the flavor that it is already there. This, says Rabbi Mordechai Gifter, symbolizes a basic principle in spiritual matters. When serving the Almighty you should follow the model of salt. That is, utilize all the abilities and talents that you have to serve Him. Do not be like yeast that causes distortion of what there is. Do not be like honey that is very sweet but is something borrowed from the outside. Be yourself, but make every effort to be all that you can be.
This thought can be repeated frequently since there is a custom to dip bread into salt at the beginning of a meal. This is a reminder of the sacrifices. It can also serve as a reminder to be ourselves, but to utilize our potential to its fullest. (Growth Through Torah)
אשר נשיא יחטא ועשה אחת מכל מצות ה’ אלקיו אשר לא תעשינה בשגגה ואשם
“When a leader sins, and commits a sin from among all the commandments of Hashem that may not be done, unintentionally, and he becomes guilty. (4:22)
In listing the people from various strata of society who sin and the type of korban they must bring, the Torah generally uses the word im (if) to introduce the subject: “Im hakohen hamashiach yecheta – if the anointed Kohen will sin” (4:3); “Im kola das Yisrael yishgu – If the entire assembly of Israel shall err” (4:13); “Ve’im nefesh achas techeta bishgagah – if an individual person shall sin” (4:27). In one case, the Torah strays from the word im; “Asher nasi yecheta – When a president – leader sins.” (4:22)
With all other people, it’s a question of whether or not they will sin. “If so and so shall sin.” With a president-leader, there is a presupposition that he will sin. “When the leader sins.” Why? The Sforno explains that indeed. We expect a leader to sin, as the Torah states, “Vayishman Yeshurun Vayiv’at – and Yeshurun became fat and revolted” (Devarim 32:15). History has proven that – in the words of Lord Acton, a British foreign minister – “Power corrupts.” You can almost expect a ruler to sin, says Sforno, because he has all the power.
The three words אשר נשיא יחטא, are abbreviated by the word אני. The source of a president-leader’s sin is the arrogance of “I”. “There is no other equal to me!” (Rabbi Frand)
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