פ’ ויקרא תשע”ז
Volume 18, 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
“Hashem called to Moshe…” (1:1)
The letter aleph in the word Vayikra is written slightly smaller than full size. In order to understand the significance of this anomaly, we must bear in mind that, aside from being the first letter in the aleph beis, the word aleph is also a verb denoting to learn, to tech, as in Hachareish va’alefcha chochmah – “Be still, and I will teach you wisdom. (Iyov 33:33)
The small aleph thus conveys the message that if you want to gain knowledge, you must make yourself small and humble yourself. Moshe Rabbeinu exemplifies this lesson. He was privileged to be called by Hashem because he humbled himself, shunning the pride and glory of leadership. (Kli Yakar)
אדם כי יקריב מכם
“When a man among you brings an offering…” (1:2)
When a person comes to bring a korban, he should think in his heart “מכם”, which is the roshei teivot for מדה כנגד מדה – measure for measure. This way the person will recognize his transgressions, and do teshuvah properly. (Ben Ish Chai)
The Midrash states that when Bnei Yisrael heard the parshah dealing with the korbanos they became very frightened. They feared the time when there would be no Beit HaMikdash. How would their sins be forgiven? Moshe reassured them, ‘Involve yourselves in Torah and you will not be afraid.’ Torah study alone atones like Korbanos, as Chazal tell us that one who involves himself in Torah study does not need an Olah, Minchah, or Chatas (Menachos 110). That is what is meant by the verse, ‘This is the Torah for the Olah (Shemos 6:1). When one learns Torah, it is like he brought a Korban Olah.” (Chacham Yehudah Elbaz z”l of Morocco)
A wise man would say: “If you can find a path with no obstacles, it probably doesn’t lead anywhere.’”
A Link Between Korbanot and Prayers
What are korbanot? What is their purpose? A clue to the answer comes from an examination of the word korbanot, which contains the word “karov”, meaning “near”. A korban then is a means of approaching Hashem, supplicating for Divine forgiveness or demonstrating appreciation for Divine assistance, and thereby bringing one closer to the Holy Shechina. Today, because we are tragically without a Beis Hamikdash, we are unfortunately unable to offer korbanot. However, we have been granted an alternate method to express our contribution and/or gratitude, and that is through prayer. Our prayers now serve the same two basic purposes as did the korbanot. They testify to the fact that we acknowledge Hashem’s mastery of the world, and they allow us to ask for Hashem’s assistance.
When we pray to Hashem, we do so with the knowledge that Hashem is everywhere and that He will hear our prayers no matter where we may be. Our prayers provide us with a direct spiritual link to our Creator; the tefillot we say provide us with our own “hot line” to the Almighty. This was the outlook displayed by a Sage, who was told a century ago, about a new invention called the telephone, with which one can speak to someone else a great distance away without even seeing him. “What is so new about that?” commented the Sage. “I have been communicating with Hashem like that for years and years through my prayers.” (Lilmod U’lilamed)
אשר נשיא יחטא
“When a leader sins…” (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 leader sins.” (4:22)
With all other people, it’s a question whether or not they will sin. “If so and so shall sin.” With a leader, there is a presupposition that he will sin. “When the leader sins.” Why? Sforno explains that indeed, we expect a leader to sin, as the Torah states, “Vayishman Yehsurun vayiv’at – and Yeshurun became fat and revolted” (Devarim 32:15). (Admor R’ Nuta of Chelm)
The three words אשר נשיא יחטא, are abbreviated by the word אני. The source of a president or leader’s sin is the arrogance of “I”. There is no other equal to me! (Rabbi Frand)
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