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by Zvi Akiva Fleisher

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Ch. 1, v. 2: "Odom ki yakriv mi'kem korbon laShem" - The Medrash Shochar Tov

says that our verse is the fulfillment of "yomov k'tzeil oveir" (T'hilim 144:4). The Karnei R'eim and Rabbi Chaim Brisker explains this with the gemara N'dorim 10a-b that says that when a person consecrates an animal as a sacrifice he should not say "For Hashem this is a sacrifice," but rather, "This is a sacrifice for Hashem." Since a person never knows when he will die, perhaps after saying "For Hashem" he will die before he gets the words "this is a sacrifice" out of his mouth, and he will have uttered Hashem's name in vain. Therefore he should rather say "korbon laShem," thus being assured that he will not say Hashem's name in vain. This is the fulfillment of the verse that states that our days are like a passing shadow, i.e. a person is never sure when he will die.

Ch. 1, v.2: "Korbon laShem min hab'heimoh min habokor u'min hatzone" - Our verse introduces us to the concept of a person's finding favour in the eyes of Hashem by donating animal sacrifices. Starting with chapter 4 the Torah introduces mandatory sacrifices that serve as an atonement for unintentionally sinning. Sacrifices do not serve as an atonement for intentional sin. An insight into this may be that an animal which serves as a quasi-proxy for the sinning person, i.e. the procedures done to the sacrifice are to be imagined in the mind of the sinner as if they were done to him, can only atone for the unintentional, as an animal never premeditatedly does something knowingly wrong, as even the most bestial act perpetrated by an animal is only a result of instinct and not a valuation decision between morally right and wrong. Therefore the offering of an animal sacrifice cannot afford atonement for an intentional sin.

Rashi (Toras Kohanim 1:17) in our verse on the three words MIN and on the added letter Vov to the last MIN derives that not all of these animals are accepted as a sacrifice, as the word MIN connotes limitation. Excluded from being accepted as a sacrifice are animals that have:

1) been involved in bestiality

2) been served to as a deity

3) been set aside as an offering to a false god

4) gored a person to death

Please note that there are numerous other disqualifying matters, but they are because of other technicalities, such as age, wholesomeness, etc., factors that make them unbefitting to offer to Hashem. The ones listed in Rashi are disqualified because of a spiritual flaw. Since, as mentioned above, animals do not differentiate between right and wrong, but rather act on their natural instinct, why do these acts spiritually blemish an animal? If a sin committed with an animal renders it unfit as a sacrifice, why not also include an animal that was used to do work on Shabbos, to plow during the "shmitoh" year, etc.?

Perhaps this can be explained by noting that the list of sins has a common denominator. The sins listed in Rashi are actually the three cardinal sins to which the rule of "yeiho'reig v'al yaavor." Bestiality is in the realm of adultery, an animal being offered as a sacrifice to a false god is idol worship, and an animal that gored a person to death is in the realm of murder. If one is given the choice to do one of these three cardinal sins but could avoid sinning by giving up his life, he should rather give up his life than transgress the sin. Since if a person is threatened to do these sins under duress, why indeed should he give up his life? It seems that the intensity of damage that the sin engenders is so great that it outweighs the value of a person's life, which in all other circumstances would outweigh any other sin. We find regarding the three cardinal sins that even if they are done unintentionally, they carry with them a great intensity of damage. The sin of adultery with a married woman, paralleling bestiality, even if done against the woman's will, totally beyond her control, renders her unfit to continue being married to her husband if he is a Kohein. Regarding belief in a false god, it is well known that even if a person is not to be faulted for this belief, for example if he was brought up and educated in an environment that taught him other than Torah-true values, he nevertheless is lacking belief in one of the 13 basic tenets of our faith, the belief in our one Hashem. This was very aptly expressed by Rabbi Yitzchok Zev Soloveitchik, "A 'nebech' apikoris is still an apikoris." Similarly with murder, the main aspect of this sin differs from most others, as its intensity is not in the main because of transgressing Hashem's command to not kill, but rather by virtue of the devastating act of taking someone's life. There are indications in the gemara Sanhedrin that the death penalty for killing is likewise because of the devastation of taking of someone's life, and not solely for transgressing the sin of murder. We find this so far reaching that even if one only sends an agent to do something for him and on the trip the agent was killed, the sender requires atonement, again not because of any aspect of the sin of murder, but rather because of being even slightly instrumental in bringing about someone's death.

We can now gain an understanding into why these three cardinal sins negatively affect even an animal, as even without intention they are so profoundly blemishing, thus they even flaw an animal.

Ch. 1, v. 5: "V'shochat" - The Holy Zohar on parshas Nosso page 124a writes that "v'shochat" of our verse specifically refers to someone who is not a Kohein, because a Kohein is prohibited from being the one who slaughters the sacrifice. This is most puzzling. Although the gemara Yoma 27a says that only from the receiving of the blood into a pan and onwards of the processing of the sacrifices blood requires a Kohein, nevertheless, a Kohein is not worse than a Yisroel who may do the slaughtering. Why then should there be a restriction on the Kohein?

Rabbi B'tzal'eil haKohein of Vilna answers that the intention of the Holy Zohar is to prohibit a Kohein while dressed in his priestly regalia to slaughter. It is quite correct to say a Kohein is prohibited, meaning one dressed in priestly vestments, as the gemara Z'vochim 17b says that when the Kohanim wear their priestly garments they have the status of a Kohein for Mikdosh service, and when not wearing those garments they are considered non-Kohanim. Since the apparel of a Kohein includes a garment that has shaatnez in it, and is only permitted to be worn to do the Mikdosh service, since the slaughtering of a sacrifice does not require a Kohein, he may not wear the priestly garments. It is not the intention of the Holy Zohar to prohibit a Kohein who is not wearing the priestly garments from slaughtering the sacrifice.

Ch. 1, v. 5: "V'hikrivu bnei Aharon haKohanim es hadom" - Rashi explains that these words refer to the service of walking the blood after it is received in a sanctified vessel, from the location of the slaughtering to the altar in preparation for placing the blood onto the altar in its prescribed manner. This walking requires a Kohein. The Rambam in hilchos p'su'lei hamukdoshim 1:22 says that bringing the blood close to the altar specifically requires having it walked there, i.e. and not by having a brigade of Kohanim standing in a line and one handing it to the next until it is next to the altar (my example). The Rambam adds that because of this ruling if a KOHEIN GODOL received the blood from the neck of the slaughtered sacrifice and stood in his place and threw the blood onto the altar, the sacrifice is invalid. This is most puzzling, as this rule applies to a Kohein Godol and a regular Kohein equally.

The Meshech Chochmoh answers this problem in a most novel way. We find in the Rambam's commentary on mishnayos Z'vochim that if a sacrifice was slaughtered right next to the altar and a Kohein received its blood in a pan and placed the blood onto the altar without walking, that it is valid. This is not contrary to the ruling mentioned above, because it is not intrinsically required to have the blood walked to the altar, only if it was distanced from the altar and normally would be brought close to allow for it to be placed onto the altar, this must be done by walking and no other way, as mentioned above. The Rambam in hilchos p'su'lei hamukdoshim is discussing having the blood a distance from the altar, and the Kohein threw it onto the altar without walking, where normally one would bring it closer. If so, how indeed did the Kohein get the blood onto the altar from a distance without walking? The Rambam gives an example of a LARGE KOHEIN, meaning that he had long limbs and stretched to bring the blood close to the altar and threw it after stretching, rather than walking closer, and this is invalid. KOHEIN GODOL in this context does not mean the "high priest," but rather a very tall Kohein.

Ch. 1, v. 14: "V'im min ho'ofe oloh korbono laShem" - The Ponim Yofos raises two questions on the way the Torah expresses itself regarding the processing of a bird "oloh" sacrifice as compared with a bovine or sheep "oloh" sacrifice. Our verse says that if one offers a bird "oloh" FOR HASHEM, while in the other two cases of bovine and sheep FOR HASHEM is left out (verses 3 and 10). Secondly in both the earlier sacrifices it mentions that "haKohanim," plural form, will process it (verses 5 and 11), while by the bird "oloh" it is expressed in the singular form, "haKohein" (verse 15). He answers both these questions by pointing out that although an "oloh" sacrifice is totally consumed n the altar, the hide of the sacrifice is given to the Kohanim who do the service that week. Hence the sacrifice is not totally for Hashem, so the word "laShem" is left out by the bovine and sheep sacrifice. Likewise haKohanim, in the plural form is used, as the hide is split among the Kohanim. However, by the bird "oloh" absolutely nothing is given to any Kohein, hence the sacrifice is totally laShem, and the only involvement is with the one Kohein who has the mitzvoh of processing it, hence the singular form.

Ch. 1, v. 15: "U'molak es rosho ...... v'nimtzoh domo al kir hamizbei'ach" - There is a visible horizontal line on the walls of the altar, called "chut hasikro," demarcating the upper and lower levels of the altar. The gemara Z'vochim 64b tells us that when animals are offered as sacrifices the blood of an "oloh" offering is thrown onto the lower part of the altar wall, and a "chatos" offering's blood is thrown onto the upper part of the altar wall above this line. When bird sacrifices are brought the opposite is true; the "oloh" offering's blood is squeezed onto the upper part of the wall, while the "chatos" offering's blood is squeezed onto the lower part of the wall. Why is everything reversed?

Rabbi Mayer Shapiro, Rosh Yeshivas Chachmei Lublin, answers that an animal offering is usually given by a well-to-do individual, while a bird offering is given by a poor person. When giving a sin atonement offering, a "chatos," a rich man who does so is to be greatly credited. Although it is incumbent upon him to do so to effect an atonement, he is not forced by any person or court to bring it. A wealthy man who is willing to publicly show that he has sinned is rewarded by having the blood of his sacrifice placed upon the upper area of the altar. When he offers a voluntary sacrifice, an "oloh," it is often given as an opportunity to show his wealth, giving a large animal as an offering. Therefore, its blood is not placed in as prominent a location, but rather below the "chut hasikro," on the lower part of the altar. A poor man who brings a bird sin-atonement offering is a person who because of his low financial status does not find it difficult to show that he has sinned, as he has a humble spirit as a rule. Since this comes relatively easy for him, the blood is placed below. When he donates a voluntary "oloh" sacrifice, albeit that it is a meager bird, nevertheless, it is quite a hardship for him to voluntarily donate it. He is recognized for his great act of giving even a bird as an offering by having its blood placed upon the more prominent upper area of the altar wall.



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