Mazel tov to Beth and Yehudah Honig on the birth last week and the bris early this morning of a grandson, born to their children Keren and Eyal Greenberg.
A belated mazel tov to Anne and Shelly Golombeck upon the birth of a grandson born to their children Lisa and Ben Lowy
Raboyseyee and Ladies:
What happened to the 613 mitzvois?
Welcome back to Sefer and Parshas Vayikra, try to contain your excitement. Back in 2012, the Oisvorfer gave you the spark notes version of parshas Vayikra, check it out. It’s time to once again learn about korbonois (sacrifices). Why, ver veyst?
Several decades ago, the Oisvorfer was a young impressionable bochur in the making who went to a small Yeshiva, err….many, in Brooklyn where he was introduced to the heylige Toirah. The Rebbe took out his shtekin, sometimes both if you chap, and said we would be learning Sefer Vayikra. Why start teaching this seemingly no longer relevant – at least not in our times- information to young impressionable kids, ver veyst? Why did this minhag (custom) still in practice in many chasiddishe yeshivas and which began hundreds of years back, take root? Ver veyst? Nu, who says you or I have to know or understand why? Do you chap why we suddenly need a klee shlishi when making tea on shabbis? Is it taka the case that the water is no longer boiling 3 seconds after one has poured the hot water from one glass into another and then into another? Give me a break! And do you chap how the chometz you will soon be selling to the goy but through the rabbi’s handkerchief (who avada makes a nice cut), is a legitimate transaction? Avada not; ober efsher one day, when according to some, the 3rd Beis Hamikdash (Temple) falls down from the sky (min hashomayim mamish), all this will become illuminated. Until then, ver veyst? The 3rd Beis hamkidash will fall from the sky? More on that below; halt zich eyn (kept your pants on) and if you don’t, there is or was a korban (sacrifice) to atone for this giferliche sin.
Asks the medrish (Yalkut Shimoni): “Why do young children start with Toiras Kohanim (aka: Vayikro)? Let them start with the great stories of Bireishis which include creation and a few very tantalizing mysehs (stories) about a number of very colorful characters. Avada you recall many of those, they were gishmak mamish. Ober the Yalkut has an answer and says: “since the korbonois are pure and the children are pure, let the pure come and deal with the pure.” What that means, ver veyst ober that’s what he says. And says the Avnei Azel: there is mamish a relationship between Sefer Vayikra and the education of children in that both require sacriﬁce. In this case, he was referring to the financial sacrifice parents make due to exorbitant Yeshiva tuitions. And that’s before tacking on registration fees, shabbatons, dinners, trips, tissues and myriad other fees all meant to gouge the parents. Sefer Vayikra, according to his thinking, teaches parents as well as children the value of sacriﬁces for Toirah purposes. Of course these lessons are aroisgivorfini gelt (money in the toilet) on hyntige kinderlach (today’s kids); they’re busy thinking deciding if they should have sushi, pizza or a $10 salad for lunch.
In any event, while the Beis Hamikdash was operational, Yiddin used to bring Korbonois to the RBSO. The details of these sacrifices will take us through the first 19 or so perokim (chapters) of Vayikra and therein, with great specificity, the heylige Toirah will delineate every detail of the various korbonois that individuals could voluntarily bring. Do you really care if an individual elects to bring a Korban Oilah from cattle, sheep or turtledoves? Mistama not ober the heylige Toirah dedicates quite a bit of space to Korbonois in this book of Vayikra and in others. Mistama there’s a good reason. Exactly what that reason is, ver veyst?
Ober are korbonois not extinct? Have you seen a mizbayach (altar) anywhere recently? The Beis Hamikdash is long gone and though we avada yearn and eagerly await its return, seemingly that’s still some time away. Why? Because the Moshiach is not here and according to many, maybe even most, we are not supposed to build one until his arrival. Moreover, some suggest that even with its arrival, we will still not get to build the 3rd and final Beis Hamikdash. Instead, it will, as mentioned above, fall from the sky completely built, adorned and decorated. It will? More on that below. Having a hard time believing such a possibility? Are you questioning the RBSO’s abilities, minuvil that you are? And why don’t we taka have one today? Seemingly the RBSO doesn’t think we are deserving, are we? And when will he arrive? Shoin, we’re taught that the Yiddin need to observe the heylige shabbis for two consecutive weeks or, if that’s not possible, at least refrain from speaking loshoin horo. Nu, it’s perfectly clear: he’s not coming anytime soon! Ober, given these restrictions, can he ever come? When was the last time you saw two or more Yiddin together in a room without loshoin horo? When? Never! Nowadays, due to the terrible sins and behavior of our ancestors, some of them anyway, we no longer have the Beis Hamikdash. In fact, the Yiddin haven’t been able to bring sacrifices since its (the Second Temple) destruction in 70 CE.
Says the heylige Gemora (Yoma 4a) azoy: we taka learn a lesson about loshoin horo from the very first posik in this week’s Parsha: “He called to Moishe, and G-d spoke to him from the tent of meeting, saying” (Vayikra 1:1). Says the heylige Gemora that we derive from the word ‘saying’ that if someone tells another person something in confidence, he is not allowed to repeat it without permission of the information provider. Shoin, another avayro most of you violate daily if not more often; oy vey! Efsher you recall the Oisvorfer teaching you a loophole around this prohibition: instead of repeating the loshoin horo which is zicher and avada verboten, one can simply just say it over once thereby avoiding the entire sin of repeating. Mamish gishmak. Ober if a person does repeat the information without permission, he transgressed the prohibition of ‘not saying.’ Although most mitzvah counters do not include this prohibition in their 613 count, some do. There is some good news: violating a ‘no saying’ doesn’t epes seem as giferlich as violating a ‘no doing’, if you chap.
Will the 3rd Beis Hamikdash mamish fall out of the sky? Nu, as you can imagine, that statement was vigorously debated in the 19th century, when Rav Tzvi Hirsch Kalinscher strongly urged that an effort be made to begin offering certain Korbanois. Ober he took some serious heat and mistama a few dozen rocks thrown at him and his windows from a healthy number of other great authorities of his time including Rav Akiva Eiger, Rav Yaakov Ettlinger, Rav Moishe Sofer and others. Said Rashi and Toisfis (Sukkah 41a) citing the Midrash azoy: the 3rd Bais Hamikdash will not be built by human hands but will miraculously land from Shomayim (Heaven) as a fully built edifice. Ober said the Rambam (Hilchois Beis Habechira 1:1) azoy: the 3rd Beis Hamikdash will be built by human hands. As an aside, he also writes (Hilchois Melachim 11:1) that Moshiach will build the Beis Hamikdash. Which is it? Ver veyst? On the other hand………
says the Mishna (Eydis 8:6): Omar Rabbi Yehoshua Shamati azoy: Af Al Pi She’ain Bayis (even though there is no Beis hamikdash), Korbanois may be offered even in the absence of the Beis Hamikdash.
And this coming shabbis as the baal koirah (reader) is making his way through the parsha and if you happen to be listening, you might be asking yourself or your chaver these questions: Ershtens, do we really need to know this topic and many other Mishkan and Beis Hamikdash related topics? Are they not obsolete? Are they ever coming back? And how does their loss affect the taryag (613) mitzvois that the heylige Toirah contains? Did the heylige Toirah’s commandments slim down to a more manageable number? Speaking of 613 mitzvois, this past shabbis, a reader approached and told the Oisvorfer he mamish enjoys the weekly reviews but is especially pleased when it includes a few statistics. Shoin, for you my chaver…….here we go. It’s emes:The 613 number has been significantly reduced and soon we’ll see by how many and why. While most of us know that we began with 613 mitzvois, (248 do’s, and 365 don’ts), it is less widely known just how many remain active and relevant in our time, especially outside of the Promised Land and in times when the Temple no longer stands.
Let’s answer a few of these questions; others will be addressed way below. We begin with Exhibit #1: because we cannot bring korbonis, all mitzvois related to them are gone and with them, as many as 40% of the 613 mitzvois in the gantze Toirah. Mamish? Indeed it’s sadly so. Bazman hazeh (in our times) here in golus (exile), we don’t have the full 613 mitzvois. Fartig! And just how many do we have? Nu, let’s count. We began with 613 mitzvois, (248 dos, and 365 don’ts). Ober we lost the Beis Hamikdash and all the korbonois; the number has been dramatically reduced. Of the 248 positive commands, only 126 currently apply. And of the 365 negative commands, only 243 are still in force. Shoin, nowadays, we’re down to 369 operative mitzvois and keeping the Toirah should be dramatically easier. Nonetheless, you continue with your chazerish behavior. Grada that’s not such good news because statistically speaking, violating one of the ah-says or loi- sah-says is percentage-wise much worse than before and zicher the RBSO, when looking over your stats, will not be very happy with your behavior, chazir that you are.
In other words: there are 122 fewer positive mitzvois to observe (248-126=122), and also 122 fewer loi sah says (thou shall nots) to keep (365-243=122). And in total, there are 244 fewer mitzvois in our day-to-day lives. Says the Shelah hakoidish (he, the author of a prayer for parnoso (money))azoy: 244 is bigimatryia (has the same numerical value) as does the Hebrew word, מרד, which means to rebel. And? This alludes to the fact that it was because of our “rebelliousness” that we were exiled from our land, and that our Temple was destroyed. Shoin: may it be speedily rebuilt! But wait, there’s more: Even among the 369, there are a good number that most of us will never observe properly or worse, violate. Why? Because a number of these are circumstance dependent meaning that they are only performed in certain situations and absent of those specific circumstances, they do not apply. The bottom line: there are, according to many, only 270 precepts that every Jew is required to observe, without any particular circumstance ever having to come about.
Ober not to worry: our Sages concerned about the loss of the various korbonis that the RBSO set forth for (according to the rabbis) various indiscretions or for other reasons, and the mitzvois that they were attached to, came up with a replacement plan. They established davening (prayers) and fixed the daily prayers to correspond to the number of regular, daily sacrifices that were offered in the Temple, thus offering somewhat of a substitute for the Temple service.
Some say that when we learn these laws yearly as we will this coming shabbis, we, on a spiritual level, get credit as if we had actually performed them. One Chassidus sefer explains that all the precepts are operative even nowadays except that they work differently. Limoshol (by way of example), by not capitulating to the demands of our “animal soul,” our base instincts, if you chap, we offer the “animal” within ourselves to the RBSO. Veyter….
The RBSO zicher told Moishe all about these strange rituals ober didn’t really tell him why? We got the manual, the grizzly detailed instructions but were epes never told why we bring these. And what do you suppose happened as a result? For centuries to come, beginning with the Rishoinim, our Sages and other luminaries have argued vehemently about ‘why’. Let’s see what the fuss is all about. First up- a machloikes (dispute) between the RAMBAM and the RambaN and it got heated. Let’s see:
Nu- let’s start with basics: Ershtens, what are they? Korbonois were offered in a variety of settings by Yiddin going back all the way to Kayin and Hevel. In fact, it was a korban that led to the first ever recorded murder in the gantze Toirah. Our Zeydes (forefathers), when aroused to do so, also brought Korbonois to thank the RBSO for whatever. Odom brought Korbonois as did Noiach, Sheim, Avrohom, Yitzchok and Yaakov. Even bad guys including Bilam and Bolok, in their quest to win the RBSO’s approval to curse the Yiddin, brought Korbonois.
In short, the Rambam is of the opinion that korbanois were commanded as a response to the cultural trend, most prevalent in Egypt at that time, of ritually slaughtering animals. He explains that the Yiddin had become accustomed to this practice and would have had a very difficult time coping with a religion that did not offer sacrificing as a form of worship. Therefore, the RBSO commanded us to bring animal offerings in order to curb our yetzer horohs (evil inclination). By bringing a korban to the RBSO, the one and only true G-d, we demonstrate our firm rejection of these beliefs in other deities. In other words, the RBSO knew that the Yiddin were a bunch of fickle unstable people who could easily fall prey to idol worship and created Korbonois to help the oisvorf Yiddin channel these desires. Not a terrible p’shat but boring! Abarbanel, in his introduction to Sefer Vayikra, defends the Rambam’s position and claims that it is in fact anchored in Midrashic and Talmudic literature.
The RambaN says this makes no sense at all and sharply criticizes the Rambam’s theory. Instead he offers a hypothesis of his own that spices things up somewhat. Halt kup (pay attention- it’s worth your time). Since the acts of man are comprised of thought, speech, and action, G-d Commands that when an individual sins and brings an animal sacrifice, a) s/he should rest his/her hands upon its head—corresponding to the sinful action that precipitated this expiation, b) s/he should confess what s/he did wrong—thereby atoning for the speech that contributed to the transgression, c) s/he should recognize that the innards and kidneys being burnt in the altar’s fire represents the need for atonement on the part of the seat of all human thought and passion, d) the burning of the animal’s limbs corresponds to the need for atonement for the hands and feet of the sinning individual since these limbs carry out all of his/her activity, and e) the casting of the sacrifice’s blood upon the altar should bring the phrase to mind, ‘his blood will be on his soul.’ f) A person by either doing or watching all of these actions will come to realize that s/he has sinned against G-d with his/her body and his/her soul, and that s/he deserves his/her own blood to be applied and his/her body to be burned, had it not been for the Compassion of the Creator, Who Has Accepted a substitute.
Ok that was a mouthful, what did he really mean? Let’s chazzir (review): The RambaN, says azoy: The whole point of the korban is that a person (like yourself by way of a good example) should feel that everything done to the animal being sacrificed should really be done to him or her (you). He should feel as if his blood should be spilled and his limbs should be burned, but the RBSO, in His ultimate mercy, agrees to accept the animal as a substitute. Great system! You minvullim and chazerrim (swine) taka sin with every limb of your bodies and the innocent animal who didn’t lust for his friend’s wife and zicher didn’t have forbidden relations with her, is nebech slaughtered at the altar. I was always wondering why the RBSO created animals: what a relief!! Avada this concept makes much more sense as you chazerrim know only too well that you deserve to be slaughtered like pigs; nu- the RBSO is great.
Many commentators agree with the RambaN and note that one was supposed to realize that really he should be the one getting slaughtered during the services. This would cause one to have fear in Hashem which would eventually lead to teshuva (repentance). Therefore, we were forgiven for our sins through the korbanois.
Another practical explanation I came across says that the only reason that the RBSO instructed us to bring and offer Korbonois is so that the lazy Koihanim who had no other skills or crafts (back then) but working in the Beis Hamikdash, could earn a few dollars. They of course had plenty to eat and mistama took a few bribes to move the poor sinners ahead on the Korban line…nu…what can you do? And just like the magnificent RBSO created many industries as we have studied together in Sefer Shemois, here in Vayikro, He’s busy with the Koihanim and wants to make sure they didn’t become a bunch of schnorrers ringing your bell every Sunday (5 at a time out of one car) and created this entire system. This way, they could mamish dedicate themselves to their Avoida (jobs) in the Temple service. Makes sense and also a practical p’shat.
The Maharal of Prague perceives the sacrificial rite, with its intimations of mortality, as a fundamental reflection of the inconsequentiality of all creatures in the face of G-d’s greatness. Nothing exists in the world except as a result of G-d’s kindness and munificence. I don’t know what he’s saying but it can’t hurt to give the Maharal a plug; besides, I love Prague.
Let’s try another: some say that the Korbanois system was created so that sinners who had to bring a Korban would feel the pinch in their pockets. Unfortunately, it was some other pinching in their pockets that got them into trouble to begin with. Avada it’s well known that the imposition of fines and penalties is supposed to deter sinning. The sinner will realize that his wayward ways are getting too costly and get back on the right path. And for this reason, wealthy sinners had to bring a more expensive korban while the schlepper sinners got away with a lesser korban. In other words: a poor sinner could commit bigger sins and pay less: gevaldig! Numerous other approaches to the concept of korbanois are offered within traditional Jewish literature however none of them were too humorous, hence they will not be mentioned here.
And for the ladies……… great news! The RBSO did not forget about you and created certain korbonois just for you The veyber may bring a Korban Chatos an Ashamois Chatos (sin) and ashamois (guilt) offerings in atonement for transgressions and unintentional errors. Do women ever sin? Nu, specific examples of such giferliche avayrois included: not taking care of your husband’s regularly, feigning headaches if you chap, not taking care of him at all, not wearing sexy clothing to the bedroom, and myriad other such examples. There are of course others and we’ll cover them in the weeks to come.
The bottom line is: while the individual decides whether or not to offer a sacrifice, the Toirah sets forth the details of how each offering is to be prepared. Though not obligatory, were a person aroused to give such an offering, he fulfilled the Mitzvah and was considered highly praiseworthy. If he was otherwise aroused, if you chap, and committed a few no-nos, there were other Korbonois tailor made for the sinner. Obviously, there were plenty of those. Exactly how sending an innocent animal to slaughter can offer forgiveness for one’s chotoim (sins), ver veyst? Seemingly it worked and epes it wouldn’t be such a giferliche idea to think about investing in cattle if you chap, especially so if you are a sinner, and especially an aroused one.
A gitten shabbis-
The Oisvorfer Ruv