VORTIFY YOURSELF

From
Rabbi Yosil Rosenzweig
e-mail rebiyosil@earthlink.net

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PARSHAT VAYIKRa

Vayikra (Leviticus) 1:1-5:26
Haftorah - Isaiah 43:21-44:23
020315

All you have to do is mention animal sacrifices to a liberal, sophisticated Jews and you can see how quickly they wince. Let's leave those sacrifices in the Jewish closet. After all, there is no Temple today, so what's the point of bringing up a word that smacks of primitive cults, a form of Judaism alien to the modern spirit?

It shouldn't come as a surprise, therefore, that when Jews decide to institute change, particularly if it's based on the notion of progress within Western civilization, the first place they take their scalpel to, is the Book of Leviticus and the ancient world of Jewish sacrifices portrayed in this week's Torah reading.

Whether it's stripped from the Sabbath prayers or from the Sabbath morning readings from the Torah, out it goes, a quick, clean incision, with nary a glance backward. There is just too much good material in Genesis and Exodus to get stuck in the quagmire of Leviticus.

Perhaps they have a point. But I think that in their dedication to certain kinds of ethics, the “cultural revolutions” of Judaism may have overlooked the ethical structure presented right in the text itself if you were only to step back for a moment and read carefully.

Of the four kinds of sacrifice, the first is the Korban Olah, the burnt offering in which everything is completely sent up in smoke to Hashem. Neither priest nor penitent gets an opportunity to eat any of it, not even a bone to suck on.

This sacrifice comes when a person struggling to overcome their “evil inclination” finally overpowers it and, in an act of recognition to their new determined state of mind, offers a complete and total burning, like someone who has reached the bottom rung of the ladder and feels that it's all lost, over, worthless, and even if they aren't dead yet, they certainly feel that way. Suddenly something hits them, and there's new hope, a passion for life. It's because of this that the Korban Olah is brought during the festivals, each one of which signifies a significant turning point in the year and in the individual's life.

The Torah is saying that to change one's life, it's necessary to find something which one can dedicate oneself to completely. The whole body, the whole being, to a higher cause, a higher ideal. And unless you have such an ideal worthy of total sacrifice, life is hardly worth living.

The second kind of sacrifice is the Mincha, the meal offering, something simple, easily accessible, as common as flour and oil. If the person is so poor that they cannot afford to bring a bull, a goat or even a turtle dove, they needn't feel shame. The Torah calls this offering of meal, oil and frankincense a “holy of holies.”

With this we see that everybody can serve Hashem on their own level. No matter how unfortunate one is, there is always someone else less fortunate who would do anything to be in your position. Furthermore, since so many of us tend to take the basics - the flour and oil of life - for granted, as if they're coming to us, isn't it important to thank Hashem for these as well?

The third category is the Chatat, the sinoffering. When a person brings this sacrifice, they places their hands on the head of the animal and recite the confessional. In effect, this offering says that every person is given life and the correct way to live it; even though this particular sin may have been commited by accident or temporary amnesia, still it must be expiated. Sin is serious. A person cannot ignore the ramifications of their actions and must be given a physical means to atone for them.

The fourth category is the exact opposite of a sin-offering. A thanksgiving or peace-offering takes place when there is an overflow of feeling, something special has happened. Like you won the lottery or you inherited money from a relative you didn't know you had, or your son got into Harvard or, even better, into Yeshiva. All you really want to do is thank Hashem.

Sacrifices aren't simply a tapestry of blood and guts, the fetishes of a primitive cult seeking to drown itself in the mystery of the blood and the ecstasy of the fire. They're actually a broad overview of the vagaries of life and a methodology to master one's pitfalls, trials, and tribulations. Occasionally, they are even a way to celebrate.

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Yosil Rosenzweig

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MECHIRAT CHAMETZ The Sale Of Chametz (unleavened food, byproducts and utensils)

All Chametz not destroyed, or given as a gift must be sold to a nonJew. A Rabbi is appointed as an agent of the seller of the Chametz, to sell it to a nonJew. Not only does one sell the Chametz in his/her possession, but also subleases to the nonJew the property upon which the Chametz is located. The nonJew is allowed free access to the Chametz he purchases.

This procedure is not a legal fiction but a true sale in accordance with both Talmudic and Secular Law. It is advisable to list with the Rabbi, the types of Chametz you are selling. The Chametz utensils (pots, pans and dinnerware) are not sold to the nonJew but are rented to him and any actual Chametz is sold to him. Otherwise, the utensils would require Tevilah (dunking in a Mikvah) before use (after Passover).

Any person who may not find it possible to personally appear before the Rabbi to appoint him as an agent to sell his/her Chametz may use the form below. Fill in the blank spaces and mail it to Rabbi Yosil Rosenzweig, so that it is received prior to March 26, 2002.

Care should be taken not to benefit after Passover from Chametz or leaven belonging to a Jew who did not, or, who is suspected of not having sold the Chametz before Passover. The legal intricacies covering the transfer of property are many, and only a Rabbi should be entrusted with its execution.

THE PROHIBITION OF EATING CHAMETZ BEGINS AT DIFFERENT TIMES IN DIFFERENT LOCATIONS AROUND THE WORLD. A RABBI SHOULD BE CONSULTED AS TO THE EXACT TIME IN YOUR AREA. SUFFICE IT TO SAY THAT IN AREA'S THAT EXACT TIMES ARE NOT KNOWN, NO CHAMETZ SHOULD BE EATEN ON EREV PESACH (WEDNESDAY, MARCH 27, 2002) AFTER 9:30 AM AND CHAMETZ MUST BE BURNT BEFORE 10:30 AM. THE FAST DAY FOR FIRST BORN MALES IN COMMEMORATION OF THE PLAGUE ON THE FIRSTBORN EGYPTIANS WILL ALSO BE OBSERVED ON WEDNESDAY, MARCH 27, 2002.

IN ORDER TO ALLOW THE RABBI TIME TO COMPLETE THE ARRANGEMENTS WITH THE AGENT AT THE CONCLUSION OF PESACH, ALL SOLD CHAMETZ MAY ONLY BEGIN TO BE USED AFTER 10:00 PM ON THURSDAY, APRIL 4, 2002.

Rabbi Rosenzweig will arrange for the sale of Chametz on the morning of the Eve of Passover. The traditional selling of all Chametz in your possession is a mandatory legal procedure, it is required of everyone in order to assure a Chametz free household. It is best to contact your local Rabbi to arrange for your Mechirat Chametz after weekday services or during office hours.

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SHTAR HARSHA'AH DELEGATION OF POWER OF ATTORNEY FOR THE SALE OF CHAMETZ

Know that I __________________________________________ (please print), fully permit and empower Rabbi Yosil Rosenzweig to act in my place and stead, and in my behalf to sell all Chametz possessed by me (knowingly or unknowingly) as defined by the Torah and Rabbinic Law (e.g. Chametz, doubt of Chametz, usable utensils, and all animals that have been eating Chametz or mixtures thereof), and lease all places wherein Chametz may be found, especially in the premises located at (address and city):

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
name

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
address

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
city

Rabbi Yosil Rosenzweig has the full right to sell and to lease by transactions, as he deems fit and proper and for such time which he believes is necessary in accordance with all detailed terms and detailed forms as explained in the Sell/Lease Agreement which Rabbi Yosil Rosenzweig will negotiate.

This general authorization is made a part of the Sell/Lease Agreement. Also, I hereby give the said Rabbi Yosil Rosenzweig full power and authority to appoint a substitute in his stead with full power to sell and to lease Chametz as provided herein. The above given power is in conformity with all Torah, Rabbinical regulations and laws, and also in accordance with local secular laws.

I affix my signature of

this _____ day of March, in the year 2002.

________________________________________________
(signature).

(Though this is not a requirement, when selling your Chametz, there is a custom to give Rabbi financial remuneration for the sale and repurchase of the Chametz.)

Mail to Rabbi Yosil Rosenzweig
2195 Eastern Parkway
Schenectady, NY 12309


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