CHAMISHOH MI YODEI'A - FIVE QUESTIONS ON THE WEEKLY SEDRAH - PARSHAS VAYIKRA 5768 - BS"D
1) Ch. 1, v.3: "Min habokor zochor" - Why is a "korban oloh" only a male?
2) 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?
3) Ch. 1, v. 15: "Es rosho" - The mishnoh 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?
4) Ch. 5, v. 8: "Umolak es rosho mimul orpo" - We have two startling "chidushim" regarding the bird offerings. One is that it is slaughtered with the nail of the Kohein. When slaughtering a non-sacrificial bird or an animal, whether sacrificial or mundane (chulin), this would render it non-kosher, and by a sacrificial bird only with the laceration made with a nail is it fit. If a blade is used the sacrificial bird is rendered unfit. The second matter is that ritually correct slaughtering, whether for mundane (chulin) meat or for a sacrifice, always requires slaughtering from the front of the neck and not the nape. Here by the bird offering, only entry from the nape is proper. Why these major deviations from normal slaughter?
5) Ch. 5, v. 26: "L'ashmoh voh" - The Baal Mo'ore Voshemesh in his writings on parshas "Hachodesh" mentions that it was the custom of the congregation of the Holy Admor Rabbi Mendel of Riminov to say in unison the words "Lo'Keil Asher Shovas Mikol Hamaasim Ba'yom Hashvii" immediately after the reading of "l'ashmoh voh," the last words of our parsha. We do not want to end a reading with a negative statement, so these words from the Shabbos morning prayers were said, as their first letters form the acronym "l'ashmoh voh." This is very nice, but the question remains. Why do we end the parsha with something negative?
The Ibn Ezra says that the reason for a "korban oloh" being male only, is that since a "korban oloh's" flesh is totally consumed on the altar, it is a primary sacrifice compared to others that have their flesh eaten by people. Therefore it is only a male, which is also the dominant gender (in its strength). According to this an explanation is needed for the female bird "korban oloh." Perhaps the Ibn Ezra feels that the dominance is present in animals only and not in birds.
Rabbi Meir 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.
Vayikra 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)
The Chinuch in mitzvoh #124 says that the Torah requires these two severe departures from the norm to accommodate the man who is so poor that he is financially forced to bring an avian sacrifice. By requiring the use of the Kohein's nail rather than a ritual slaughtering knife, a "chalif," time is saved by not having to fetch the knife and making sure it is properly sharpened. Secondly time is saved by slaughtering the bird from the nape side, which is the side naturally facing the Kohein. Slaughtering from the front side requires turning the bird's neck and firmly holding the neck in that position. The Torah wanted to speed the process for the poor man, concerned even with saving him seconds, as he is pressed financially to pursue any manner of income available. What a powerful lesson to not waste the time of a poor person!
The Yerushalmi Kidushin 1:1 and the Sifro (Toras Kohanim) in its final words on our parsha both derive from the words "l'ashmoh voh" that one need not return an object which was taken from another and is likewise not held responsible for causing a loss if it is less than a most minimal coin called a "prutoh." If one would be held accountable for even less than a "prutoh" loss to his fellow man, it would seem that no one would be free of this sin. Anytime one causes another a most minor delay or inconvenience when he should not have done so, has caused a loss of the value of less than a "prutoh." How great is our joy when we derive from these words that one is not held responsible for causing a loss of less than a "prutoh." We are indeed ending the parsha on a very positive note. (Nirreh li)
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