Parasha Blog

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Parasha Thoughts

By Rabbi Yosef Shemtov

Passover! Jews call it Hag Ha’Pesach, but in the Torah G-d calls it Hag Ha’Matza. Why does Passover have two names? The Chag has two names because in a relationship we should emphasize the positive qualities of the other. Jews call it Hag Ha’Pesach (literally Passover) to emphasize the fact that G-d saved us from calamity by passing over houses. G-d calls it Hag Ha’Matzah (literally unleavened bread) to emphasize the Jews’ complete trust in him as we followed his command and rushed out of Egypt to the desert, not even allowing the dough time to rise. Therefore, Passover is the time to renew our faith and trust in G-d and to rely on his help in every situation in life.

This principle applies to our relationship with G-d as well as our relationships with our spouses, children, coworkers, etc… We should always see the good in others. We shouldn’t focus on what we have contributed. Instead, we should focus on being appreciative for what we have received. This outlook helps us create healthy and everlasting relationships.

On behalf of everyone at Yachad Kollel, I would like to wish you a happy and meaningful Passover.

 

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Parasha Thoughts

By Rabbi Avraham Moeinzadeh

“This shall be the law of the Metzora on the day of his purification: he shall be brought to the Kohen. The Kohen shall go forth to the outside of the camp…”

Last week in Parashat Tazria we learned the symptoms of a metzora and how one is required to act while he has these symptoms. This week’s parasha discusses the process of purification of a metzora. There is a seeming contradiction in the beginning of the parasha between the pesukim above. At first, the Torah tells us that the metzora shall be brought to the kohen while in the very next pasuk it is written that the kohen shall go forth to the metzora.

In response, “Shem Mishemuel” suggests that although the metzora is forbidden from entering the camp and must remain outside until his leprosy heals, the Torah wants to hint to him a remedy for expediting the process. In order him to get ready for purification, the metzora has to yearn for being tahor and be able to come to the camp of kohanim. Once he truly has such a desire he will receive heavenly aid for his teshuva to be accepted and for his tzaraat to heal.

Sometimes one might feel there is no way for him to actively change his spiritual status and to elevate himself in certain areas. This week’s parasha is telling us that although there may be some truth to this, if there is a real urge to achieve something there will be Siata Dishmaya to make it possible.

Shabbat Shalom.

 

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Parasha Thoughts

By Rabbi Shemuel Akhamzadeh

וְטִהַ֖ר אֶת־הַנָּ֑גַע כֻּלּ֛וֹ הָפַ֥ךְ לָבָ֖ן טָה֥וֹר הֽוּא׃

He is clean, for he has turned all white. (ויקרא יג, יג)

When Saraat is partiality white it’s a sign of impurity. However, the above verse teaches us if the whole saraat turns white it’s not impure. In Massechet Sanhedrin 97a Rav Yitzhak states that Mashiach will not come until the entire kingdom turns to heresy and our verse is used as the proof of this idea.

Harav Shimon Schwab explains the idea as follows: tumaa, impurity, has no life of its own and it only thrives by sucking energy from the side of kedusha, purity. Therefore, when everything has turned impure, there will be no source of energy for impurity to sustain itself and it will collapse. So too is Saraat; when it’s fully white it is pure. Another example given by Rav Schwab is from the story of the meraglim (spies) that Moshe sent. The meraglim started on a positive and true note saying that the land is a land of milk and honey and then they began spewing the lies about the land because no lie can stand unless some truth is mixed in to it.

 

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Parasha Thoughts

By Rabbi Shlomo Zargari

Shalom, our parasha is one of the main sources for the laws of kashrut.

דַּבְּר֛וּ אֶל־בְּנֵ֥י יִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל לֵאמֹ֑ר זֹ֤את הַֽחַיָּה֙ אֲשֶׁ֣ר תֹּאכְל֔וּ מִכָּל־הַבְּהֵמָ֖ה אֲשֶׁ֥ר
עַל־הָאָֽרֶץ׃

Speak to the Bene Yisrael thus: These are the creatures that you may eat from among all the land animals:(Vayikra 11,2)

Rabeinu Ovadia Seforno asked what is the connection between the laws of kashrut and the inauguration of the Mishkan and the services?
It is so to teach us that as we know, the Mishkan is the place where the Shechina of HaShem rests, but the goal is to have it rest in the hearts of every Jew, as the well-known verse says:

וְעָ֥שׂוּ לִ֖י מִקְדָּ֑שׁ וְשָׁכַנְתִּ֖י בְּתוֹכָֽם׃

And let them make Me a sanctuary that I may dwell among them.(Shemot 25,8)

Meaning, by observing the services being performed in the Mishkan and the Bet HaMikdash, the fear of HaShem will be instilled in our hearts.
But there’s a prerequisite for this: to keep the sanctity of the foods and not to contaminate our soul with food that is not allowed by the Torah. One who consumes these foods damages his Neshama and distances the Shechina from himself:
Like it says at the end of the parasha:

אַל־תְּשַׁקְּצוּ֙ אֶת־נַפְשֹׁ֣תֵיכֶ֔ם בְּכָל־הַשֶּׁ֖רֶץ הַשֹּׁרֵ֑ץ וְלֹ֤א תִֽטַּמְּאוּ֙ בָּהֶ֔ם וְנִטְמֵתֶ֖ם בָּֽם׃

You shall not draw abomination upon yourselves through anything that swarms; you shall not make yourselves unclean therewith and thus become unclean.

 

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Parasha Thoughts

By Rabbi David Cohen

This is the law of the sin-offering; in the place where the Olah (Elevation/Burnt-Offering) is slaughtered, shall the sin-offering be slaughtered. (6:17)

The Torah details the various laws applicable to the korbanot, ritual offerings. One intriguing halachah that demands elucidation is that of the Korban Chatat, Sin-offering, which was slaughtered in the same place in the Courtyard of the Mishkan, already used for the Korban Olah, Burnt-offering. The Olah was slaughtered b’tzafon, to the north, of the Mizbayach, Altar. Why is the primary halachah that of the Olah being slaughtered in the north, with the “follow-up” being the Chatat? This implies that the need to have the Olah slaughtered in the north is of greater significance to the Olah than to the Chatat. Second, why does the Chatas merely “follow” the Olah? They are two distinct korbanot, with apparently no connection to one another.

The Shem MiShmuel quotes his father, the Avnei Nezer, who makes a profound observation concerning the Korban Olah. An Olah is brought to atone for sinful thoughts which did not conclude with any action. The Olah was slaughtered in the north. The Hebrew word for north is tzafon, which has the same root as the word matzpun, which means conscience or intellect. The Olah is, thus, slaughtered in the north, because the north represents man’s intellect, the place where the sin requiring the Olah had occurred: the intellect/mind/conscience.

While this addresses why the Korban Olah was brought in the north, it creates a new difficulty. Since the Olah was brought to atone for sins emanating from the intellect or “intellectual sins,” those which involved no physical action – only evil thoughts – it was suited for the north. This was, so to speak, the intellectual corner of the Courtyard. If so, why was the Chatat brought in the same place? The Sin-offering was a korban brought to atone for an accidental sin – a sin which was carried out – without thought. Had any of these sins been performed with deliberation, they would have incurred a punishment of karet, Heavenly excision. The Chatat represents sinful behavior without intellect, [a sinful act without sinful aforethought]. The mind was not engaged when the body carried out the sinful act, diametrically contrasting the Olah, which is a sinful thought without an act. Why, then, should they be so closely intertwined to the point that both offerings have to be slaughtered in the same place?

The Shem MiShmuel feels that we must first delve into the nature of inadvertent sin, the precipitator of the Korban Chatat. Why does one sin inadvertently? On a simple level, one either forgets that it is Shabbat and acts the way he would during the week – precipitating a number of transgressions; or, he is aware that it is Shabbat, but has forgotten that a particular activity is prohibited on Shabbat. In either event, he acted without malice and aforethought. Indeed, he acted without thinking – period. He is obliged to bring a Korban Chatat to atone for his action.

Why does this happen? Should we view inadvertent sin as a mere accident, totally unpreventable? The Shem MiShmuel does not seem to think so. In fact, he feels that when a person sins, his action reflects more than mere chance. We all have our desires, our likes and dislikes. When the Torah prohibits a certain activity, a specific food, it does not mean that we no longer have any interest in it or that the activity no longer is something we enjoy doing. In reality, our desire still exists, but it is harnessed. We refrain from actually doing the prohibited act because the Torah forbids it. Our consciousness of Hashem’s will prevails over our physical desire to act, to eat.

Thus, despite the fact that one is controlling himself, his desire for the act creates a connection to the psyche, which controls him from carrying out the forbidden deed. The consequence of this interplay between psyche and deed is that, while he would never consciously perform the transgression, when his guard is down – for whatever reason – if he is not thinking rationally, his reflex will be to transgress. This is the true act of aveirah b’shogeg, inadvertent sin: one in which were he to be mindful and in control, he would never act sinfully; but when he is not mindful, it just “slips” out – not on purpose – not with malice – just “slipping.”

We now understand the connection between the Olah and the Chatat. The commonality between them is that they are both sins of the mind. Inappropriate, sinful thoughts are the springboards for sins which obligate each individual offering. As such, both sacrifices are slaughtered in the north, the place which emblemizes the power of the intellect.