This week we begin the third and arguably the most difficult Sefer of the Torah. In the account of creation, the word light is written five times, corresponding to the Five Books of Moshe. The Midrash writes that “G-d said Let there be light” corresponds to the Book of Bereshis, in which Hashem busied Himself with creating the world. “And there was light” corresponds to the Book of Shemos, in which Hashem took the Jewish people from darkness to light. “Hashem saw the light was good.” corresponds to the Book of Vayikra, which is filled with many laws. “Hashem separated the light from the darkness”, corresponds to the Book of Bamidbar, which separates between those who left Egypt and those who entered the land. “Hashem called the light day” corresponds to the Book of Devarim, which made clear as day the many laws it reviewed.
(1:1) Vayikra el Moshe Vayidabaer Hashem Aylav-He called to Moshe and Hashem spoke to him.” Why does the Torah begin with “He spoke to Moshe”? It should have said “Hashem called Moshe and He spoke to him.”Why is the caller anonymous?
The omission of Hashem as the subject at the beginning of the verse is most remarkable. The Tzror Hamor writes that the calling was the highest attribute of Hashem and is basically beyond definition in human terms. This being the first communication between man and G-d after the establishment of the Mishkon, the dwelling place of the Shechina in this physical world, it was a calling that could have been received by all of Israel. Instead only Moshe heard it. Even if someone was standing along side of him, only Moshe heard the voice. The Torah thus draws our attention to the supernatural element in this call.
But perhaps we can say the following. Sefer Vayikra which is mostly about the Temple sacrifices, is the middle Sefer. It connects the first half of the Torah (Bereishis, Shemos) with the second half (Bamidbar,
Devarim). As such it details how to come closer to the creator of everything. This was the mission of Moshe Rabeinu. In essence then, the verse begins “Vayikra el Moshe-meaning this Sefer Vayikra is el Moshe given over to Moshe.
This, the third Sefer in the Torah, begins with the word Vayikra-Calling. Rashi says that really every time Hashem would communicate with Moshe it was always preceded by a calling. Why then would it be singled out here? The Ramban writes that after reading how the presence of Hashem filled the Mishkon at the end of Sefer Shemos, and Moshe was no longer able to speak with Hashem at will, it became necessary to mention that Hashem called Moshe before speaking with him.
The first word in Sefer Vayikra contains a small Aleph in it. Rashi says it is a term of endearment. The letter Aleph equals one and represents Hashem. When spelled out Aleph Lamed Phey, it equals 111 which happens to be the amount of verses in this weeks Parsha. This hints to the importance of the reduced Aleph. After Klal Yisroel reached the tremendous closeness to Hashem at Mount Sinai the sin of the Golden Calf was a devastating blow. It lowered them to a level that we might have thought impossible to return from. Here at the beginning of Sefer Vayikra Hashem is giving Klal Yisroel the means to return back to that former closeness. But it cannot be accomplished at once. There has to be a gradual ascent to the lofty level they once attained. By using a small Aleph Hashem is saying that He is making Himself attainable to them. The Aleph also stands for Ohr. They could not have handled the same Ohr they experienced before. But the small Aleph shows Hashem’s love by demonstrating His willingness to work with us, to help bring us back again to the closeness we once had.
As mentioned the first word in Sefer Vayikra contains a small Aleph in it. Had that letter been omitted it would have spelled the word Vayikor.
This word has two connotations, one is from the word Kereh meaning chance meeting, the second is Keri a form of Tumah. Moshe being a tremendously humble didn't want to use the Aleph in the word Vayikra and asked to have it written without the Aleph meaning it was a chance calling. Hashem told him he must include the Aleph. To compromise Moshe made it small.
The question is, there are two other places where Hashem called Moshe with this word. By the Sneh (Shemos 3:4) “Vayikra Aylav Elokim Mitoch Hasneh-Hashem called him from within the bush.” And once again at Har Sinai. (Shemos 19:20) “Vayikra Hashem L’Moshe El-Rosh Ha’Har-Hashem called to Moshe at the top of the mountain.” Why is there no mention of a small Aleph there? One answer given is that our Parsha took place after Moshe was commanded to make the second Luchos. Hashem showed him a quarry of sapphire beneath his tent and told him to chisel out the second tablets from there. He was permitted to keep the excess sapphire which made him greatly wealthy. Therefore we can now learn humbleness from him. For a person without wealth has no problem being humble.
Perhaps we can also suggest that the first calling was for the purpose of bringing Moshe to his destiny, to his life’s mission of leading Klal Yisroel out of Egypt. And the second was in order to receive the Torah. Both of these cases required his rising to the greatness that the situation demanded. Both cases were that of Hashem speaking through fire from an other worldly dimension. In our Parsha we find the first case of Hashem calling to Moshe after the Mishkon was completed. It was from the place that the Shechina rested on this earth. Here was to begin the teaching to Klal Yisroel, how to come close to Hashem through the Korbonos. The word Korbon comes from the root
place that this lesson can be effective. A Korban has the ability to humble its owner. The owner of the sacrifice must view the animal being brought as if it were he himself being brought. Moshe already was the most humble person who ever lived. The lesson was not intended for him. For him the writing of the word Vayikra with the small Aleph, at this point, would only serve to teach Klal Yisroel this lesson.
Another understanding of the small Aleph is in the connection between Purim and Pesach. We know that this Parsha is usually read between these two holidays and the reason we celebrate Purim in the second month of Adar of a leap year is to connect the two Ge’ulahs. In the Megillah we read that Klal Yisroel confirmed what was previously undertaken. They re-accepted the Torah. But that was not enough. They also understood through the miracles that happened on Purim through Tevah, that this is how Hashem worked for them all along. From the very start of the Exodus story Hashem manipulated the events. When Pharoh said let us make a final solution regarding the Jews everything he attempted was turned around to have the opposite effect. He wanted to prevent the Jews from increasing in numbers by instituting harsh labor and instead the harder they worked the more they increased. When he was informed that the savior of Israel was to be born that day he ordered all babies o be drowned, even the Egyptians. But what was the result? Moshe’s mother placed him in a basket and placed him in the Nile River where he was adopted by Pharaoh’s very own daughter therefore becoming his grandson. What better place to groom the greatest leader of Klal Yisroel than in the house of the greatest leader of the world at that time?
Just as in the story of Purim all of the events against Klal Yisroel were turned into their salvation. The events of Pesach were also Divinely orchestrated. This is the lesson that must be learned between Purim and Pesach and this is why there is a small Aleph in the word Korav to bring close. The word Aleph means to teach. Its small size implies that in order to effectively teach, one must first learn to be humble. Here is the first
Vayikra. The word Vayikra with a small aleph can be read as V’yikor meaning a chance encounter. But we learn from Purim that there is no such thing as a chance encounter. Even when it looks as though Hashem is not there the small Aleph testifies that He is there whether or not it is obvious.
The Parsha begins with Hashem telling Moshe about Korbonos-Sacrifices. The Torah writes (1:2) “Odom Ki Yakriv Mikem-When a man among you brings an offering to Hashem.” When an offering is brought to atone for a sin it must be from his own possessions. The person bringing the Korbon must also know for what sin he is bringing the Korbon. What if he doesn't know that he committed the sin? How can he atone for it? He may atone by understanding how Hashem operates in this world. When something bad happens to a person it is for a reason. Sometimes its a warning to a person that he needs to make a change in his life. If he bites his tongue maybe he has spoken Loshen Hora. Or if he bangs his foot maybe he was running towards doing an Avera. But Hashem warns a person in the very same thing that the person sins (Mida Keneged Meda). Thats why the Posuk uses the word “Mekem” the letters of which stand for Mida Keneged Meda.
(1:2) “Adom Ki Yakriv Mikem-When a man brings a Korban from among you” Rashi says that this verse teaches us that a person bringing a Korban must not bring from stolen property. The word Adom is used to teach us that just like Adom, to whom everything belonged, did not bring stolen animals for a sacrifice, so too we must not bring from stolen property. However the Gemarrah (30a) learns this from the word Mikem that it must be “from your own property” why does Rashi learn from Adom?
Rashi wants to add another dimensio
minds of people. They create the false impression that they are not ordinary sinners. Rashi addresses this type of behavior by learning from Adam. Just like Adom, who brought a sacrifice at a time when there were no other people in the world whom he had to impress, so too our deeds should be sincere without any ulterior motives.
The Kli Yakar writes that when a ram was brought they included both of its horns. This represents the rebellion of sin against man and against G-d. When Adom brought the first sacrifice he brought a unicorn because the only sin there could be was against Hashem.
The Oznayim L'Torah writes that the use of the word Adom/Man teaches us that when a person brings a sacrifice there is always more than the individual involved. All of mankind has a share in it.
The Shelah asks how can we use Adom as an example? It was not a case of someone overcoming his desire and refraining from stealing. It was not possible for Adom to steal, there was no one to steal from! Instead he explains that Adom himself was the korbon.
Hashem created man at the end of creation. He was the pinnacle of creation that had the ability to connect the spiritual and physical worlds. There are three aspects to every part of creation. Olam, Shana and Nefesh. Olam means the physical world. Shana means time and Nefesh is the spirituality of everything. Adom had all three. He was the embodiment of all the future souls, he was in the perfect place, Gan Eden and time was his as well since he was meant to live forever. All of this was lost after the original sin. Each of these three are found in the Hebrew word for smoke (Oshon) . Ayin for Olam, Shin for Shonna, and Nune for Neshama.
That level of perfection was regained at Matan Torah where the Torah writes that the mountain was smoking (Oshon) but was lost again after the Chet H’eigel. And again it was partially regained when the Mishkon stood. The Mishkon was the place in the world, the Korbonos were n to this lesson of not stealing. There are people who commit sins and immediately run to bring a Korban so they will appear to be pious. By doing so they are stealing the
brought at specific times and Aharon was the embodiment of the Neshamas of Klal Yisroel.
The smoke from the Korbonos would rise straight up to the heavens. No wind could disperse it. Of the three aspects to every part of creation. Olam, Shana and Nefesh, we are directed to inject Kedusha into each of them. The entire area of Korbonos relates to "Dimyon"(fantasy). Man was created with two Neshamas. One that Hashem blew into man, the higher more elevated soul and the other is called "Nefesh Habahamas" the basic life force, the animal instinct. The Seforim say that this Nefesh is found in the blood (Dam). The word Dimyon comes from the word Dam. The purpose of man is to take his Aleph which represents intellect and rule over the "Dam". Aleph and Daled-Mem equals "Adam" (man). When man commits a sin he is leaving his intellect and following his Dimyon or fantasy. A person can rationalize a sin by using a fantasy to justify his action. So when we slaughter an animal we are atoning for the fact that we let our base tendencies rule. This could be why the main part of the Korbon is the sprinkling of the "blood".
(1:7) V’nosnu B’nei Aharon Hakohen Aish-The sons of Aharon the Kohein shall place the fire.” The word “V’nosnu” is a palindrome, it is read the same way backwards and forward. Regarding the giving of charity it is said that what you give comes back to you. Here perhaps we can apply the same principal. The fire that the sons of Aharon brought was not necessary for the fire came from above. But what was given was also returned in the form of atonement.
(1:9) “Eishe Raiach Nechoach L’Hashem-A fire offering, a satisfying aroma to Hashem.” This idea of satisfying aroma is given additional meaning by R. Eliezer Askenazi. He says that when the Torah uses this expression, it is not to have us appreciate the great value of the sacrifice, on the contrary, it is to have us appreciate its inadequacy. Since the person bringing the offering might think that his sin is pardoned, the
Torah informs him that this is not so. This sacrifice is only a satisfying aroma, a hint of what that person could do in the future. A pleasing aroma from afar hints at the existence of an object that is even better than its aroma. So too the sacrifice is an indication of the Maasim Tovim to come. Therefore the word Aroma is used to designate something whose approach is felt before it is actually present. The Korban is merely giving evidence of what he intends to do.
Rashi explains based on a Midrash that Hashem has Nachas Ruach from the fact that His word was spoken and his children comply. The question is if that is the case why is this term only mentioned here and only in regard to certain sacrifices? Every Mitzvah performed is a case of “His word spoken and his children complying.” Why are these sacrifices singled out?
If we look at the first mention of a concept in the Torah we can glean a better understanding of its root. At the end of Parshas Noach we find the first mention of a “satisfying aroma.” After the flood, when Noach emerged from the ark, he brought a sacrifice which was totally consumed. Perhaps we could suggest that this phrase is used only in a case where there is no gain for the one performing the sacrifice. Every subsequent mention of a “satisfying aroma” is either by a Korban Olah or Mincha each of which is totally consumed. The owner has no share in the sacrifice. Giving of themselves with nothing in return is the ultimate expression of sacrifice.
However there are several discrepancies with regard to how this phrase is expressed. Of the 33 times it appears in the Torah it is spelled with a “Vav” in the word “Nichoach” only 3 times. The other times it appears without the “Vav”. But in the first mention of this “satisfying aroma” in the Torah, the root of this concept, we see a unique spelling, different than in every other incident. There it uses the letter “Hey” as the definite article in front of the word Nichoach (Reach Ha'Nichoach)
which has a total numerical value of 307 with the letters, which is the same as the amount of words in the chapter of the ultimate sacrifice, the ultimate giving of one's self – The Akeidah.
(1:9) The Ramban in his explanation of the Korbonos quotes from Tehillem (50) the first Posuk “The Almighty, Hashem, G-d spoke and called the earth from the rising of the sun to its setting.” The Ramaban mentions “The complete Name on a complete world.” R’Wolbe explains the meaning behind the Ramban’s words. Korbonos are a means to create a complete world which thereby allows the complete Name of Hashem to rest upon it. They bridge the huge divide that separates the body and the soul, between the physical and the Creator. When an animal is consecrated it he has taken the basest creature and transformed it into something appropriate to be offered to the Creator himself. The offerings were brought to the Mishkon. The place where physical was transformed into spiritual, and therefore the Mishkon was deemed a complete world. It was there that the complete Name resided.
(2:13) “V’chol Korban Minchascha B’melech Timloch-You shall salt your every meal offering.” Salt preserves food and sacrifices preserve the world. The Ramban writes that salt has two properties: It is destructive, for it prevents plants from growing; and it is helpful, for it preserves food. The Covenant of Salt teaches that the sacrificial service, if performed properly and sincerely, preserves Israel, but if the service is neglected, it brings about destruction and exile.
(3:1) “Im Zochar Im Nekeiva Tomim Yakrivenu- Whether male or female - unblemished shall he offer it.” The only sacrifice that has the option of both male and female offerings is the Shelamim. The word Shelamim means whole, it brings peace to the world. In order for something to be whole it must contain two opposites, male and female. By bringing this sacrifice we bring two opposites together.
The Ramban writes That the Shelamim is called “whole” because it
was not motivated by sin, but rather by a desire to reach perfection.
According to the Korban Aharon the peace expressed by the Korban Shelamim is the harmony between the Heavenly world of spirit and the earthly world of materialism. One who brings a Shelamim seeks to unite the two worlds. Panim Yafos comments that unlike the Olah offering that represents man’s yearning to be united with Hashem, because the entire offering is burnt on the Altar, the Shelamim serves two purposes. Part goes to Hashem and part goes to the Kohanim and the owner. This symbolizes Hashem’s yearning to unite with us.
The Korbonos were only permitted in the Beis Hamikdosh. It was strictly forbidden any other place. Why? Because the temple in Jerusalem was spiritually connected to Hashem more than any other place. It remains the place where heaven and earth kiss. Since the Temple site was so firmly connected to Hashem the laws of nature were less applicable. The Gemara says there were ten miracles that were visible daily there. When Benei Yisroel came to Jerusalem there was enough room for everyone. This was only possible because the temple area was detached from this physical earth more than any other place. Therefore a Korbon that was offered in this chosen place had the ability to elevate a person who had committed a sin. The reason an animal can accomplish this is because a persons possessions are spiritually connected to his soul. The reason that the wife, child and salves of a Kohen are permitted to eat Trumah is because they are part of his soul and all of a persons possessions are connected to his soul. Therefore when you bring a Korbon your bringing a part of your soul closer to Hashem through this bridge the Beis Hamikdosh.
(4:2) "Nefesh Ki Secheteh-If a soul sins." Why here is the sinner referred to as "Nefesh" while at the start we read Adom Ki Yakriv? The Oznayim L'Torah writes that this verse is discussing unintentional sins. It is the impossible to tell by observing the body whether the sin was
intentional or not. Therefore whenever the Torah speaks of intent it speaks in terms of the soul. The Tzor Hamor writes that sin originates from the body of man, Adomoh but without the soul it is just an inanimate object. There are always two partners to the sin. Neither one would be able to sin without the other. The soul would not be drawn to sin were it not for the earthly desires of the physical body. While the body would never think of sin without the desires of the soul. By combining the two we have the possibility to sin. We began Sefer Vayikra speaking of the physical body Adom. We then move on to the higher plane where the thought brings on the action.
(5:17) "Im Nefesh Ki Sechtoh V'asisah Achas M'kol-Mitzvos Hashem Asher Lo Seiasenah-And if anyone sin, and do any of the commands which Hashem commanded not to be done." This verse seems to be redundant? If someone sins, he IS doing something that Hashem did not command? Why the repetition? What the verse means to convey is that when a person does a Mitzvah without the proper intent, he is committing a sin by doing one of the commandments not the way Hashem wants it done.
(5:21) “Nefesh Ki Secheteh-When a soul commits a sin.” By accusing someone wrongfully the soul loses some of its spiritual light. This phrase reflects that loss sustained by the soul. Every soul depends on continuous spiritual input from celestial forces called Shefa Nishmasa, in order to sustain itself spiritually inside the body. The only soul which does not enjoy this continuous spiritual input is one whose Nefesh has become guilty of criminal sins which results in it’s being cut off. (Ohr H’Chaim)