Vayikra – Sacrificial Offerings and Pesach: No Double Standards

This dvar Torah is dedicated in memory of my paternal grandparents, Menachem Mendel ben Chaim and Raizel ben Moshe upon their yahretzeit, the 5th of Nissan. They passed away on the same day a few years apart. 

This week we begin the Book of Vayikra which mainly discusses the sacrificial offerings first brought in the Mishkan and eventually in the Beis HaMikdash.
Rabbeinu Bachye says the simple reason of why offerings were brought to Hashem was, “The offerings were all for the sake of mankind. For The Exulted Hashem desired that man shall be the chosen species and for him the world was created in order to be totally spiritual like the angels of Hashem, without sin. But when man sinned, he was guilty because of his evil inclination (yetzer hara) embedded inside him. It is therefore befitting for him to regret, recognize, and focus on the meek state of himself and the glorified quality of his Exulted Master who he rebelled against His word. And he is obligated to place in his heart that he sinned before Him with his body and soul. Since all the actions of man can be included in 3 categories, action, speech, and thought, which are 3 ways to sin, therefore the Torah obligated man to bring a sacrifice for his sin…” (See Rabbeinu Bachye in his entirety in Vayikra 1:9).

One of the forms of sacrifice for atonement of sin was a meal offering. There is an important lesson here which relates to Pesach. The Torah states, “Any meal offering that you will bring to Hashem should not be made with chometz, for any leaven and any honey should not be burned on the fire to Hashem” (Vayikra 2:13). Rabbeinu Bachye explains that the simple reason why no chometz or honey was part of the meal offering was because, “sacrifices were an atonement for our sins, and if not for the inciter, and enticer who is the yetzer hara, man would not sin and would not need to bring a sacrifice at all. Leaven and honey are the yetzer hara itself as Chaza”l say regarding chometz and matzah on Pesach that a person must turn his heart from the yetzer hara. That is why the Torah says, ‘Don’t eat upon it chometz’ (Devarim 16:3), referring to the korban Pesach. And the Korban Pesach was an atonement for the idols they worshipped in Egypt. For this reason, He distanced them from the yetzer hara in order to not go back to idolatry…” (Click here for Hebrew text.)
Rabbeinu Bachye concludes his simple understanding of why there aren’t chometz and honey in meal offerings saying, “and therefore [Hashem] distanced leaven and honey from the offering for it doesn’t make sense to have a dichotomy in one subject, furthermore it would appear as if one is trying to purify himself with a creepy crawler in his hand, this is self-understood.”
It would seem, and it seems logical, that the meal offering should ideally have been made with chometz in order for it to be a more respectable offering. We even find two pesukim later that Rabbeinu Bachye explains the simple reason of why offerings were salted “because it would be unbefitting for a sacrifice to Hashem to be bland, without salt. The Torah is teaching us proper manners that the Kingdom in Heaven is like the kingdom on earth, and in this manner, ‘Were you to offer it to your governor’ (Malachi 1:8)?” In fact, the korban todah, the thanksgiving offering, which is an offering giving thanks and not given as atonement for sin, was indeed made out of chometz. Ideally, an offering fit for The King should be given in the nicest and choicest way possible. It is only because the yetzer hara is associated with chometz and honey that the Torah did not want any association with it for an offering used as an atonement. Rabbeinu Bachye illustrated this point with the example of the korban pesach, which was brought as an atonement for idolatry in Egypt. In fact, the Jews worshipped the lamb along with the Egyptians, so Hashem said to slaughter the lamb and eat it as a means of belittling and defaming the Egyptian god, and only matzah can be eaten with it, in order to not have even a tiny hint, not even one iota of an association with, the yetzer hara, in order to have no association whatsoever with the enticement of sin.

Why then does the Rabbeinu Bachye add that the reason for not having leaven and honey is in order to not have a dichotomy in one’s offering or to not be holding onto an impure object while trying to purify himself? It seems that that is the reason why these ingredients aren’t allowed, and not because in order to leave the sinful path that one was on by going to the extreme to distance himself from any spec of sin or evil inclination?

It would seem that the main issue of having chometz with one’s offering for atonement is not the association with sin and the evil inclination but rather the self-contradiction created in such a sacrifice. Whether it sends a message of a dichotomy or actually in a sense is a real physical contradiction, in any event, to harbor such a state even though it might look more respectful and honorable for The King, it is not the way Hashem wants us to live our lives.

The Paschal Lamb and matzah as well as every other sacrificial atonement made without chometz sends a message that we must live a life of harmony and consistency.

Click here for Audio or here for video of another Pre-Pesach message.

Torah Riddles Test #181

2.       Question:Why does the Noda BiYehuda hold that if a person dies on Pesach and he had not nullified or gotten rid of his chometz why is the chometz permitted after Pesach if the Rabbis decreed in general a fine for any chometz in the possession of someone during Pesach is forever forbidden after Pesach?


A.      The Mishna Berura (435:1:3) says that a father does not bequeath to his children prohibition, however the father owned it in a prohibitive state at the beginning of Pesach before he died.

B.      Hint: When does the fine go into effect?

Answer: The chometz is not forbidden because of the dead father because the fine only ges into effect after Pesach and since he died beforehand the fine wasn’t enacted on him, nor was it enacted on his children since they did not commit any sin. (See Dirshu Mishna Berura there, footnote 7)

Torah Riddles Test #179

1.    Question: What’s the difference between pillows and cushions which aren’t nullified to the Sukkah in order to make it less than 20 amos high since most people would not want to just nullify their pillow and cushions which are laying in the Sukkah but on Pesach we do say people would nullify chometz even though a lot of it could get expensive like pillows and cushions so most people wouldn’t for such a thing?


A. Granted there is a prohibition of owning chometz so you would want to nullify it but there is a mitzvah to live in a Sukkah so you’d want to fulfill it.

B. Nullifying is to treat it as the dust of the earth which a typical person would not want to do to his pillows and cushions so the same should apply to a lot of food.

C. The Torah really takes chometz out of your property but puts it back in to your possession to give you a sin but it’s not really yours until after Pesach.

 Answer: By chometz you don’t need the chometz itself to be like dust rather just in your eyes it’s like dust so that the Torah takes it out of your property and keeps it out so your knowledge isn’t nullified to everyone else’s. But by the pillows and cushions your attitude has to really be that they are like the dirt of the ground so that it will minimize the space of the height of the Sukkah therefore we say one thought is nullified to what the world would think and they would never treat them that way so the pillows and cushions cannot be nullified.

Torah Riddles Test #178

1.    Question: Why do the poskim say you are allowed to sell chometz with just money even though there is an argument whether you can even use money as a means of acquisition with a non-Jew or do you need to actually have him pick it up or push it, and since this is a money question and there is a question if money even works then chazaka should say that the food still belongs to the Jew and he is definitely violating owning chometz on Pesach?


A. The question of whether acquisition with money works with a non-Jew can be treated leniently in this case since the whole question is whether the food can be used after Pesach which is only a rabbinic issue since chometz left over Pesach is only prohibited after Pesach as a rabbinic fine. The problem is that this might not even be a question is the chezkas mamon can answer the question.

B. The gemara in the beginning of Pesachim says there are two things which don’t belong to a person but the Torah makes it as if it’s in your possession: Chometz found in your place on Pesach though the Torah nullifies it and a pit in the street if you undug it or opened it. The Torah just makes chometz in your possession yours in order to give you a prohibition of chometz on Pesach but you don’t actually own it.

C. The Pnei Yehoshua views the assumption of ownership for the original owner (chezkas Marie kamma) similar to the original assumed state of prohibition (chazaka dimi’ikara).

Answer: Chazaka dimi’ikara wouldn’t apply in this case because because the chometz is really taken out of your possession by the Torah on Pesach and the question is if it is put back in your possession as a new status, not as the original status or not, therefore we can be lenient and say it was in fact validly sold to the non-Jew and never went into your possession over Pesach. 

Passover – Giving of Yourself vs. Emulating Hashem

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This dvar Torah is part of a shmuz I heard from Rav Moshe Chait zt”l, Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshiva Chofetz Chaim Yerushalayim at around the beginning of the century.

Equivalent to the seventh day of Passover, by the splitting of the Red Sea, Klal Yisrael reached what is essentially the highest point of Holiness. They sang Shira [songs] to Hashem while crossing on dry land. In the Shira it says, “ זֶ֤ה אֵלִי֙ וְאַנְוֵ֔הוּ” which literally means, “This is my G-D and I will build Him a Sanctuary,” or “I will make myself into a G-dly sanctuary” (Shemos 15:2). This is the loftiest expression because they pointed and said “This is my G-D”. They had such a high level of emuna, belief in Hashem, that they were able to point at something. People recognize things with their senses, and the most realistic sense is sight, as they say, “seeing is believing.” The level they were on was above that because of their emuna [belief in Hashem].

What does אַנְוֵ֔הוּ refer to? The Gemara in Shabbos 133b goes through a list of mitzvos and says it comes from the word, נאה, to beautify the mitzvos. The gemara then quotes Abba Shaul who says they felt that they had to be comparable to Hashem, meaning they wanted to act like Hashem, just like a child wants to act like his parents, אני והוא.

The first view holds there is a level of a person who is putting a part of himself into doing a mitzvah. Abba Shaul is saying you should want to be just like Hashem which is a higher level.

The way Avraham found Hashem was not from a physical understanding of the world, but he saw the kindness that Hashem did in creating the world. Kindness is spiritual. This is how he came to recognize Hashem!

The truest love is trying to emulate someone else!

Click here for recording of Shmuz on Parshas Tzav with connecting to Passover and current events, im yirtzeh Hashem! The password to sign in is 3RmGSUNk.

Vayikra – Yearning for Meaning

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We find a very fascinating medrish at the end of this week’s Torah portion of Vayikra, that one can share at the Pesach Seder: “Rebbe Abba bar Kahana said that darkness (choshech vi’afela) was used in the land of Egypt for 3 days as it says, ‘and there was thick darkness over the entire land of Egypt for three days’ (Shemos 10:22). But void and desolation (tohu va’vohu) was not used in this world. Where will they be used in the future? In the great metropolis of Rome, as it says, ‘and He shall stretch over it a line of waste, and weights of destruction’ (Yeshayahu 34:11)” (Medrish Rabba Vayikra 6:6).

The Maharz”u explains that it appears from the medrish that since darkness (choshech vi’afela) was used there, then it must be that void and desolation (tohu va’vohu) will also be used at some point. This concept which is being alluded to by the medrish is that at the beginning of creation it writes, ‘Now the earth was astonishingly empty, and darkness was on the face of the deep’ (Breishis 1:2). The main part of creation started from tohu va’vohu and choshech (void, desolation, and darkness). Even though it says that light came forth from darkness and all of existence was brought forth from out of the tohu va’vohu, still in all this choshech and tohu va’vohu did not cease to exist. They were and still are yearning to be used in the world at the right time and place. We in fact see in many places that it says, ‘If the Jews accept the Torah that is good, if not I will revert the entire world back into tohu va’vohu.’ This is what is meant here; that choshech (darkness) found a place to be used in Egypt, but tohu va’vohu did not yet find a place to be used until in the future.”

The Etz Yosef adds that in the future Gog and his allies will be flanked with darkness, but will be preceded with tohu va’vohu, which is a green line that will surround the entire world which, from it darkness (choshech), will spread out into the world. (Click here and here for Hebrew text.)

The darkness that plagued Egypt in the 9th plague was no ordinary darkness; it was something that could be felt. It was so thick that the Egyptians froze and were not able to move for three days, as it says in Shemos Rabba 14:3. This darkness will come forth again in the future, emanating from a green substance of tohu va’vohu which will encompass the Metropolis of Rome, Gog and his allies, who don’t believe in Hashem and have their own line of worship.

Everything has a proper time and place to be used in this world. Nothing ever goes to waste and rather it is recycled; hopefully with excitement, at its designated time and place.

If you think about this a bit, there is something actually quite astonishing going on here. Hashem created the world out of these two substances, choshech and tohu va’vohu. They must have been pretty important to be used as the basis for the entire existence of this world. Yet the Maharz”u seems to hint that one might have thought that once they were done being used they would just have been thrown away and never used again, having lost a purpose for their further existence. Yet that wasn’t the case, and they are reserved for a special time and place which they are eagerly waiting for, to be used again. But if you look what they were used for it would seem highly disappointing. Both were or will be used in seemingly negative and destructive ways. The darkness was used for the 9th plague of Egypt, not even the first or the culminating tenth; rather in the middle, or really towards the end. Tohu va’vohu could have also been used to destroy the world if the Jewish people would not have accepted the Torah, and will be used against the heathens in the future who will not accept Hashem as One at The End of Days. What kind of jobs are those that they are yearning and eagerly waiting for, especially compared to the first position they ever had?

However the truth of the matter is these substances are just ingredients in doing Hashem’s will, and they realize that whatever Hashem wants them to be used for they are willing to do, and yearn for the opportunity to be used again.

All the more so, us human beings, whom the entire world was created for, we are the purpose of creation, and there are multiple roles that Hashem has given us to play in the history of this world. We have to be excited and eager to see how it plays out and to enthusiastically accept whatever roles they are. By realizing that they are jobs given to you by the Master Of The Universe, King Of All Kings, that will make it easier to yearn for the jobs and to wholeheartedly accept whatever comes your way and lands in your plate.

Torah Riddles Test #106

  1. Question: How does the Noda B’Yehuda differentiate between inheritance and a sale in regards to the mitzvah of not owning chometz?


A. Noda B’Yehuda (Mahadura Kamma Orach Chaim 20) writes that if one dies after the sixth hour and he did not sell or nullify his chometz, his inheritors don’t need to destroy it and it is permissible after Pesach since chometz is not property inherited by his children.

B. The Noda B’Yehuda (Mahadura Kamma 19) writes to answer for a Rambam in the first chapter of hilchos chometz and matzah that if it would not have been chometz it would belong to him therefore the pasuk of “bal yeraeh” should put it back into his possession on Pesach for the asking of attaining a prohibition, in a case of where a person buys chometz, which the halacha is he gets lashes, even though zechia, positive acquisition does not apply to object which are forbidden to get benefit from, but since the Torah reveals that it is his through the verse of “bal yeraeh” then it is considered money/property in regards to zechiah.

 C. Acquisitions work even when not yours like by stealing.

Answer: Chametz on Pesach is only yours in regards to prohibition so it cannot work to inherit because it’s not monetarily yours, and Hashem won’t automatically put it in your possession if you didn’t play any role to get it. But in regards to a sale since you can acquire things illegally like by stealing then you can acquire it in regards to only having a prohibition as well, since you actively tried getting it.

Torah Riddles Test #105

  1. Question: Why is getting rid of chometz more strict then performing a bris?


A. They both are punishments of kares if not done.

B. They both are considered transgressed every moment they aren’t fulfilled after the time to do the mitzvah has come, according to the Machatzis Hashekel.

C. There are two parts to every mitzvah (1) the mitzvah itself, (2) the obligation to fulfill the mitzvah itself. D. The mitzvah itself by chometz is to not have chometz in your possession. The mitzvah itself of milah is to perform the cut of the  milah just once.

Answer: By chometz, as long as you are not getting rid of your chometz you are transgressing the obligation of the mitzvah which is to get rid of the chometz and the mitzvah itself of not having chometz in your possession, but by milah you only transgress the mitzvah itself of not having the milah cut, but the obligation to actively cut the milah is not being transgressed it just has not been done yet.

Torah Riddles Test #104

  1. Question: According to the Ta”z what’s the difference between a slab of meat which you are unsure whether the unkosher fats and sinews were removed where we assume it was removed and a house before Pesach where you are unsure if it was checked and cleaned out of Chometz where we assume it was not checked?


  1. The Ta”z (Yoreh Deah 127:6) holds that if one is unsure whether a slab of meat had any unkosher fats and sinew taken from it or not we don’t assume it is forbidden because the meat itself wasn’t originally forbidden and the prohibition is just the unkosher fats and sinews, we are just worried that while eating the meat you might take a bite of the fat or sinew. Since what would be permissible after the removal was permissible the whole entire time just that it was mixed up with forbidden things therefore

 it is not considered to be assumed prohibition, ischazek isura.

B. The Shach in the Nekudas Hakesef argues there and holds that since originally it was forbidden to eat this piece of meat then its considered ischazek isura.

C. The Shev Shmaisa (6:5) explaining the view of the Shach says that he has to admit the meat is assumed permissible but it is also assumed to not have what’s forbidden removed. He brought a proof to this assumption from a Beis Yosef (Orach Chaim 437) that poskin by a house which we are unsure if it was checked from chometz is assumed to be unchecked. This means that granted the house itself is permissible but the chometz inside would be forbidden we still assume the house was unchecked.

D. The Rabbis enacted that the person living in the house has to check it for chometz.

E. People don’t have to eat meat.

Answer: The obligation is what triggers the assumption of being forbidden so because there is an obligation to check the house then we assume it is unchecked until we know it was checked but there is no obligation to eat meat so the assumption that the forbidden fats and sinews weren’t removed doesn’t kick in.

Torah Riddles Test #28

  1. Question: Rabbi Akiva Aiger asks and answers in his Responsa, first version, siman 30: Why do you make a blessing on separating Terumah even if done in one’s mind but a blessing is not said over bitul chometz, which can also be done in one’s mind?


A. The Mishna Berura 432:1:3 says that you don’t say the blessing of “al bitul chometz “ upon nullifying the chometz since the main part of the bitul is dependent on the heart and we don’t say blessings on matters that pertain to one’s heart or thoughts.

 B. After teruma is separated from fruit it is given to the kohen but in this case the teruma is separated in one’s mind and the blessing is goes on separating teruma, not the giving.

C. What is Rebbe Akiva Aiger’s answer?

Answer: The purpose of separating teruma is to give it to the kohen so even if it was separated in one’s thoughts it is as if he did something which has an action since in the end it will lead to an action, i.e. giving it to the kohen. But nullifying the chometz is completely done in one’s heart even if he verbally announces it to the world.