Parshat Vayikra Vol.10 No.26

Date of issue: 6 Nissan 5761 -- March 31, 2001

This week’s issue has been sponsored by 
the Koolyk family
in honor of Miri’s Bat Mitzvah.

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This week's featured writers:

Rabbi Avi Rosenfeld
Avi Shteingart
Ami Friedman
Rabbi Howard Jachter
-*Divergent Family Customs Between Husband and Wife*
Food For Thought
-by *David Gertler*

Do It or Else
by Rabbi Avi Rosenfeld

Sefer Vayikra deals with a variety of sacrifices, including the sin offerings, Chataot, the peace offerings, Shelamim, and the burnt offerings, Olot. When the Torah introduces the Oleh, the first sacrifice mentioned in Vayikra, the Torah writes, Yakriv Oto Liretzono Lifnei Hashem, “A person must bring this Korban voluntarily before Hashem.” Rashi, quoting the Gemara in Rosh Hashana (6a), states that at times it is necessary for the Bait Din to force a person to bring a sacrifice. This is learned from the words, Yakriv Oto, “he must bring it.” However, the word Liretzono states that the sacrifice must be brought willingly. The Gemara resolves this contradiction by stating that the courts have a right to pressure a person until he says he wishes to bring the Korban (Kofin Oto Ad Sheyomar Rotzeh Ani). This Gemara requires explanation. How is it possible to force a person to do any action willingly?

We can answer this question by analyzing another difficult idea. Halacha requires all divorces be given voluntary. Unfortunately, at times, a man does not wish to give his wife a divorce when he must. Under certain limited circumstances, the courts have the right to force a person to divorce. This is also an example of Kofin Oto Ad Sheyomar Rotzeh Ani, as we force a person to voluntarily hand his wife the divorce contract. The Rambam, when dealing with the laws of divorce (Hilchot Gerushin Chapter 2 section 20), explains the reason behind this apparent contradiction. The only time a person is considered forced (Ones) is when he is required to do something that the Torah does not insist be done. However, if a person does not act properly (i.e. he refuses to perform a Mitzva), he is doing so because he has acquiesced to his Yetzer Hara. When the court “forces” a person to do something, the Rambam writes, the court is in fact restoring his true will, which is to fulfill the laws of the Torah. The driving logic behind this fascinating insight is that a Jew fundamentally wants to act in accordance with the Torah, despite what his actions may indicate.

This is exactly the idea the Torah is conveying to us regarding Korbanot. For whatever reason, if a person is not willing to bring a Korban that he has promised to offer, the courts have the right to force his hand. This is derived from the word Yakriv, the Korban must be brought even against a person’s free will. However, the Korban’s component of Liretzono, that it must be brought voluntarily, still exists because the person truly wants to do what is right, even if he does not realize it right now.

There is an extremely powerful message behind this Halacha. In Judaism, we believe every person is inherently good. Despite the fact that people sometimes sin, the internal nature of the Jew remains basically good. It is our responsibility to be Kofin Oto Ad Sheyomar Rotzeh Ani, to always force ourselves to become better people.

To Believe or Not To Believe
by Avi Shteingart

To claim that one believes in Hashem is a lot easier then acting on this claim. For example, we all agree that it is important to learn everyday. However, putting this belief into practice is a much more difficult task.

We should not wait until Hashem sends us a message to go learn or to put any of our beliefs into practice. In this week’s Parsha, the Torah teaches that one gives a Korban when he commits a sin. Why does a man give an animal to be sacrificed when he sins? Rabbi Mark Smilowitz explains (based on the Rambam) that when the man watches the animal being slaughtered by the Kohen, he has a near-death experience. The man realizes that he could have been offered on the Mizbeach. The man will therefore repent and put himself on the right track towards Hashem.

In Dr. Joel Berman’s unit in the Israeli army, there was a certain man who was nicknamed Satan. This nickname fit him very well because he would never stop cursing. One night, Dr. Berman was supposed to be on guard duty with Satan, watching the ammunition tent. Dr. Berman guarded the tent, and finally toward the end of the shift Satan arrived. After that, Satan was the quietest man around. A few days later Satan explained why he had not cursed in such a long time. The night he had been on duty, he had gotten lost in the darkness. The next day, when he re-traced his footsteps from the night before, he realized that he had almost walked off a cliff, which would have killed him. From this incident, Satan repented and entered a Yeshiva for Baalei Teshuva.

Satan, the worst person in the unit, realized that Hashem had saved him, and that he should leave the Derech he was on at the time. Therefore, he felt that it was only proper to repent and thank Hashem. We should not wait until Hashem sends us this message to go on the right Derech. One should not sin expecting a Korban to atone for his sin. He must truly internalize the offering of the Korban and understand that it might have been him on the Mizbeach. This is similar to Kaparot before Yom Kippur: We wave the chicken over our head, and the chicken is subsequently slaughtered. After one offers the Korban and witnesses the entire process, he understands how awful his transgression was and how kind Hashem is by saving him.

The following story describes how a person faced with a horrible crisis repents and follows the word of Hashem correctly only after he realizes the crisis:

Once a very wealthy man came to the Baal Shem Tov. He told the Baal Shem Toy that he had only come to visit but did not need a Beracha because he had everything he needed. The Baal Shem Tov told him the following story:

There were once two friends who were as close as brothers. When it was time for them to marry, they went to separate towns but promised to always keep in touch. Both were very prosperous, and slowly their correspondence began to wither away. When one suddenly became bankrupt he went to his friend for help, and his friend helped him generously. However, when the latter went bankrupt and came for help, the former did not give him a penny. He said he was could not lend out money because it was all invested and unavailable. When the two friends died, the poor man who gave half his money was sent to Gan Eden, while the rich friend who did not give a penny was sentenced to Gehenom. The one sent to Gan Eden said he would not go without his friend. The court decided to allow both to return to Olam Hazeh, the rich miser as a rich man, and the poor, generous man as a poor man. In his new life, the poor man tested the rich man, and the rich man still refused to give him money.

The Baal Shem Tov told the man in front of him that he was the rich man in the story. When the man heard this, he fell on his knees and begged the Baal Shem Tov to help him do Teshuva.

Only after the rich man in the story realized that he was in trouble did he repent. We should not allow ourselves to come to this level. We should put our beliefs into effect without the help of Hashem, because if Hashem has to help us, we will be punished. The Mesilat Yesharim quotes R. Pinchas ben Yair who says that one’s purpose on this earth is to achieve closeness to Hashem. To do so he must go through the following stages: watchfulness, zeal, cleanliness, separation, purity, saintliness, humility, fear of sin, and holiness. Of course it is easy to say this, but to actually put it into effect is much harder. The following story of Dr. Berman explains how fast closeness to Hashem can be achieved:

Once Dr. Berman’s unit had to travel through a minefield, where one step in the wrong direction could mean death, with the aid of a useless map. As the unit, which was hardly religious, walked through the minefield, the effect was amazing: soldiers who rarely wore Kipot put their Kipot on and prayed to Hashem to help them through the minefield. Unfortunately, the opposite effect occurred as they traveled out of the minefield.

Like the soldiers, we should use challenges like these to increase our level of Avodat Hashem. However, we must be careful not to revert to our former selves when the challenge is overcome. It is only through our increased Avodat Hashem that we were able to overcome the challenge, and only through continued Avodat Hashem will we overcome obstacles in the future.

Humility Leads To Honor
by Ami Friedman

Parshat Vayikra starts with the word Vayikra written with a small Alef. The word Vayikar means it happened by chance. The Baal Haturim writes that when Hashem called out to Bilam, the Pasuk says Vayikar, since he only deserved to be called by Hashem by chance. However, the voice that called out to Moshe was not by chance; it was the same voice that Bnai Yisrael could not tolerate listening to at Har Sinai. Therefore, Hashem allowed Moshe to write Vayikra, but Moshe was too modest to write it, so he wrote it with a small Alef. 

The Karla says that the extra ink that Moshe saved by writing a small Alef was divine radiance flowing from Moshe’s forehead as a reward for his modesty.

Rabbi Yaakov Menken says that Moshe’s action serves as a lesson for us. Just as Moshe tried to limit his honor, we should limit our honor. But the same way Moshe’s humility honored him, our humility should honor us. We believe that “He who runs away from honor, honor will chase him.”

Food for Thought
by David Gertler

1) Which Korbanot need salt? Which do not? Why is this contrary to what we would have thought? What’s the reason for the peculiarity?
2) Why does the Torah use the term Adam in the context of the Korban Ola and the Korban Oleh Veyoreid and use the word Nefesh for all other Korbanot? Consider Rashi s.v. Adam on 1:2, who says that just like Adam Harishon brought a Korban that was not from stolen goods, Bnai Yisrael, too, should not bring a Korban from stolen goods. Also consider the inconsistency within the Pasuk that uses the word Adam for Korban Oleh Veyoreid.

If you have a response to these questions, please contact us at Responses may be published upon agreement of the provider.

Staff at time of publication:
Editors-in-Chief: Avi-Gil Chaitovsky, Dani Gross
Managing Editor: Moshe Glasser
Publication Editor & Webmaster: Daniel Wenger
Business Manager: Ilan Tokayer
Staff: Josh Dubin, Zev Feigenbaum, Shuky Gross, Michael Humphrey, Yair Manas, Uriel Schechter
Consultant: David Gertler
Faculty Advisor: Rabbi Howard Jachter

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