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by Zvi Akiva Fleisher

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Ch. 1, v. 2: "Min habokor umin hatzone" - From the cattle and from the sheep - Rashi (Toras Kohanim 1:16) says that we derive from the specific listing of bovines and sheep that undomesticated animals are excluded from being brought as sacrifices, even though in general we have the rule of "chayoh bichlal b'heimoh," - that undomesticated animals are included in the appellation "b'heimoh" (gemara B.K. 17b). Commentators say that the reason for animals of the wild being excluded is because they were not included in the blessing of "Va'y'vo'reich osom Elokim leimore pru urvu" (Breishis 1:22). The reason Hashem refrained from blessing the animals of the wild (see Breishis 1:25) is because the snake is included in this classification and Hashem did not want to give its species a blessing. Given all this information it would seem that fish, which were included in the above blessing, should be acceptable as sacrifices. The reason they are not accepted is that they are also excluded, as "bokor" and "tzone" also teach us that only a creature whose blood and "cheilev" fats are prohibited are accepted, but not fish, which have no such restriction. (Paa'nei'ach Rozo)

Ch. 1, v. 5: "V'shochat es ben habokor" - And he shall slaughter the young calf - The Ramban and others explain that when one offers a sacrifice brought as an atonement, he should have the imagery of the stages of the service being carried out on himself. This brings the sinner to repent and counteracts the evil inclination within him, which caused him to sin in the first place (Holy Zohar page 5a). This is alluded to in "V'shochat es ben habokor." And he shall slaughter the "ben habokor," whose numerical value is equal to that of "soton." (Rabbi Noach Mindes)

Ch. 1, v. 5: "V'hikrivu bnei Aharon haKohanim es hadom" - And the sons of Aharon the Kohanim shall bring the blood close - The gemara Z'vochim 35a derives from the Torah only mentioning Kohanim by the "holochoh" stage of the blood service, that the slaughtering of a sacrifice may be done by a non-Kohein, and only from the transportation of the blood towards the altar and onwards is it required to use Kohanim.

The gemara Brochos 31b relates that the following question arose in the days of Eili the Kohein Godol: Is it required to specifically have a Kohein to slaughter a sacrifice? Shmuel the prophet, while still a youngster, brought the above-stated proof from our verse that a Kohein is not required. How could this question arise at this juncture? The Mishkon was in use for 39 years in the desert and surely many a Yisroel slaughtered a sacrifice! In Vayikroh 17:3-5 the verses relate that when a person wants to have a bovine, sheep, or goat slaughtered he must bring it to the Mishkon to the Kohein. The Medrash Tanchuma explains that if a person in the desert wanted to eat meat he would have no choice but to bring it as a sacrifice. Simply put, there was no "chulin," secular meat, allowed in that era. Rabbi Zalman of Volozhin explains that the reason the Torah allowed for a non-Kohein to slaughter a sacrifice is because slaughtering of "secular animals" may be done by a non-Kohein, so this act is obviously not a sacrificial service. However, in the desert where only sanctified meat was allowed, we find no precedent of a non-Kohein's slaughtering "chulin." At that time slaughtering was still a sacrificial service and required a Kohen.

We can now understand why Eili was not able to clarify this question simply by being aware of non-Kohanim doing this act for numerous years earlier, as in the desert only Kohanim slaughtered. This all changed immediately upon the bnei Yisroel's entry into Eretz Yisroel, once "chulin" meat was permitted. However, since until this point non-Kohanim did not slaughter, even Eili was not aware of the halacha changing. (Taam Vodaas)

Ch. 1, v. 15: "Umolak" - And he shall pierce with his fingernail - This is a most unusual departure from the norm of slaughtering with a sharp blade. In a previous year the most powerful insight of the Chinuch was brought to explain this. The Chizkuni explains that since the slaughtering had to be done while the Kohein was on the altar, the Torah did not want him to bring a metal blade with him, as per the verse, "Ki char'b'cho heinafto o'lehoh vat'chal'lehoh" (Shmos 20:22), - because when you have lifted your sword upon her (the altar) you have desecrated her. This is a novel approach to the verse, which normally is understood to only prohibit cutting the stones for building the altar with a metal instrument. It seems that the Chizkuni must admit that a metal instrument that is not a blade is permitted, as the gemara relates that metal pitchforks were used to turn the meat of the offerings.

Ch. 1, v. 15: "Es rosho" - Its head - The mishneh Z'vochim 64b explains that the requirement to separate the head of the bird from its body only applies to an "oloh" offering and not a "chatos" offering, where the verse says "lo yavdil" (verse 17). Why this difference? Vayikroh Rabboh chapter #7 says that an "oloh" offering affords atonement for sins that are in the realm of thought, "hirhur haLEIV." We find this expression, "thoughts of the HEART" in the Torah as well, "V'chol yeitzer mach'sh'vos LIBO rak ra kol ha'yom" (Breishis 6:5). It would seem that thoughts should be relegated to the mind and not the heart.

We cannot hold a person responsible for a fleeting negative thought that enters his mind, as this is very hard to control. This might be the intention of the gemara B.B. 164b, that no one is free of "thoughts of sin." What is in a person's control is to chase such a thought out of his mind before it settles into his heart, changing from a thought to an emotional urge. Thus when discussing wrong thoughts the verse and our Rabbis both express it as "thoughts of the HEART." It is now well understood that by an "oloh" offering the head is separated from the body. This is to symbolize to a person that even if a negative thought has entered his head it should not be nurtured and enter the heart.

However, by a "chatos" offering the opposite is true. A person unintentionally sinned with the organs of his body. Had he applied his head, he could have avoided sinning. Thus the verse says that by a "chatos offering" the head should not be separated from the body. (Shem miShmuel)

Ch. 1, v. 16: "V'heisir es muroso" - And he shall remove its waste area - Rashi explains that the intestines of an animal are accepted upon the altar because a domesticated animal eats from the trough of its owner, while the digestive system of a bird is not accepted, as a bird eats "stolen" food. The Holy Alshich asks, "If so, why is a bird accepted as a sacrifice altogether? Its body is sustained from the same stolen food, so why limit this to its intestines only? He answers that the Rambam hilchos g'zeiloh 2:1 writes that if stolen goods remain intact they should be returned to their rightful owner. If they have undergone a change, then their value should be repaid to the owner. Thus the food that has been absorbed into the body of the bird is no longer the original stolen goods, while the food in its intestines is. It is interesting to note that although this basic concept applies to kashrus as well, i.e. if a kosher species of animal consumed a non-kosher item, it still remains kosher and may be consumed, nevertheless, if fed a steady diet of non-Kosher food we find in Daas Torah by the Brezhaner Gaon, hilchos treifos 60:5 that he quotes Rabbi Shlomo Kluger as ruling that a goose which was fattened on an exclusively lard diet is prohibited for consumption. If we consider a bird as being sustained only with "stolen food" then we are hard-pressed to differentiate. Perhaps we assume that a bird eats only some of its food from the wild and not from privately owned plants.

Ch. 1, v. 17: "V'shisa oso vichnofov lo yavdil" - And he shall rip it apart by its wings he shall not totally tear it asunder - The Holy Alshich interprets these words homiletically. A bird is the offering of a poor man. When a wealthy person who has indulged in the perceived pleasures of this ephemeral world takes leave and heads heavenward, he does so with great difficulty, because he is going to a spiritual abode, bereft of the physical accommodations that were his daily fare. Not so the poor man whose daily diet was physical depravation, he will fly upwards and cut through the spheres with his wings. There will be no separation, as he led a spiritual life on earth as well.

Ch. 2, v. 4: "Urki'kei matzos" - And flat breads - The second Beis Hamikdosh stood for 420 years. The gemara Yoma 9b says that in spite of there being much Torah study during that era the Beis Hamikdosh was destroyed because of baseless hatred. "R'ki'kei" has the numerical value of 420. The reason that the second Beis Hamikdosh stood only 420 years is because of "matzos," arguments, caused by baseless hatred. (Nirreh li)

Ch. 2, v. 13: "Melach bris Elokecho" - Salt covenant of your Hashem - Rashi says that when Hashem created the world He placed water into two areas, the heavens and earth. Naturally, the waters placed into the heavens were pleased, but the waters relegated to earth were very displeased. Hashem made a covenant with the lower waters to have them used as an offering during Sukos, and on a daily basis salt extracted from water would be used to accompany all sacrifices.

The Yalkut Reuveini brings that the lower waters are called "mayim bochim," - crying waters, as they were displeased with being placed into this ephemeral earthy existence. This is alluded to in the verse, "Mi'bechi naharos chivash," (Iyov 28:11). How interesting to note that the future use of the salt extracted from the water is alluded to in the title "bochim," whose numerical value is equal to that of "melach." (Niflo'os Chadoshos)

Ch. 4, v. 22: "Asher nossi yecheto" - When a tribal head will sin - The change from "im," found by others who sin (verses 13 and 27) to "asher" brings Toras Kohanim 4:257 to phonetically derive, "Fortunate ("asher" = "ashrei") is the generation whose tribal leader takes to heart that he requires an atonement for even unintentional sins. Why does the Toras Kohanim attribute the good fortune so globally, to the generation, and not to the leader alone? This is because a person does not see his own shortcomings (gemara Shabbos 119a), even in his intentional acts and surely not unintentional acts. The only way that he realizes that he has sinned must be through the admonition of the people around him. If the tribal head is ready to bring an atonement it is to the credit of his generation. (Rabbi Yisroel of Salant)



See also Oroh V'Simchoh - Meshech Chochmoh on the Weekly Parsha and Chasidic Insights

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