Time To Sell Your Chomatze
This week we begin with an admission: The Oisvorfer’s review of Parshas Tzav is a repeat -with a few edits and one or two new thoughts- of what was written in 2015. And why is that? Because he is busy, as are many a rabbi this and next week taking care of the immediate halachic and business needs of his constituents. In plain English: the Oisvorfer is now an authorized ‘michiras chomatze’ agent. More on that a number of paragraphs below.
Shoin: though we’ll be reading parshas Tzav this coming shabbis, a parsha which is wholly but not entirely a repeat of parshas Vayikra and a parsha that sermonically challenges even the most prolific of rabbis, lucky for them it’s also shabbis hagodol, the big shabbis just before Pesach and they don’t typically focus much on Tzav. Besides they are way too focused on their seasonal but burgeoning business of mechiras chometz (selling your chometz). Seemingly, even the sages of the heylige Gemora and the ancient Medrish struggled to glean meaning from these arcane verses. And it’s not easy for the Oisvorfer to maintain focus in this, his eighth time around this parsha. Ober the Oisvorfer is content and even a shtikel excited. Why? Because Pesach is mamish around the corner and because this year, he decided to go into a new business, one littered with competition from other rabbis who look forward to this week all year round. The Oisvorfer has decided to become a michiras chomatze agent and is now accepting various forms of payment (cash preferred), including checks, credit cards, Bitcoin, ICOs (Initial Coin Offerings) and any and all other forms of payment available on and through the heylige Internet. What does the agent do? Not much: he does though charge a vig which is typically, though not always, paid in cash. And since most constituents appear in person, and believing such meeting will curry favor with the rabbi, and that he will speak glowingly about them at their next simcha, they tend to overpay. Let’s fargin them: why not? Rabbis work hard all year dealing with constituents; they deserve a little pocket money. Nonetheless, with hundreds of thousands of followers all over the world in need of such services, there is no reason for the Oisvorfer to be left out of this burgeoning gisheft created by our sages in order for local rabbis of each community to make a few extra dollars while be mikayame (upholding) a mitzvah.
Last week we sadly concluded that based on unabated loshoin horo and the inability of the Yiddin to keep the heylige shabbis for two consecutive weeks, the Moshiach was not coming anytime soon. That being the case, why will we spend another shabbis talking about korbonis (sacrifices)? Because the RBSO did just that in parshas Tzav and if the RBSO didn’t find the subject boring, neither should we. Shoin erleydigt (settled). On the other hand, if you don’t feel like going to shul, that’s quite alright because a more boring parsha you’d be hard pressed to find in the gantze Toirah. Of course we’re only kidding; zicher every word in the gantze Toirah is special and heylig and if the RBSO decided to give us more details in this week’s parsha about the Korbonois we covered in last week’s, you can rest assured that He had good reasons. What those are, is none of our business. Let’s quickly chazir a few pearls we mined in previous reviews of this parsha, a few new thoughts, and then by popular demand from hundreds of Oisvorfer followers and because Pesach is but eight days away, early next week you’ll receive the Oisvorfer’s review on the sale of chometz.
Is it my imagination or does it epes appear that many of the korbonis had some sexual overtones? Back in 2011 we came across the amazing Mishne (Ovois 5:5) which says azoy: “Ten miracles were performed for our forefathers in the Holy Temple: No woman ever miscarried because of the smell of the holy meat. The holy meat never spoiled. Never was a fly seen in the slaughterhouse. Never did the koihen godol (High Priest) have an accidental seminal discharge on Yom Kippur. The rains did not extinguish the wood-fire burning upon the altar. The wind did not prevail over the column of smoke [rising from the altar]. No disqualifying problem was ever discovered in the Oimer offering, the Two Loaves or the Showbread. They stood crowded but had ample space in which to prostate themselves. Never did a snake or scorpion cause injury in Yerusholayim. And no man ever said to his fellow “My lodging in Yerusholayim is too cramped for me.”
That’s quite a list and it should come as no surprise that we yearn for its rebuilding. Ober did you read that fourth miracle? It took a miracle for the koihen not to have an accidental seminal emission while in the holy temple and performing the avoido? What the hec was he doing in there with those animals or other koihanim? Moreover, if the Mishna goes out of its way to tell us that koihen never experienced a seminal discharge on Yom Kippur, are we to epes conclude that efsher maybe the Koihanim did suffer from seminal emissions on other days of the year? Ver veyst and what’s pshat in this Mishna? Nu, something’s up, or was, if you chap, if the mishna goes out of its way to mention that this was taka a miracle. What could have induced such emissions, ver veyst?
And in 2012, we reviewed this posik (VaYikra 6:3) “And the Kohain shall put on his linen vestments and the linen pants he shall wear over flesh. And he shall lift the ashes of the burnt offering, consumed by the fire, that are on the altar. And he shall place them by the altar.” Says Rebbe Shimon: that the Kohain must wear all four of the priestly garments for ‘trumas hadeshen’ (removal of the garbage), and the Toirah emphasizes the tunic and pants. Why? Because the tunic atones for murder, and the pants atone for illicit relations. Why a koihen who had illicit relations was in charge, ver veyst but who are we to judge? Maybe the others were worse? On the other hand, now we can chap the Mishna we learned in 2011. Efsher a miracle was taka required so that the Kohain didn’t have an emission during the Avoida, ver veyst.
And new for this year………In parshas Tzav we will learn more detail about the korban known as the ‘Oshom’ (the guilt offering). We will also meet the korban Chatos, the sin offering. Who brought a korban Oshom? Seemingly a great many and there were six kinds of Oshoms. Five of them, were brought for very specific transgressions and the sixth, as we will see below, was perhaps the most interesting of all. One, the Oshom Gezeilos was brought by someone who denied having in his possession money that belonged to his friend. Of course this was the most popular, mistama brought every day! The Oshom Me’ilos was brought by someone who inadvertently derived benefit from Hekdesh (declared holy); the Oshom Shifchah Charufah was brought by a man who had relations with a shifchah (slave-girl) who was at the time half set-free and who was betrothed to a Jewish servant. Sounds complicated ober if the heylige Gemora tells us about this korban, we have to imagine that there were people who needed to bring this particular korban. The Osham Nozir was brought by a Nozir who became tomei meis during the duration of his nezirus and the Oshom Metzoira was brought by a Metzoira when he was cured from his tzora’as (leprosy). The sixth Oshom, the Oshom Tolui, was brought by someone who was unsure whether he did or didn’t sin. This was a true guilt offering. Had he sinned mamish, he would have been required to bring the Korban Chatos, the sin offering. Were he innocent, he needn’t bring any korban but he wasn’t sure. And because he seemingly felt pangs of guilt or maybe because he was in a position where he may have sinned, or maybe because he had intentions of sinning or maybe was thinking about the sin itself, if you chap, he was required to bring the Oshom, the guilt offering. Though you care little about this particular korban, it’s avada interesting to note that the korban Oshom vtalui (talui meaning he is unsure) was extremely unique. Chazal give us an example of a person who needed to bring this korban by telling us of the person who had in front of him two pieces of meat, one kosher and one treif (no kosher). He ate one but didn’t know which. This person was obligated in the korban of asham talui. And the lesson? Shoin, when it comes to meat, having and zicher eating one piece at a time is enough. And when presented with 2 pieces, if you chap, one should avada know which is kosher and which is not. Certainly there are life lessons in this offering, if you chap. This person needs to bring a guilt offering just in case. Finally, were it determined or with certainty, or if he got chapped eating the wrong meat and notwithstanding the fact that he already brought a guilt offering or jewelry to assuage his guilt, he would still have been required to bring a korban chatos, the sin offering.
Speaking of the sin offering, it wasn’t for everyone and may not have been for you had you been around when the Beis Hamikdash was standing and had you sinned while standing, if you chap. Who was obligated? Generally speaking, anyone who transgressed a La’av (negative prohibition) which carried with it as a punishment the chiyuv Korace (excision), was obliged to bring a korban Chatos Beheimah. Was it that easy to seek atonement? Not always! And only if the sinner transgressed be’shoigeg (inadvertently), that is without realizing the severity of what he was doing. And says the Sefer Hachinuch azoy: There are 43 such la’avin, and wouldn’t you be surprised to hear that most of them are connected with incest and forbidden relationships. OMG! How a person could be involved with accidental incest, ver veyst. And taka says the Shem Mishmuel azoy: the Chatos is brought to atone for a sin committed accidentally. An accident consists of one forgetting that the action was a sin or the person not realizing that what he was doing was wrong. Ober shtetl zich de shaylo (the question arises) azoy: why would the RBSO cause an innocent person to commit an inadvertent sin such as chapping from a close enough relative that it is deemed incest? And why would He cause a person to sin inadvertently with one of their other forbidden relationships we will be learning about in a few more weeks? Is the sinner being set-up by the RBSO? Maybe so!
Ober he answers so gishmak azoy: if one accidentally violates a transgression, especially one of those listed above, the RBSO was sending him a message. Seemingly the sinner….the accidental sinner, had an improper mindset. In the recesses of his mind he fantasized transgressing the aveyro, or, at a minimum, he did not distance himself adequately from the sin. Does this scenario epes ring familiar, chazir that you are? Although he did not actually do the act, his thoughts were worthy of punishment. Therefore the RBSO caused him to accidentally transgress the sin so that he would bring the Korban and repent from his improper thoughts. Shoin, now you can see why it’s quite likely that the chatos offering was the most popular of all offerings. Raboyseyee, let’s get real: who among us hasn’t epes had a few such thoughts, chas v’sholom –say it’s not so please- and chazir that you are!
And this coming Yom, Kippur when you beat your chests and state that you are guilty of those transgressions for which you would be obligated to bring the korban Chatos (“FOR SINS THAT OBLIGATE US TO BRING A SIN OFFERING”) you’ll know just what to visualize. Shoin!
Ober there is good news: not all sins required the Chatos offering. Says Rashi azoy: To qualify…….. “Our Sages taught: A sin offering is brought only for a matter whose punishment, if committed intentionally, would be korase.” And those are….
- The sin is performed bishoigage (unintentionally). The bimayzed sinner (the knowingly sinner) cannot achieve atonement through the korban, nor is he permitted to bring one.
- The sin involves an act. A sin that does not involve an action does not require a sin offering.
- The sin is committed against “any of the RBSO’s mitzvois, things that should not be done” – i.e., the person has transgressed a negative command. A sin offering is not brought for failing to fulfill a positive command.
In the end, the chatos offering was meant to purify the relationship between the RBSO and the person who had unintentionally committed a sin so grave that, had it been committed with intention, it would have constituted grounds for the most serious punishment that exists between man and the RBSO. This punishment is korase, excision, a punishment that is applied by the RBSO. Sins that involve only punishment at the hands of the court, with no korase, are apparently an offense principally against society, and therefore the obligation of atonement through a sin offering does not apply to a person who commits them unintentionally.
Shoin, that wraps up our review of korbonis for this year; let’s talk inyoney diyomo (something more topical). And what’s pressing this week? The myriad email blasts hitting the Inbox daily from our shuls and other enterprising organizations reminding us that our rabbis will be available to represent us in one of the most fascinating transactions you will ever enter into. In this business arrangement, you will be the seller, some unsuspecting goy will be the buyer and your local rabbi will be your agent. Shoin! Unfortunately, no matter how large your chometz estate may be and no matter how many bottles of expensive scotch or wine you have collected over the years, you won’t be seeing much in the form of net proceeds; in fact, you won’t see any at all. The rabbi will avada make out like a bandit. It’s not all bad because come 45 minutes after Pesach is over, in Houdini style fashion, the entire sale will be reversed. The sham contract, according to at least some, you entered into will be nullified, the chometz you sold but did not deliver, will be yours again and life will be back to normal. All back to normal except that the money you paid your rabbi to be your agent, is not refundable or reversible. Nu, rabbis too, need to supplement their parnosa (livelihood). Do you think it’s easy for a rabbi to make ends meet on few hundred thousand dollars of salary and other perks?
And by this time next week, a handful of lucky and handpicked goyim who are either friendly with the rabbi or live near the shul or are perhaps the shul’s custodians – some without a green card and working papers -will take control of hundreds of millions dollars worth of chometz and even real estate. For eight plus day these lucky few will be the proud owners of your liquor collection, your freezer, and maybe even of your entire apartment, house, co-op and even cars. The unsuspecting goyim will be taking on financial obligations they cannot possibly meet by the contract deadline (30-45 minutes after Pesach is over) and taka, come deadline time, they will taka be relinquishing control of the acquired assets and shoin, everything will revert back to normal.
The great chometz sale for 2018 has begun in earnest. Yiddin en masse, eager not to violate the prohibition of owning or seeing any chometz and in anticipation of Pesach at home or on the road, have been flocking to their favorite rabbi who gets to act as their chometz sale agent.
We close out this week’s review where we began. With a pitch: You need to sell your chomatze to your local rabbi who then enters into some agreement with some goy in order to effectuate the sale. Why not use the Oisvorfer? He is surrounded by qualified goyim (gentiles), if you chap all day. Moreover, he can easily keep an eye on them to make sure they don’t run off with your chomatze.
A gittin Shabbis-
The Heylige Oisvorfer Ruv