This week, our Parshat HaShevua Vayikra is being sponsored by Ari and Michal Gruen of Ramat Beit Shemesh and dedicated for a speedy, full and complete Refuah Shlaima for Chaim Yechiel ben Malka (Rothman). To the Gruen family, many thanks for your sponsorship and for your continued kindnesses.
You can celebrate a Simcha — a birth, a Bar/Bat Mitzvah, a Chassuna or other Simcha event in your life, or commemorate a Yahrtzeit of a loved one, or for whatever other reason by sponsoring a Parshat HaShevua.
Please forward to your relatives and friends and encourage them to sponsor a Parshat HaShevua. And please be in contact with me with any questions, or for further details.
In past years, this author has discussed the first word of our parsha: Vayikra and why the word ends with a small “aleph.”
We are told how Hashem, Kav’yochal, would call gently, affectionately “Moshe, Moshe” in a voice for Moshe Rabbeinu’s ears only and Moshe would respond “Here I am.” (Rashi on Sefer Vayikra, Perek 1, posuk 1 — Metsuda Linear Chumash & Rashi with footnotes)
Moshe, always shirking honor, kavod, special treatment, or the perception of special treatment, fought “tooth to nail” that this first word, which would typify Hashem’s greeting when he wanted to speak privately with him in the Mishkan, should read “Vayikar.” This loshen “Vayikar” was later used when Hashem “happened to meet Bila’am” (Rashi on Sefer Vayikra, Perek 1, posuk 1) in Parsha Balak, like “…strangers who just met on the way”. That Moshe sought not to be perceived by Am Yisrael for all time as receiving honor, kavod and special treatment by Hashem tells much about Moshe Rabbeinu’s level of principle, integrity and his standard of leadership of B’nei Yisrael. Today’s governing leaders of medinat Yisrael could do with more than a few doses of Moshe’s humility and selflessness.
This time around though, the subject for discussion is Korbonot (sacrifices, offerings to Hashem).
Rabbi Mordechai Katz, in his sefer L’lmod U’lamed (page 101) discusses Kobonot and prayers:
The word Korbonot… contains the word “Korov”, meaning “near.” A Korbon then, is the means of approaching Hashem, supplicating for Divine forgiveness or demonstrating appreciation for Divine assistance, and thereby bringing one closer to the Divine Shechina [Presence].
Today…, without a Beit Hamikdash [Temple, Sanctuary], we are unfortunately unable to offer Korbonot. However, we have been granted an alternative method to express our contribution [our request for Divine forgiveness] and/or gratitude… through prayer.
Our prayers now serve the two basic purposes as did the Korbonot. They testify to Hashem’s mastery of the world, and they allow us to ask for Hashem’s assistance.
We pray to Hashem… with the knowledge that Hashem is everywhere and that He will hear our prayers no matter where we may be…. [As] a direct spiritual link to our Creator, the tefillot we say provide us with our own “hot line” to the Almighty.
Rabbi Yehudah Zev Segal, Shlita, z”l,The Manchester Rosh Yeshiva cites Rambam, including mentioning Dovid HaMelech in Tehillim, in discussing the Korbonot in the context of contrasting between Mishpatim and Chukim (pages 161-162):
Rambam in Yad HaChazakah (Hilchos Me’ilah Perek 8, posuk 8) writes:
Mishpatim are mitzvot whose reasons are obvious and the practical benefits of which are well known; examples include prohibitions against robbery and murder and the commandment to honor one’s father and mother. Chukim are mitzvot whose reasons are not known. As the Sages put it, [Hashem says,] “I have issued decrees and you have no right to question them.” One’s evil inclination is troubled by them and the nations of the world speak against them. Examples include laws regarding milk and meat, … parah adumah [the Red Heifer] [Bamidbar Perek 19] and the azazel goat [of Yom Kippur] [Vayikra Perek 16].
Dovid HaMelech suffer[ed] because of the heretics and idol worshippers who spoke against chukim. All the while that they contrived in accordance with their narrow-mindedness, his attachment to Torah was becoming strengthened, as it is written (Tehillim 119:69), “Willful sinners piled falsehood on me, but I cherish Your precepts with all my heart.” It is also written (Tehillim 119:86), ” All Your commandments are faithful; they [the heretics] pursue me with lies — help me!”
All korbonot fall into the category of chukim. The sages have said that the world exists because of the service of korbonot. (Megillah 31b)…. The command regarding chukim precedes that of mishpatim, as is written (Vatikra Perek 18, posuk 5), “You shall heed My chukim and mishpatim which a person shall perform and live by them.”
R’ Segal then writes:
With all that has been written, it is still beyond us to grasp just why the slaughter of a sanctified animal, the placing of its blood and the burning of its flesh upon the altar, should bring Hashem’s Presence down to earth…. Therefore, Rambam places korbonot in the category of chukim, commandments whose reasons are not known to us.
When a Jew offers a korban, he is demonstrating his unquestioning submission to Hashem’s will. It is as if he is saying, “I do not understand why this offering will accomplish great things for myself and for the world, but I know that it will accomplish great things, for that is what Hashem has taught us by way of His Torah.” Thus, bringing of a korban is a great declaration of faith. It is through this approach to Torah and mitzvot that a Jew earns himself a portion in the World to Come. That is what Chazal mean in saying that the world exists because of the service of korbonot.
Today, our recital of the Scriptual order of the korbonot service takes the place of the actual offerings.
May it be that we ALL soon act as Jews, including those who govern, and thus merit again having the Beit Hamikdash, the Kohanim performing their service and the re-institution of the korbonot service.
May we, the B’nai Yisrael be zocha that our brethren — the refugee families from Gush Katif be permanently settled and be made totally whole — be totally restituted for all that was stolen from them at leftist-agendized, supreme court legalized gunpoint, that our dear brethren Jonathan Pollard and Sholom Rubashkin, as well as the MIAs be liberated alive and returned to us in ways befitting Al Kiddush Hashem. May we have the courage and strength to stand up and physically prevent the possibility of Chas V’Challila any future eviction of Jews from their homes and the handing of Jewish land over to anyone, let alone to enemies sworn to Israel’s and Judaism’s destruction and eradication. May we fulfill Hashem’s blueprint of B’nai Yisrael as a Unique people — an Am Segula, not to be reckoned with as with “the nations” and may we be zocha to see the Moshiach, the Ge’ula Shlaima, as Dov Shurin sings; “Ki Karov Yom Hashem V’Kol HaGoyim”, the Ultimate Redemption, bimhayrah
b’yamainu — speedily, in our time”, — Achshav, Chik Chuk, Miyad, Etmol!!!
Moshe Burt, an Oleh, is a commentator on news and events in Israel and Founder and Director of The Sefer Torah Recycling Network. He lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.