Oroh V'Simchoh

Meshech Chochmoh
on the Weekly Parsha

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by Zvi Akiva Fleisher

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Ch. 12, v. 6: "U'vimlos y'mei tohoroh l'vein o l'vas" - Earlier in verse 2 the son who is born is called "zochor," and in verse 5 the daughter is called "n'keivoh." Only here does the verse call them a "ben" or a "bas." The Meshech Chochmoh explains this with the gemara Shabbos 135b, which says that until a newborn reaches the age of 30 days he does not yet have the status of a viable person, a "bar ka'yomo," as unfortunately, numerous children die shortly after their birth. A baby who has not achieved the status of viability does not have the title "ben," as per the gemara Nozir 13a. However, in our verse when the mother has passed the time of her purity, 33 days after the initial impurity stage of 7 days after having given birth, a total of 40 days, the newborn is well past 30 days old and is a viable child, hence the title "ben" or "bas."

Ch. 12, v. 6: "U'ven yonoh o sore l'chatos" - Wherever the Torah mentions a young dove and a mature turtledove as a sacrifice, the Torah mentions the turtledove first. Why is the order changed here? The Baal Haturim answers that in the other places two birds are brought. This gives us the possibility that the sacrificial pair of birds might be a couple that has mated. However, in our verse, but one bird is used as a sacrifice. The gemara Eiruvin and the P'sikto Zut'r'so Vayikroh 1:14 both say that the turtledove has such a high level of fidelity to its mate that if its mate dies or is captured it no longer seeks another mate for the rest of its life. Since only one is taken this would leave a lone mate living out the rest of its days in utter solitude. The Torah therefore mentions taking a young dove first, as the preferable choice. The Meshech Chochmoh asks why even a woman of financial means brings a bird as an atonement offering and not a lamb or goat, as is the case with one who is required to bring a chatos offering.

He answers that the reason a woman requires atonement altogether after giving birth is because we assume that during the severe pangs of labour pains in the birthing process the mother has vowed to never become pregnant again. Obviously this cannot be fulfilled, as a woman has the responsibility of having marital relations with her husband. She therefore has to bring an atonement for this vow which is an act of rebellion against her husband. As just mentioned above, the turtledove has the nature of having total fidelity and commitment to its partner. The Torah therefore requires of the woman who has given birth and vowed to not have relations with her husband again, to learn a lesson from the turtledove, which is totally committed to its partner.

Ch. 13, v. 3: "V'ro'oh haKohen es ha'nega .. v'ro'ohu haKohein v'ti'mei oso" - And the Kohein shall see the affliction .. and the Kohein shall see it/him and the Kohein shall declare him defiled - Since the beginning of the verse tells us that the Kohein sees an affliction that has the signs of impurity, shouldn't the verse end by only saying "v'ti'mei oso"? Seemingly, the words "v'ro'ohu haKohein" are redundant.

The first words of this verse tell the Kohein to view the affliction and to decide if it has the characteristics of a defiling "nega." Once the Kohein has concluded that it has, he must now look at the person, "v'ro'ohu," to see if he is to be judged as defiled. There are some exceptions, where even if the person has definite signs of a "nega to'mei," nevertheless he is not to be rendered defiled, such as a newlywed during his 7 days of rejoicing (gemara M.K. 8a). (MESHECH CHOCHMOH)


Ch. 14, v. 20: "V'CHI'PER olov" - we see a CHANGE in terminology between the verses describing the bringing of the rich man's sacrifices and the poor man's sacrifices where it says in verse 29 "L'CHA'PEIR olov." The MESHECH CHOCHMOH and Oznayim laTorah both explain this with the gemara Arochin 16a. It says that one of the causes for "tzoraas" is haughtiness. It is common for a wealthy man to be haughty. Although haughtiness is a characteristic TRAIT that is to be despised and one should distance himself from IT greatly (Pikei Ovos 4:4), nevertheless it is the nature of a wealthy person to have this flaw, as stated in Dvorim 8:13,14, "V'chesef v'zohov yirbeh loch, V'rom l'vovcho." His sin is not as severe as that of a "dal gei'eh," a pauper who is arrogant and supercilious. The gemara P'sochim 113b says that such a person is an abomination in the eyes of Hashem and man.

Therefore the Torah says "V'CHI'PER olov" by the wealthy person, indicating that he receives full atonement. The poor person also receives atonement after going through the prescribed procedures. However, there is still a need for great introspection and character improvement. The Torah therefore expresses itself with the words "L'CHA'PEIR olov" to indicate with the letter Lamed, meaning TOWARDS bringing atonement, that this is only a step in the direction of full atonement.

The Oznayim laTorah adds that this explains why by the description of the "tzoraas" afflicting the wealthy man it says "Zose t'h'yeh toras ha'metzoroh" (14:2), and by the poor man it says "Zose toras asher BO nega tzoro'as." The poor man has the "tzoraas," the cause for this affliction, imbedded within him.

Ch. 14, v. 21: "V'im dal hu" - Although a wealthy man should not bring the atonement sacrifices prescribed for a poor man, nevertheless, if he did so it provides him with atonement. The gemara Yoma 41b says that there is an exception by the sacrifices of a "metzoroh" where it does not atone. This is derived from the word "ZOSE," in 14:2, indicating "exactly this" and no variation. Why does the Torah treat the "metzoroh oshir" different from all others who are wealthy and bring a poor man's sacrifice?

The MESHECH CHOCHMOH answers that since the gemara Yoma 11b says that the cause for "tzoraas" is being stingy, if the wealthy man is still stingy and brings the less costly sacrifice that is designated for a poor man, he obviously has not repented and is afforded no atonement, "toveil v'sheretz b'yodo." The MESHECH CHOCHMOH offers two other brilliant answers. They can be found in his commentary on 14:51.

Ch. 14, v. 21: "V'im dal hu v'ein yodo ma'seges" - The gemara Yoma 41b brings a disagreement regarding one who is wealthy and brings the sacrifice designated for a poor man to offer. One opinion is that he has fulfilled his responsibility, and the other that he has not. However, regarding the sacrifices required for the purifying process of the metzoroh, everyone agrees that he has not discharged his responsibilities by bringing the sacrifice of a poor man.

R' Yaakov haLevi Landau, the son of the Noda Bihudoh, explains that since one of the seven causes of tzoraas (gemara Arochin 16a) is stinginess, by displaying this trait at the time of purification, we see that the metzoroh has not rid himself of this negative midoh.

The Chinuch in mitzvoh #123, dealing with the details of the laws of bringing an "oloh v'yoreid" sacrifice, says that if a poor man brought the sacrifice which is appropriate as an offering for the wealthy man, he has not discharged his obligation, and must bring that which is required of a poor man. Commentators ask that this seems to be contradictory to the mishneh in N'go'im 14:12, which clearly states that if a poor metzoroh brought the sacrifices of the wealthy person, he has fulfilled his obligation. The Imrei Emes answered this question with the few succinct words; "This person is lacking a korbon." Rabbi Menachem Ziemba zt"l Hy"d explained the words of the Imrei Emes. The Chinuch is discussing the sin-offerings of one who has defiled the Sanctuary or the sacrifices. The wealthy person is required to bring a lamb as a chatos. The poor person is required to bring two birds, one as a chatos, and one as an oloh.

When bringing the korbon of the wealthy person, which is only a chatos, the poor person has not brought an oloh, thus not fulfilling his requirements. However, the mishneh in N'go'im discusses a metzoroh. A wealthy metzoroh brings three animals, one for a chatos, one for an oloh, and one for an oshom. The poor person, likewise, brings three korbonos, a bird for a chatos, another bird for an oloh, and an animal for an oshom. Hence he has brought all three types of korbonos that are required of him even if he brings a wealthy man's korbonos.

This explanation of the Imrei Emes seems to make the Chinuch disagree with Ibn Ezra which was mentioned in parshas Vayikroh. I take the liberty of presenting the Ibn Ezra and the commentary of the MESHECH CHOCHMOH again. The seeming disagreement is very apparent. < The gemara Chulin 22a says that the processing of the bird "oloh" may not be done at night because it is compared to the "chatos" bird offering that accompanies it, which may only be done by day. Someone asked the Rashb"o (T'shuvos hoRashb"o vol. 1, responsa #276), "How could anyone even entertain the thought that the "oloh" offering could be processed at night, since we have a teaching from Vayikroh 7:37,38 that ALL sacrifices must have their blood processing, avodas hadam, done by day?" The Rashb"o responded that he had no answer for this question, but suggested another text in the above gemara which totally leaves out the comparison of "olas ho'ofe" to "chatos ho'ofe."

The Ibn Ezra asks, "Why is there a need for an "oloh" altogether, since the original sacrifice was only a "chatos?" He answers that since the original sacrifice was a sheep or goat (5:6), there would have been a portion for the Kohein and a portion for the altar as well. However, if the poor person were to only bring a "chatos" offering of a bird, there would be nothing for the altar. The sole purpose of bringing the "oloh" bird offering is to give the altar its portion.

The MESHECH CHOCHMOH says that according to this Ibn Ezra we can understand why there is a need for a special teaching that THIS "olas ho'ofe" cannot be processed at night. Although no sacrifices may be processed at night, but since the whole purpose of bringing this "oloh" was to offer the altar its portion; there is good reason to believe that this would be an exception. The burning of "olos" may be done at night, as mentioned in the first mishneh of Brochos regarding burning of parts of korbonos at night. Similarly, one might think that the complete processing of this particular "oloh" might be done at night. Therefore we need a special comparison to its accompanying offering, the "chatos ho'ofe", that it may only be done by day.

The MESHECH CHOCHMOH had a visitor on the day that the above Torah thought came to his mind. The MESHECH CHOCHMOH told his guest that he had taken a short midday nap that day and had a dream in which the Rashboh appeared to him and told him that the MESHECH CHOCHMOH had answered the question posed to the Rashboh in a far superior manner.>>

A possible way of avoiding a Chinuch-Ibn Ezra disagreement might be by saying that after there is a verse advising us that there is a requirement to process the "olas ho'ofe" during the daytime, by comparing it (hekish) to the "chatos ho'ofe," this gives the "olas ho'ofe" an intrinsic value as an independent korbon, not just as a way to avoid depriving the altar of its portion of the korbon. This independent korbon is missing when the poor man brings the korbon of the wealthy person.

Ch. 14, v. 51: "V'hizoh el haba'yis" - The Toras Kohanim 5:14 says that the Kohein should sprinkle the mixture onto the lintel (the horizontal upper door post) of the house. The MESHECH CHOCHMOH explains this with the gemara Yoma 11b, which says that a "nega" that appears on a house is caused by stinginess, as indicated by the words "Asher LO haba'yis" (14:35). The house is only for HIS use, and he does not lend household vessels to others, claiming that he has none to lend. The "nega" forces him to remove his vessels (verse 36) and all see that he has many vessels. A "nega" that appears on one's body is caused by loshon hora.

The gemara K'suvos 5b says that one should not listen to loshon hora. If he hears someone speaking loshon hora he has the physical tools to block it from entering his ears. He may either place the tips of his smallest fingers into his ears, or (if he is learning Torah at the time and by placing his fingers into his ears he will defile his hands and require cleansing them, thus causing "bitul Torah") press his ear lobes into the ear canal, effectively blocking out inappropriate audio reception.

This is the reason the Torah requires placing blood of the sacrifice and oil onto his ear lobes and fingers, to remind him that had he made use of these tools and blocked out the words of loshon hora, he would not have become a "metzoroh."

Similarly, says the MESHECH CHOCHMOH, the medrash tells us that the sprinkling of the mixture onto the house is specifically aimed at the lintel of the doorway, to indicate that the owner should not have his door locked, but rather have it wide open for guests and lending of vessels.


See also Sedrah Selections, Chasidic Insights and Chamisha Mi Yodei'a

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