Parshas Metzora/Shabbos Hagadol 5757 - 1997
Outline # 32
The Chametz (leavening agent and leavened product) alludes to impurities. The Chasom Sofer explained:
The Kohanim should have had chametz in their sacrificial food, because the Torah is not given to angels. However, the verses say that Hashem gave the Kohanim from His portion -- and there is no chametz allowed on the altar. The Kohain's food is thus specially charged with sanctity.
We have referred several times to his commentary, that the first of the four questions can be understood as follows:
"Why does the Todah (thanksgiving offering) include chametz and matza
every day, but upon eating the Pesach Todah, we only find matza?"
The Chasom Sofer himself answered this question in Toras Moshe, parshas Tzav. "The bread couldn't rise before the Holy One revealed Himself, and redeemed them. The Table On High, from which we partook, allows no chametz..."
These words are esoteric; our understanding is as follows:
1. The thanksgiving sacrifice involves two elements: The sacrifice upon the altar, and the meal of thanks, eaten at home. The part for the altar has no chametz; at home, however, loaves of chametz are eaten.
2. At Pesach in Egypt, our homes were our altars. There was no sanctuary as yet; there was no special place for the offerings, so the Pesach sacrifice was slaughtered at home, its blood dashed on the doorposts and lintel, instead of the altar. On this night we were the Kohanim, and our food came from G-d's portion. Our tables were His tables. The altar cannot accept chametz...
Pesach occurred before Torah was given. The Levites were not yet chosen for any special duties. The sons of Aharon had not been singled out for the services. Who offered the sacrifice? Who were the Kohanim? Each house had their own... We were the Kohanim.
"You will be for Me a Kingdom of Kohanim, and a Holy People..." (Shmos [Exodus] 19:6)
Pesach commemorates that pre-Torah state of chosen-ness, where all of Israel were selected for the services. It was the blood of the services -- from each Jewish household -- which precipitated the miracle of the death of the firstborn sons of Egypt, and the Jews' salvation.
It is important to note that at the receiving of the Torah, in a state of fear, the people asked to withdraw. Only Moshe would proceed. The fear of further revelation held the people back from direct prophecy. Now they would need agents -- the prophets -- to intercede. Later, due to the incident of the Golden Calf, the tribe of Levi was given special distinctions.
The Pesach Seder reminds us that prayer -- which substitutes in place of sacrifices -- and Torah -- open to all -- can make each person great. We can each become as holy as the Kohanim; on this night, it is as if we are eating the sacrificial food from Hashem's altar.
Rabbi Yaakov Bernstein
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Spring Valley, NY 10977
Text Copyright © 1997 Rabbi Yaakov Bernstein and Project Genesis, Inc.
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Last Revision: January 27, 1997