Vayikra 5773 – Gilayon #791

Now if his hand cannot attain two turteldoves or two young pigeons,

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Parshat Vayikra

Now if his hand cannot attain two turteldoves

or two young pigeons,

He is to bring as his offering for what he sinned a

tenth of an efah of flour for an offense-offering; he is not to put on

it any oil,

He is not to place on it any frankincense, for it is

an offense-offering


A tenth of an

efah A person's consumption for a single day.

(Ibn Ezra

ibid, ibid)


Beloved is this mitzvah

when performed in its proper time, not delaying it until he becomes wealthy and

is able to bring a sheep or goat. And so with evaluation [of a person's worth],

he gives a selah immediately and does not wait

until he becomes wealthy and brings five selaim.


ibid, ibid)


For the offense that he has

committed – Let us compare the following: "And that concerning which

he has sinned from the sanctum" (5:16);

"forfeits his life" [lit. "sins against

his life"] (Proverbs 20:2); and "forfeits

his life" (Habakkuk 2:10). In these

passages, the subject of the verb "to sin" is not the sin itself, but

that which has been flawed by the sin: an object against which man has sinned

and damaged by the sin. This then is the meaning of "his offering for

which he sinned": The expression of proximity to God which he forfeited by

his transgression.

(R. Shimshon Rafael Hirsch Ibid, ibid)



A fragrant odor



At the center

of the national worship of God was the offering of sacrifices in the Tabernacle

and in the Temple.

Following the destruction of the Temple

over 2000 years ago, prayer  "worship in the heart" – supplanted

sacrifices. Because of this, sacrifices became a strange concept for most of

us. Today we find it difficult to comprehend the connection between the slaughtering

of an animal and the pouring of its blood onto the altar, and worship of the Creator.

In order to understand the inner essence of the sacrifices, we must answer two

basic questions. Perhaps through the clarification of these questions, we can

make our prayers more meaningful.


What is expected of the person

who offers a sacrifice?

The prophet

Isaiah admonishes the people of Israel:

"What need have I of all your sacrifices, says the Lord… Bring no

more vain oblations, incense is offensive to Me…

Even though you pray at length, I will not listen. Your hands are stained with

crime: [What, then, does God request?] Wash yourselves clean, put your

evil doings away from My sight, cease to do evil."

True sacrifice is dependent upon man's spiritual level; it is not lip

service or a mechanical ritual act, but rather spiritual improvement. King David,

in his Book of Psalms, emphasizes this idea: "Who may ascend the

mountain of the Lord, and who may stand on His holy place? He who has clean

hands and pure heart, who has not taken a false oath by My

life or sworn deceitfully" [one who is whole in all respects: action,

thought, and speech (RaDaK)]. In summation, the

bringing of the sacrifice is intended to bring man to a proper and holy condition.

Most offerings

are brought by the sinner as part of a process of repentance and atonement. The

basic intent of bringing the sacrifices flows from the internalization of the

understanding that actually the sinner should have been punished for his sin.

The sacrifice process shifts the process from the person to an animal and makes

it possible for the person to repent. The author of "Maor

VaShemesh" (Poland,

18th cent.) explains: "Because the person who brings

the offering, upon seeing the slaughter of the animal and sprinkling of its

blood [on the altar], application of incense and then consummation by

fire, he would think that it would have been proper that all this should have

done to him because of his transgressions, and his heart is broken to the point

of willingness to offer his soul for the Holy Name." In addition, the

sacrifice of the animal symbolizes man's desire to eradicate the "animal"

forces within him, those that are the source of the various passions.


For whom are the sacrifices



it possibly be that the Holy One, blessed be He, needs the offering for

himself, as is the case in eastern cultures where food and other needs are

brought to the gods? In this respect it is written in Psalms "Were I

hungry I would not tell you, for mine is the world and

all it holds." Even were we to presume that the sacrifice does serve

some need (hunger) of the Holy One – something which, of course, totally contradicts

every Jewish theological perception – even then He would not ask anything of

human beings, because all the universe is the Lord's, and how can little and

finite man help Him? We must conclude that the sacrifice is intended for the

good of man himself, and not for the good of the Creator. Therefore, the

words "A fragrant odor for the Lord", does not refer to some

pleasure which the Lord derives from the odor of the burning offering, but to

the process which occurs in the soul of the person who brings the sacrifice. If

this process is properly executed, then the offering will find favor and will

bring true satisfaction [nichoachfragrant

– is understood by Rashi as meaning nachat ruach –"satisfaction,

pleasure"] to the Holy One. Therefore the Talmud (Menachot 110a) explains: It is written regarding the burnt

offering of a beast [in the passage under discussion] "a fragrant

odor", and with regard to the burnt offering of a fowl: "an offering

by fire a fragrant odor to the Lord (Vayikra

1), and with the mincha [meal offering]: a fire offering of

fragrant odor for God (Vayikra 2). To

teach you: It is the same whether one offers much or little, as long as he

directs his heart to heaven". In other words, the quality of the

observance of the mitzvah is not dependent upon the size of the animal

offered upon the altar, but upon the proper intention of the supplicant's


But the

concept "nachat ruach"

has a deeper and wider meaning. There are always two tracks open to us in our

relationship to the other. The first is based upon personal gain. Each step is

measured accord to its worthwhileness in fulfilling personal needs, which

center about achieving greater pleasure or avoidance of suffering. This track

serves only the egoistic drives of the person, with no consideration of the

needs of the other (either another person or the Holy One Himself). Observance

of mitzvoth, according to this approach, is based upon fear of

punishment and anticipation of reward – whether in terms of human relationships

or of divine reward in this or the next world. This attitude is termed by the

Sages "service out of other motives"; it certainly testifies to a

lower level of spiritual, emotional, and moral development.

The second

track proposes to set aside self-love and to concentrate on the benefit of the

other. This track begins with the attempt to prevent anything which may cause

pain to the other. Therefore Hillel paraphrased "Love your fellow as

yourself" with: "What is hateful to you, do not to your fellow"!

And when one succeeds and rises yet higher, he is able to act on the level of a

single intention, and that is to give the other a

feeling of good and wholeness, or, in other words – nachat

ruach. Closeness to God – and also to the other – is achieved by

sacrifice, that is to say, by concentration on the needs of the other and

giving priority to the other's needs – or God's will – over his own needs, and

this is the desired intent in the worship of God, that every act or mitzvah

be only "to do nachat ruach before

Him", that our behavior in this world give Him cause for joy and



Oppenheimer is a physician, lives in Mitzpeh Netofah,,

and is a founder of the "Ohr P'nimi"

organization for dissemination of the teachings of Rav Ashlag



is the Adam (Person) Who Offers Sacrifice?

Adam includes converts who take the covenant upon

themselves as does Israel,

including non-Jews who do so. Even though adam here

means [a member of] Israel,

later in the verse we find the word mikem

[from you], which means from you but not from

the nations of the world. Together they constitute an instance of one

exclusionary phrase being followed by another. [According to the hermeneutic

rule] such a double exclusion must imply the inclusion of

non-Jews. Similarly, [we apply this rule to the repetitive expression] ish

ish ("every man and man"), saying that it includes non-Jews,

that they make vows and pledges like Israelites.

(Hizkuni Vayikra




was Destroyed Because of Kamtza and Bar Kamtza"


was an incident involving a certain man whose friend was called

"Kamtza" and whose enemy was called "Bar Kamtza." He made a

feast, and told his servant: "Bring me Kamtza." He went and

[mistakenly] brought him Bar Kamtza. He came and discovered him [Bar Kamtza]

sitting [at the feast]. He said to him: "Look, you hate me, what are you

doing here? Get up and leave!" He said to him: "Since I am already

here, leave me alone, and I will pay you the cost of whatever I eat and

drink." He told him: "No!"… "I will pay the cost of your

entire feast!"… "No!" They grabbed him by the hand, stood him

up, and took him out.


Kamtza said: Since there were sages sitting there and did not protest – they

are untroubled [by my humiliation] – I will go and inform on them to the king.

He came to the Emperor and told him: "The Jews have rebelled against

you"… The Emperor said, "Who can know?

He told

the Emperor: Send them an offering and see if they will sacrifice it.

He went

and sent a calf with him (Bar Kamtza). On the way, Bar Kamtza mutilated its lip

– others say he mutilated the external membrane of the eye – a place that is

considered a flaw for us [rendering the animal unfit for sacrifice] but not for

them [according to Roman ritual law].


Sages said it should be sacrificed to preserve the peace of the kingdom. Rabbi

Zekhariyah ben Avikolus said to them: "[People] will say, 'unfit animals

are sacrificed at the altar!?'"


said that Bar Kamtza should be killed, so that he would not go and tell the

king, Rabbi Zekhariyah told them: "People will say: 'One who blemishes a

consecrated animal is to be killed?!'"


Yokhanan said: Rabbi Zekhariyah ben Avikolus's humility destroyed our house,

burned our temple, and banished us from our land."




More on "a fragrant odor"

A fragrant odor – Since whatever

is placed on the fire is consumed and becomes ash, and all that remains of it

is the odor, therefore does it say "reyach

nichoach"– "a fragrant odor", and

the word rayach [usually translated as 'fragrant'] is related to the

word 'menucha' – 'rest', and in this context it

refers to the resting of the object, as we have explained [in the coming quotes],

not, forefend, that the Lord smells the scent, but that the Lord desires the

righteous act, everyone who acts justly gives his Maker, as it were, 'nachat ruach' , the

satisfaction of His will being done, as we have said [see coming quotes].

(R. Yitzchak Shmuel Reggio, Shemot 28:18)


And on the seventh day He

rested – The word 'menucha' – 'rest'-

does not refer to one who ceased activity because of fatigue, but rather to

cessation of movement, and can therefore be applied even to an inanimate subject,

as in the case of "and the ark rested" (Bereishit

8:4) and 'fatigue' is not applicable to something that lacks feeling,

but it means resting after having been moved, and this movement can be of two

sorts, physical and spiritual, and as a rule the spiritual movement and the

rest which follows is movement of the inner desire, for someone who desires

something as long as the objective exists but he has not achieved it, the

objective is as though it was being moved back and forth, and when the objective

is attained, it finds rest, and in this borrowed sense the Torah says "And

He rested on the seventh day", […] meaning that when He stopped His

work, his supreme will, as it were, rested, teaching that with great desire He

created the universe.

(Reggio, Shemot 20:11).


And the Lord smelled the

fragrant odor – Forefend [that we should understand] that He be affected by

the odor, but the meaning of this flowery phrase is as follows: odor is that

impression which remains after [an object's] being hidden or having disappeared

from the other senses, and one who remembers preserves impressions of things

after they have disappeared from the senses, therefore 'reyach'

– 'odor'- in the holy tongue is termed 'zecher v'azkara' – 'memory and remembrance', and the sense of

smell is equivalent to memory, as is written 'mazkir levona' 'remembrance of frankincense' rather that 'burning

of frankincense', and now [we can understand] "And He smelled the fragrant

odor", meaning that He remembered the offering and the person who offered

it favorably.                        (Reggio, Bereishit 8:21)


There are sins which oblige the

sinner to bring an offering entitled "raised and lowered" – meaning,

if he is wealthy, he offers an costly offering, a sheep: "But if his

means do not suffice for a sheep, he shall bring to the Lord, as his penalty

for that of which he is guilty, two turtledoves or two pigeons" (Vayikra 5:7), and if he lacks even this:

"He shall bring for his offering of that of which he is guilty a tenth

of an epha of choice flour."

"Once a woman brought to the

Templekometz [a

handful] of choice flour, and the priest scorned her, saying: What are they

offering? What is there to eat? The priest dreamt: Do not scorn her, for it is

as if she had offered her soul."

(Vayikra Rabba 3:5)


The pauper's meager offering is

equal in value to the precious offering of the rich.

(A. Stahl, "Shabbat B'Shabbato" vol. II, p.11)


Said R. Abahu: Let a person

always be of the pursued and not of the pursuers, because there are no birds

pursued more than the dove and its young, and Scripture approved them for

offering on the altar.

(Bavli, Bava Kama





Nasi Yehta: Governmental

Ethics – Reality and Hope

Asher nasi yehta [when a chieftain

sins] as in ashrei ["happy is"],

happy is the generation whose chieftain takes care to bring a proprietary

sacrifice for his errors, all the more so if he shows contrition for his

deliberate offenses.

 (Rashi VaYikra 4:22, following Horayot 10b and Sifra 5:1)


In all the other cases

it says, if the anointed priest sins, if the entire

congregation of Israel

errs – but regarding the chieftain it says: When a

chieftain sins.

Our traditional texts

say something very penetrating regarding this. Every soul in Israel, even the anointed priest,

even the entire community – may sin. However, this does not necessarily have to

occur. That is why it says if. The chieftain, however, will certainly sin. Why? Because he is the

chieftain, and the wielding of governmental power is itself sufficient to

corrupt a man. Therefore, the Torah does not speak of this as a possible

situation ("if a chieftain sins") but rather establishes it from the

start: when a

chieftain sins – it is a certainty that he

will sin. There can be no chieftainship, no regime, in which he who holds power

does not sin or transgress. Such is the Torah's general attitude towards

political power: The Torah recognizes it and its authority, but – "Honor

it and be suspicious of it."

 (From Yeshayahu

Leibowitz z"l He'arot

le'Parshiyotr Ha'Shavua)


Humility is a prerequisite for

serving god

"And if a person offends and

does any one of all the commands of the Lord that should not be done and does

not know and is guilty". It is known that the more a person [truly] worships

the Holy One, blessed be He, the more he sees himself as insignificant

as compared to the greatness of the Creator. But when one performs a mitzvah,

and assumes that he is serving the Lord, this mitzvah is not taken into

consideration, and this is the meaning of the passage "And if a person

offends", that is to say: What is the offense? "He does any one of

all the commands of the Lord that should not be done and does not know and is

guilty" meaning that this mitzvah is considered as having not been

done, while he thinks that that he has served God properly, he is guilty.

(From "Kedushat Levi", R. Levi

Yitzchak of Berdichev's commentary on the Torah}



Readers react (To Dalia Marx's

article, Terumah 5773)

Three relevant thoughts came

to mind as I read Dalia Marx's intriguing thoughts on Parashat


1. The wise-hearted female weavers in the Torah are judged negatively by R.

Eliezer (Yerushalmi, Sotah, Chap.

3): "A woman's wisdom is with the spindle alone", and

therefore he refuses to respond to a woman's question on Torah matters. In the

Chapters of R. Eliezer, a later composition attributed to him, this same

passage is expounded within the framework of praise for the women of Israel,

who wove for the Tabernacle and also refused to donate their golden ornaments

for the calf, and therefore their reward in this world is the observance of

Rosh Chodesh, and in the world to come they will merit renewal.

2. The tradition according

to which different images were woven into the two sides of the curtain reminds

me of Tamar Ross's story about a synagogue which had a mechitsah

(division) on which was embroidered a passage that could be read only from the

men's section. Is it not interesting how the parochet, which separated

and prevented approach to the Holy Ark, developed not only into the curtain

which covers the Holy Ark in our synagogue, but also into a divider.


Another development of the parochet

is the pargod, the divider in the celestial spheres. In the poem"Elah Ezkera",

stains of the martyrs' blood appear on the pargod.

And in the Bavli (Yoma 57a) R. Eliezer b. R. Yossi sees the Temple parochet

in Rome, and

upon it drops of blood, perhaps the blood of the sacrifices.

Very well done,

Leah Shakdiel,




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