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Vedibarta Bam And You Shall Speak of Them
Volume III Vayikra


by Rabbi Moshe Bogomilsky
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"Command Aharon and his sons saying, 'This is the law of the burnt-offering.'" (6:2)

QUESTION: Rashi writes that the term "tzav" denotes "zeiruz" encouragement for the present and future generations, and Rabbi Shimon said that it is especially necessary to give encouragement in cases of chisaron kis loss of money. What monetary loss does the pasuk refer to?
ANSWER: From karbanot shelamim peace-offerings that were brought in the Sanctuary, the Kohanim serving that day would receive the breast and thigh (7:31). The karbanot olah burnt offerings were burnt entirely on the altar, and the Kohanim thus gained nothing from them (except for the hide, which were given to the officiating Kohanim 7:8).

Thus, the Kohanim, being mortals, may have had very little interest in bringing up the burnt-offerings and would instead encourage people to bring peace-offerings (karbanot shelamim). The Torah, therefore, particularly exhorts the Kohanim concerning the burnt-offerings.

Alternatively, from the words "Zot torat ha'olah," the Gemara (Menachot 110b) derives that when someone studies the Torah the laws of the burnt-offering it is considered as though he actually offered one to Hashem, as is the case with all other karbanot.

The Prophet writes, "The lips of the Kohen heed knowledge, and Torah will be sought from his lips" (Malachi 2:7). Kohanim were the teachers and guides of K'lal Yisrael.

In the time of the Beit Hamikdash due to their monetary gain, the Kohanim had an obvious motivation to encourage people to bring karbanot. However, encouraging people to verbally study about karbanot, superficially, did not benefit them. Consequently, the Torah urges them to impress upon the people, "Zot torat ha'olah" that studying about a karban is equivalent to actually offering it.

"Command Aharon and his sons saying, 'This is the law of the burnt-offering.'" (6:2)

QUESTION: Rashi writes that the term "tzav" denotes encouragement for the present and for future generations, and Rabbi Shimon said that it is especially necessary to give encouragement in the places where there is a "chisaron kis" "loss of money."
"Chisaron kis" literally means "loss of purse." Why does the text not say "chisaron mamon" "loss of money"?
ANSWER: The burnt-offering atones for sinful thoughts (Midrash Rabbah 7:3). A person can also sin with his eyes by viewing improper things, and with his ears by hearing evil, and with his tongue by speaking sinfully.

To avoid speaking, the upper and lower jaw are like a "kis" (purse) that can lock up the tongue. The eyelids are a "kis" that can cover the eyes and prevent them from seeing evil. The external parts of the ears can be a "kis" with which to seal them from hearing evil. The only part of the body that has no protective guard is the mind.

Therefore, Rabbi Shimon says that it is necessary to warn a person to be especially careful with his thoughts because of "chisaron kis" the absence of an external constraint.

"Command Aharon and his sons, saying: 'This is the law of the elevation-offering [that stays] on the flame, on the altar, all night until the morning, and the fire of the altar should be kept lit on it.' " (6:2)


  1. The word "leimor" "saying" is used when a command is issued with the intention that it be conveyed to others. Since Aharon and his sons were the only Kohanim, to whom were they supposed to pass on the command?

  2. The vowel for the word hi is a "chirik" and it is thus read as "hi" which is the feminine "she." Why is it spelled with a vav which is usually read "hu" "he"?

  3. Since the word "olah" is feminine, (as can be seen from the pasuk, "Venitach otah lenitachehah" "And cut it into its pieces" [1:6]), the pasuk should have concluded, "ve'eish hamizbei'ach tukad bah" instead of "tukad bo"?

ANSWER: The Ramban (1:9) explains the concept of bringing animals as sacrifices in the following way: A person should realize that he has sinned against Hashem with his body and soul and that it is really "his" blood that should be spilled and his body burnt. It is only that Hashem in His loving kindness accepts a substitute and a ransom, namely this offering. Its blood takes the place of the sinner's blood, its life takes the place of his life, and the chief limbs of the offering are in place of the chief limbs of his body. If the sinner considers this, he will be inspired to sincerely repent.

Our pasuk is alluding to this thought by saying, "Command Aharon and his sons 'leimor' that they should say to each individual who brings a sacrifice and explain to them that not only 'hi ha'olah' it (the sacrifice) is a burnt-offering but actually 'hu' 'he' i.e. the person himself should have been 'ha'olah' placed upon the altar to atone for his misdeeds, and 've'eish hamizbei'ach tukad bo' the fire of the altar should be burning on him, the offerer. However, Hashem in His mercy has prescribed that he bring an animal as a substitute, and when he will repent he will be pardoned.

"This is the law of the burnt-offering: it is the burnt-offering which shall remain on the fire all night until the morning, and the fire of the altar should be kept aflame on it." (6:2)


  1. Why does it say "Zot torat ha'olah" "This is the law of the burnt-offering"?

  2. The words "hi ha'olah" are superfluous.

ANSWER: In the time of the Beit Hamikdash, a Jew was able to actually bring a live animal as a karban to be offered on the altar. In addition, whoever studies the Torah laws about the burnt-offering is considered to actually have brought a burnt-offering (see Menachot 110a). This is derived from the words "torat ha'olah."

The darkest period in Jewish history is galut being in exile deprived of the Beit Hamikdash. This period is compared to "lailah" night. When the Jews have a Beit Hamikdash, their lives are luminous, and such a period is referred to as "boker" morning. The Torah is teaching us that "zot torat ha'olah" "this is the law of the burnt-offering." When one studies these laws "hi ha'olah" it is as though one is actually making a sacrifice on the altar.

It is important, however, to remember that this is sufficient only "kol halailah ad haboker" the entire period of galut until the break of dawn. When dawn breaks and the light of the Beit Hamikdash begins to shine for the Jewish people, it will not be sufficient to simply study about karbanot but "ve'eish hamizbei'ach tukad bo" one must actually bring karbanot to be burnt on the altar.

"And he shall wear linen breeches on his flesh." (6:3)

QUESTION: The words "al besaro" "on his flesh" teach us that the garments must be worn directly on his flesh with nothing else intervening (Rashi).
On Yom Kippur the Kohen Gadol would immerse in a mikvah, dry himself, and change into other garments. He needed to dry himself so that there would be no water between his flesh and the garments (see Rambam, Avodat Yom Hakippurim 2:2, Mishneh Lemelech).
The Gemara (Zevachim 35a) praises the Kohanim for walking in blood up to their knees while they performed the service in the Beit Hamikdash. A question is raised: Why isn't the blood considered a chatzitzah separation between their feet and the floor? The Gemara answers that liquids are not considered a separation. If so, why was it necessary for the Kohen Gadol to dry himself after immersing?
ANSWER: The reason why there may not be any chatzitzah separation between the Kohen's foot and the floor is not because his foot must be in contact with the floor, but because otherwise he is not totally on the Beit Hamikdash property while performing the service. Thus, though liquids are a foreign substance they do not create a separation, and even if they are under his feet it is nevertheless considered that he is standing on Beit Hamikdash property.

In the case of the garments, however, there is a specific halachah that they must be al besaro tightly fitted and in contact with his flesh and even an air space between his flesh and the garment is considered a chatzitzah separation (see Zevachim 19a). The Kohen Gadol must therefore dry himself thoroughly after immersing, because in regard to the rule of "al besaro," the water would be a separation, since the garments would not be firmly in contact with his flesh.

"And the Kohen shall don his fitted linen tunic... and he shall remove the ashes." (6:3)

QUESTION: What is the significance of the mitzvah of removing the ashes from the altar?
ANSWER: When a person sins, he must offer a karban and also do teshuvah. He regrets his past and resolves to be better in the future. According to halachah (Shulchan Aruch, Choshen Mishpat 228:4), it is forbidden to remind a penitent of his past. The Torah alludes to this with the mitzvah of the removal of the ashes. After the karban has been sacrificed on the altar, only the ashes are left. Removing the ashes teaches us that a person can start over with a clean slate, with no trace remaining of his sin.

"In the place where the burnt-offering is slaughtered shall the sin-offering be slaughtered." (6:18)

QUESTION: Why did the Torah prescribe that the two karbanot be slaughtered in the same place?
ANSWER: A sin-offering is brought by a person who has violated the Torah, while a bunt-offering is brought as a contribution to the Beit Hamikdash. To protect the reputation of the people, the Torah commands that they both be slaughtered in the same place, so that if someone observes the animal being slaughtered, he will not suspect that the owner is a sinner, but rather a generous person bringing a contribution.

Since tefillah (prayer) takes the place of avodah (sacrifices), the Gemara (Sotah 32b) says that the sages have prescribed that the tefillah of Shemoneh Esreih be recited quietly, so that a sinner who wants to confess to Hashem should not be overheard by his neighbor and suffer embarrassment.

"This is the law of the sin-offering." (6:18)

QUESTION: Every morning before shacharit we recite the mishnayot of "Eizehu mekoman" (Zevachim chapter 5), which discuss the various offerings. The third mishnah states, chatat hatzibur vehayachid" "The sin-offerings of the community and the individual these are the communal sin-offerings: the he-goats offered on Rosh Chodesh..." Why does the Mishnah then only enumerate the sin-offering of the community and not of the individual?
ANSWER: Originally, the sun and moon were created equal in size and strength. When the moon complained, "It is inappropriate for two kings to use the same crown," it was made smaller. (See Bereishit 1:16 Rashi.)

According to the Midrash, the he-goat for a sin-offering on Rosh Chodesh is offered because Hashem asked the Jewish people to offer a sacrifice on his behalf so that He could gain atonement for diminishing the moon (Bamidbar 28:15, Rashi).

Thus, the Mishnah is saying that there is a sin-offering which is communal and individual the he-goats of Rosh Chodesh, which are given by the community on behalf of the Yachid the One and Only A-mighty G-d.

"An earthenware vessel in which it was cooked shall be broken." (6:21)

QUESTION: Rashi explains that the reason for this is that the absorbed meat becomes "notar" (flesh of holy offerings remaining uneaten after the designated time).
When a vessel is not used for more than 24 hours, whatever is absorbed in it becomes pagum (spoiled). So why can't we use the earthenware vessel after 24 hours?
ANSWER: Pirkei Avot (5:5) lists the miracles that took place in the Beit Hamikdash, one of which is that, "The meat of the sacrifices never spoiled." Thus, the absorption in the vessels was always fresh. Since earthenware vessels cannot be koshered through purging, the "fresh" absorbed meat becomes "notar" and disqualifies the vessel for further use.

"If you shall offer it for a thanksgiving-offering." (7:12)

QUESTION: Rashi explains that the thanksgiving-offering is offered by the following categories of people: "seafarers, and those who travel desserts, or those released from prison, or one who recovers from sickness. For they must offer thanks, as it is written regarding them," they should give thanks to Hashem, for His kindness, and for His wonders to mankind, and they should slaughter thanksgiving-offerings" (Psalms 107:22).
The four are mentioned in Psalms in one order (wilderness, prison, sickness, sea) and in the Gemara (Berachot 54b) in a different order (sea, wilderness, sickness, prison). Tosafot explains that the order in Psalms is according to the extent of danger experienced and that the order in the Gemara is according to frequency of occurrence. The order Rashi lists is neither the same as in Psalms nor the Gemara. Why does he use this order?
ANSWER: There is a popular saying that "Experience is the best teacher." When one is teaching about how to express gratitude to Hashem, the lesson is best understood and accepted by one who has personally experienced Hashem's miracles.

Consequently, the first time Moshe taught about a karban todah a thanksgiving-offering he cited examples of miracles which the people had personally experienced so that afterwards they would compare them to future events to determine the proper occasions for a karban todah.

Therefore, Rashi lists the cases in the order in question because undoubtedly Moshe explained them to correspond to the Jews' own experience.

The first of the four cases which they had personally experienced was "yordei hayam" the crossing of the sea. Afterward they experienced "holchei midbariot" traveling the desert. Then they experienced the third, "chavushei beit asurim" incarceration in prison for though they were originally meant to travel the desert a very short time and go on to Eretz Yisrael immediately, due to the sin of the spies, Hashem imprisoned them for forty years in "the great and awesome desert of snakes, fiery serpents, scorpions and thirst where there was no water" (Devarim 8:15).

Finally, Rashi mentions also the fourth category of a "choleh shenitrapeh" "a sick person who is healed." Though they had not yet experienced this, a miracle of such magnitude certainly requires a karban todah to thank Hashem.

Appropriately, Rashi mentions only the first three categories in plural, because this was something that the Jews had all experienced.

"And the flesh of the sacrifice of his thanksgiving peace-offerings; on the day of his offering it shall be eaten." (7:15)

QUESTION: Usually an offering of lesser sanctity (kadashim kalim) such as the karban shelamim peace offering may be eaten for two days and one night; Why is the karban todah thanksgiving peace-offering limited to only one day and the succeeding night?
ANSWER: A thanksgiving peace-offering is brought in recognition of a miracle that was done by Hashem on behalf of the individual. Miracles happen daily and continuously, as we say in the Amidah, "and for your miracles which are with us daily." Limiting the time when the karban todah may be eaten teaches us that each day one should be aware of and appreciate the new miracles Hashem constantly performs on his behalf.

"And the fat of the animal that has died and the fat of an animal that has been torn to death may be put to any use, but eaten it shall not be eaten." (7:24)

QUESTION: Why the extra word "ve'achol" "and eaten"? It should simply say "lo tochluhu" "it shall not be eaten."
ANSWER: According to halachah, a sick person whose life is in danger may eat non-kosher food to save his life. If he has a choice of eating the non-kosher fat of a kosher animal (such as a cow that was slaughtered), or non-kosher fat from a "neveilah" a carcass not slaughtered properly he is required to eat the fat of the kosher animal, in order to limit the number of isurim (forbidden acts) being performed. (See Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 328: 14.)

Perhaps our pasuk is hinting at this by telling us that though the fat of a dead animal may be put to general use, it may not be eaten. Even if "ve'achol" it is necessary for a sick person to eat non-kosher fat "lo tochluhu" do not eat this non-kosher fat, but instead eat the non-kosher fat of a slaughtered animal.

"And he slaughtered..." (8:23)

QUESTION: The "trop" (cantillation) on this word is a shalshelet a three-tiered tremolo tone. In the Torah we find three other words chanted with a shalshelet:

  1. When the angels told Lot to leave the city of Sodom, we are told "vayitmahmah" "and he lingered" (Bereishit 19:16).

  2. When Eliezer went to find a suitable wife for Yitzchak, he prayed and we are told "vayomar" "and he said" (Bereishit 23:12).

  3. When the wife of Potifar wanted Yosef to commit a sin, the Torah says "vayema'ein" "and he refused" (Bereishit 39:8).

What connection is there between these four expressions sung with a shalshelet?

ANSWER: The Gemara (Berachot 5a) says that a person should incite his yeitzer tov against his yeitzer hara (declare war against the yeitzer hara), and if he manages to overcome the yeitzer hara it is good, but if not he should engage in the study of Torah. If this does not defeat the yeitzer hara, then he should recite the Shema, and if he is still not successful then he should remind the yeitzer hara of the day of death.

According to commentaries, the "day of death" does not refer to the individual's passing, which the yeitzer hara strives for since he is also the angel of death (Bava Batra 16a). It is referring to the dictum of the Gemara (Sukkah 52a) that in the future Hashem will slaughter the yeitzer hara. Therefore, the Gemara is saying that if one's yeitzer hara is manifesting itself, "yazkir lo yom hamitah" one should remind him that he is going to be slaughtered and that he should not be too proud of himself.

A person must strive to restrain his yeitzer hara, but if he sees that "vayitmahmah" the yeitzer hara lingers on and does not want to give up "vayomar" he should begin to study divrei Torah and recite the Shema. But if "vayema'ein" the yeitzer hara still refuses to give up then "vayishchat" he should inform the yeitzer hara that Hashem will slaughter it one day and upon hearing this the yeitzer hara will stop pestering the Jew to violate the Torah.

"And Aharon and his sons did all the things which G-d commanded through Moshe." (8:36)

QUESTION: Rashi writes, "This declares their praise that they did not turn (deviate) to the right or to the left." What kind of praise is this for such distinguished spiritual luminaries, that they fulfilled the will of Hashem?
ANSWER: Often when a person is asked to be a sheliach tzibur community representative or deliver a Torah thought, he humbly shakes his head, expressing a sense of unworthiness. By moving his head to the right and to the left, he is in effect saying, "Who am I to perform such a prominent task?" In reality, however, they are proud that they were asked and are anticipating being approached again before giving their consent.

The praise of Aharon and his children was that when they received a command, they immediately set out to do it without moving their heads "to the right and to the left," demonstrating pseudo-humility and expecting to be asked again.

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