This issue is sponsored l'iluy Nishmos
Vol. 23 No. 25
R' Yosef ben Yitzchakand Faiga z"l
and Rachel bas Zev and Chana Aidel z"l
The Four Lessons
(Adapted from Rabeinu Bachye)
"Command Aharon and his sons saying 'This is the law of the Olah, that is the Olah that burns on the Mizbe'ach all night, and the fire of the Mizbe'ach shall burn it" (6:2).
Rabeinu Bachye lists four important lessons that we can learn from the opening Pesukim of the Parshah; 1). To stress the importance of the Olah over and above all other Korbanos; 2). To teach us the obligation to subordinate oneself before One's Creator; 3). To highlight the great miracle that occurred daily on the Mizbe'ach; and 4). To convey the message that the Resha'im burn in the fires of Gehinom.
Let us deal first with the second lesson -
'The obligation to subordinate oneself before One's Creator' -
The Torah here is recording the first Avodah that the Kohanim performed in the Mishkan each day - the shovelful of ashes that they took from the Mizbe'ach, and which they subsequently transported to a location outside the Camp. This was acknowledged as the most degrading of rituals, and even required the Kohanim to wear a cheaper set of Bigdei Kehunah than the other Avodos. Yet it is an Avodah, and a Kohen was obligated to perform it each day. This teaches us, R. Bachye explains, the extent to which we are required to subordinate ourselves before the King of Kings when performing a Mitzvah, and when Davening or serving Hashem in any other way. And it brings to mind David ha'Melech, who, when bringing the Aron to its temporary destination, danced wildly before it, in complete disregard of the dignity that one would otherwise have expected of a king, as his wife Michal commented, and Raban Gamliel and the other Tana'im who juggled and performed dancing feats during the joyous festivities of the Simchas Beis ha'Sho'evah on Succos. Because when in the service of one's Creator, one's own dignity shrinks to the point of insignificance in the face of His.
'The great miracle that occurred daily on the Mizbe'ach' -
The Torah writes that "the fire shall burn on the Mizbe'ach", to highlight one of the many ongoing miracles that occurred in the Mishkan and later, in the Beis-ha'Mikdash - namely, although the copper top of the Mizbe'ach was no thicker that a Dinar (coin), the fire that burned on it constantly for the entire forty years that Yisrael traveled in the desert, did not burn a hole in it.
'The Resha'im burn in the fires of Gehinom' - This R. Bachye derives from the third time the Torah writes "And the fire on the Mizbe'ach shall burn on it", a hint that the wicked, who reject the Atonement of the Mizbe'ach, will have to suffer in the fire of Gehinom. We live in a world which offers us not as much as a glimpse of the World to Come, neither Gan Eden nor Gehinom. What's more, the Soton, in his efforts to lead us to sin, drives all thoughts of reward and punishment from our minds. The above reminder therefore, is an act of kindness, that enables us to counter the Soton's plans and stop us from sinning.
'The importance of the Olah over and above all other Korbanos' -
It is certainly greater than the various sin-offerings, inasmuch as, unlike them, which atone for a variety of sinful acts, it atones for mere bad thoughts (as we find in Iyov (1:5), thereby placing it on a more refined plane than them. But it is also greater than a Shelamim, which is purely a gift to Hakadosh-Baruch-Hu, in that it goes on the Mizbe'ach in the form of a gift to Him without any human participation.
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The Poor Man's Gift
The fact that the Minchah, both in Parshas Vayikra and in Parshas Tzav, appears after the Olah, signifies, that, like the Olah, it falls under the category of 'Kodesh Kodshim', which explains why it can only be eaten by male Kohanim. At first glance, bearing in mind its meagre content, this may seem strange.
The Abarbanel however, explains this phenomenon based on Chazal, who describe the Minchah as the poor man's Korban, in view of the fact that he lacks the means to bring an animal. Indeed, they attribute the term "Nefesh" that the Torah uses exclusively by a Minchah to the fact that a poor man brings, not just a Korban, but his very Soul (See Rashi, 2:1). The Korban of a rich man is a sacrifice; that of a poor man is a self-sacrifice!
In that case, Abarbanel explains, a Minchah falls under the heading of Kodesh Kodshim, not in spite of its meagre content, but rather because of it. It is a mark of appreciation on the part of Hashem, as it were, for the self-sacrifice of the poor man, who is giving Him part of himself in His honour.
Applying this concept to the realm of Tzedakah, one can conclude that the P'rutah that a poor man gives as Tzedakah is more precious in the Eyes of Hashem than the large donation of the rich man.
The G'ro in Even Sh'leimah (3:11, and footnote) goes one step further. He points out that whereas, by and large, the poor man has no problem in fulfilling the Mitzvah of Tzedakah, the rich man does. The latter often points to the large sums that he donates to various institutions, What he does not realize is that, although relatively, he has given a lot of Tzedakah, he has not given sufficient according to his means. For example, a successful businessman might donate a total of a thousand dollars, but if he earns in the region of a hundred thousand dollars a month, he will have fallen far short of what the Halachah requires him to give.
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The Four Parshiyos
Parshas Shekalim is read either on Rosh Chodesh Adar (in the event that Rosh Chodesh falls on Shabbos) or on the Shabbos prior to Rosh Chodesh (should it fall in the middle of the week)..
Parshas Zochor is read on the Shabbos prior to Purim.
Parshas Poroh is read on the Shabbos before Parshas ha'Chodesh.
Parshas ha'Chodesh is read either on Rosh Chodesh Nissan (in the event that Rosh Chodesh falls on Shabbos) or on the Shabbos before Rosh Chodesh (should it fall in the middle of the week).
There is always at least one hafsakah (break) in the four Parshiyos. When Rosh Chodesh Adar falls on Friday (such as this year), there are two Hafsakos.
The 'siman' (means of remembering) the Hafsakos is as follows:
2:6 - If Rosh Chodesh Adar falls on Monday, then the following Shabbos - the 6th Adar will be a Hafsakah.
4:4 - Should Rosh Chodesh Adar fall on Wednesday, the Hafsakah will be on following Shabbos - the fourth of Adar.
6:2, 16 - If Rosh Chodesh Adar falls on Friday, then there are two Hafsakos, the first one, the following day, the second of Adar, the second, the Shabbos af-ter Purim, on the sixteenth of Adar.
7:15 - Should Rosh Chodesh Adar fall on Shabbos, there is no Hafsakah be-fore Purim, only on the fifteenth of Adar.
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This issue is sponsored
li"n R' Shlomo ben R' Yaakov Prenzlau z"l
whose fifteenth Yohrzeit was on 13th Adar
by his children Dr. Eli and Sheryl Prenzlau n"y and family
Yom Kipur - Not A Patch on Poorim
This is a famous description of - Poorim - a play on the words 'Yom Kipurim' (Yom ke'Purim - a day like Purim, but not quite on the same level), indicating that Purim is greater than Yom Kipur. What it obviously means is that one can reach greater spiritual heights on Purim than one can on Yom Kipur.
Here are four possible ways of explaining this stunning contention.
1). Because it is easier to serve G-d by fasting (why else would one fast anyway) than by feasting. For the very same reason Chazal consider someone who eats on Erev Yom Kipur as if he had fasted two days - on the ninth and the tenth of Tishri - since to eat for the sake of a Mitzvah is that much more difficult than to fast for the sake of a Mitzvah.
2). The Gemara in Megilah (12b) strikes a contrast between The Jews and the gentiles. When the latter sit down to feast, What do they do? They begin to indulge in frivolous, immoral chatter. At Achashverosh's party, the Persians claimed that Persian women were the most beautiful, whilst the Medes insisted that they could not match the Medians. 'Oh no', the king joined the discussion. 'My wife is neither a Persian nor a Mede. She is Babylonian - the granddaughter of Nevachednetzar, and she is the most beautiful woman in the world! And to prove his point, he ordered her to appear before the guests to show the people her beauty.
But when Jews sit down to feast, they sing songs of praise and speak words of Torah.
And this distinction also explains why a gentile can bring an Olah sacrifice (which is entirely burnt), but not a Shelamim (the bulk of which is eaten by the owner). Because he is incapable of bringing G-d a Korban and partaking of it at one and the same time. A Jew on the other hand, understands that his purpose in this world is to sanctify the mundane; so his eating becomes an act of sanctity. And that is the essence of Purim.
3. In similar vein, it is one thing to reach the highest levels when one is sober, It is another to become intoxicated and to retain one's self-control and to still serve G-d with even greater zeal - to speak Divrei Torah and to sing songs of praise even in such a state. Indeed, that is why Chazal instituted the Mitzvah of becoming intoxicated on Purim - to demonstrate a Jew's ability of doing just that. Again with reference to the difference to a Jew and a gentile - whereas a gentile loses control of himself even when he is still sober, a Jew is able to reach the highest levels even when he is drunk.
Someone who cannot take strong drink, should drink a little and sleep. About such a person too, one can say that, as opposed to a gentile, he loses control of himself in a controlled manner, in the service of Hashem and in a way that does no harm.
4). It is true that on Yom Kipur, one can reach great heights in Avodas Hashem, particularly as everything that one does is an act of Avodas Hashem. The only thing that is missing is the element of Simchah. One's Soul may well revel in its closeness to Hashem, but as far as the body is concerned, Chazal teach us that there can be no Simchah without meat and wine - and certainly not without food. Reaching the highest levels of serving G-d with Simchah is something that one can do on Purim, where actively rejoicing is an integral part of the proceedings.
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The Last Years of Galus Bavel
Based mainly on the Sifsei Chachamim on Maseches Megilah
3338 Nevuchadnezar, King of Bavel, destroys the first Beis Hamikdash
3363 Nevuchadnetzar dies. Evyl Merodach (father of Beltshatzar and Vashti) ascends the throne of Bavel.
3386 Evyl Merodach dies. His son Beltshatzar, succeeds him as King of Bavel.
3389 Beltshatzar arranges a banquet, during which he uses the captured vessels of the Beis-ha'Mikdash. 'The writing on the wall' heralds his murder on the very same night. End of Babylonian era. Malchus Paras & Madai begins.
3390 Koresh the 1st, King of Persia, gives permission to rebuild the second Beis-ha'Mikdash
3395 Achashverosh ascends the throne of Persia and rules over 127 countries. Encouraged by both Queen Vashti and Haman, he halts the building of the Beis-ha'Mikdash.
3398 Achashverosh arranges a grand banquet during which he kills his wife Vashti (sister of Beltshatzar, former king of Bavel).
3399 Esther is taken to the palace. A year later, she is crowned queen.
3400 Bigsan and Teresh plot to kill the king. Mordechai discovers the plot and the two are killed.
3404 Haman rises to power and is granted use of the king's signet ring. On 13th Nissan he sends out letters with a death-warrant against the Jewish nation on the following 13th Adar, 3405. Esther calls for a three day fast on the 14th, 15th and 16th of Nissan. Haman is hung on the 16th, the second day of Pesach.
3405 On the 13th of Adar the Jews defend themselves from their enemies and kill thousands of Amaleikim. They rest on the 14th, although the city of Shushan continues the battle and only rests on the 15th.
3406 Darius 2nd, son of Achashveirosh and Esther, takes over the throne.
3408 Darius grants the Jews permission to resume rebuilding the Beis Hamikdash. The seventy years of Galus Bavel come to an end. Many of the exiles return to Eretz Yisrael, under the leadership of Zerubavel (alias Nechemyah), grandson of King Yechonyah.
3412 The building of the second Beis Hamikdash is completed
3413 Ezra ha'Sofer moves to Eretz Yisrael, following the death of his Rebbe, Baruch ben Neri'ah.
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