Points to Ponder

Vayikra 5777

And he called to Moshe (1:1) – Rashi notes that prior to all commandments Hashem first called with a Lashon Chibah – a language of love. Rav Chatzkel Levenstein ztl. noted that this style – unique to the Jewish Neviim as opposed to the Neveyei HaOlam – involved the love of Hashem as opposed to Mikreh and Tumah. The message was meant to be clear, not only is it important to deliver the message, how we choose to impart it speaks to whether it will be received with Kedusha or in a vacuum of Kedusha creating Tumah.

And Hashem spoke to him from the Ohel Moed (1:1) – Rashi notes that the call was in a voice that never left the Ohel Moed. Citing 2 different episodes – one a Gemara (Berachos 28a) and the other a Midrash (Tanchuma, Bechukosai 3), Rav Yehuda Amital ztl. highlighted the fact that while Torah emanates from within, it needs to be outside of the Beis HaMedrash too. The outside voices need to be brought into the Beis HaMedrash discussion while the inside Torah must make it outside. Moshe Rabbeinu indeed experienced a unique phenomenon whereby the Divine voice did not emerge outwards; God spoke to him alone, privately, with no interruptions. But in general, it is vital that the voice also make itself heard outside, and belong to all sectors of society.

He shall bring it willingly (1:3) – The Gemara tells us that everyone needs Daas except for the Michusrei Kappara. Thus, a baby can be made Tahor by being in the Mikvah even without Kavana. Similarly, the Korban brought for the Michusar Kappara can be brought without Daas since it is a korban brought to complete the Tahara process.  A Nazir when the Milos is up works in a similar way – the korbanos are brought for the purpose of ending the Nezirus (a Matir). Same holds true for a Ger who cannot eat from Korbanos unless he brings the Korban. Rav Schachter Shlita explains that this similarity explains the question of the Kessef Mishneh as to why the father who makes his son who is a kattan into a Nazir can bring korbanos on his behalf – without Daas because (as they say in the name of Rav Chaim) these korbanos are not being brought to atone, they are an end of the process and are like a Michusar Kappara.

Don’t omit the salt of Hashem’s covenant from your Korban Mincha (2:13) – Rashi explains that there is a Bris of salt from the lower waters – created on the second day of creation – that they would provide the salt that would be used in the Korbanos and the water for Simchas Beis HaShoeiva. The Imrei Emes explains that the Zohar added to the story. It seems that the lower water wanted to be close to Hashem and felt cheated when separated on the second day of creation. It was consoled by Hashem’s promise about the salt and the water. This was a promise to make Shalom between the upper and lowered waters. The Gerrer Rebbe added that this was the reason why the possuk says Sham Yashavnu Gam Bachinu at the rivers of Bavel. For at that time the waters from the rivers – and the other lower waters also cried with us – for they lost their chance to be close to Hashem when the Beis HaMikdash was destroyed.

And if you bring a Mincha of Bikkurim (2:14) – Rashi notes that the Mincha of Bikkurim here refers to the Omer which comes from barley. Why is  the Omer brought from barley which is identified as animal food? Rav Yaakov Kamenetzsky ztl. explained that Hashem is teaching us that it is not he who needs the Korban (else he would have needed a higher quality Korban). Rather it is he who wants us to bring certain Korbanos at certain times to reflect our needs as the givers. Hence at this time he insisted on a barley korban to prevent mistaking the need.


The sons of Aharon shall sprinkle the blood on the Alter around. And he shall offer up from the slaughtered peace offering (3:8-9) – Only the Korban Olah is entirely burnt on the Mizbeiach. A Chatas has the Cheilev and Dam brought on the Mizbeiach. Why? Rav Belsky ztl. explained that the Chatas is brought when one’s Yetzer HaRa bests him. The Yetzer HaRa is represented by a person’s fats and blood. The blood atones for the soul. The blood energizes the brain and allows it to function producing our thoughts and feelings and regulating many of the functions of man. Thus, the blood is the electrical current so to speak of the human body. It powers everything. But, every current needs to be filtered hence the role of the kidneys. Sin clogs the human the way that fat clogs the circulatory system. Bringing the fats and the blood onto the Mizbeiach is the representation of the removal of the things that withhold the building blocks that nurture our spiritual existence. The blood is elevated and the fats destroyed – the end result is a slimmer, leaner and more powerful us.

And it was hidden from him (5:2-3) – How could one forget that he was in the Beis HaMikdash and defiled it with Tumah (This is what the Talmud <Shavuos 14b>calls He’elam Mikdash)? Rav Elyashiv Ztl. explained that when people spend so much time in a place – even a holy one – they tend to forget the proper respect that they need to provide the place. (See also Sanhedrin 52b about being around a Talmid Chacham.) This si why Dovid HaMelech asked not only Shivtee but also L’Vaker B’Heichalo.

Haftorah: I am the first and I am the last (Yeshayahu 44:6) – Rav Pam ztl. bemoaned the lowly middah that sometimes afflicts people financially. They state that in regard to their finances that they do not have enough. When that is indeed the case the first thing to change is the lowering of the amounts that they contribute to Tzedaka (Ani Rishon) but when things impove the adjustment to giving does not change as fast (Ani Acharon). Ideally we try to not make this so.