Posted on March 9, 2011 (5771) By Rabbi Yochanan Zweig | Series: | Level:


The Talmud cites the verse “The stability of your time and the strength of salvation is wisdom and knowledge”, [1] interpreting it as referring to the Shisha Sidrei Mishna, six Orders of the Mishna. Each concept in the verse reflects one Order of the Mishna. “Chochmah” – “wisdom” represents Kodshim, the Order which discusses the laws pertaining to the Korbanos, offerings[2]. In his commentary on the Talmud, Rashi explains the connection between each concept in the verse and its corresponding Order[3]. However, he fails to give an explanation for the relationship between wisdom and the offerings.

In Mishlei, Shlomo Hamelech teaches that if a person rebukes a “chacham” – wise man, the chacham will come to love him[4]. Why does the wise man appreciate criticism? Chachmah, wisdom is the tool which a person employs in order to understand his responsibilities in this world. Therefore, if a chacham’s ways are corrected, he appreciates the criticism, for it allows him to have a greater understanding of his responsibilities.

There are three classifications of a person’s state of awareness during the violation of a transgression: “meizid” – a deliberate transgression, “shogeig” – an inadvertent transgression, and “o’ness” – a transgression which is beyond a person’s control to prevent. Each level of awareness carries its own responsibilities.

An offering is required only for an inadvertent act. Therefore, the responsibility to bring an offering falls solely upon the perpetrator of the transgression, for he alone knows what his state of awareness was at the time of the transgression. Furthermore, unlike other Torah liabilities, witnesses are not required to create responsibility. Consequently, the entire Korban process is dependent upon the level of responsibility which the individual has for himself. To the extent that he is a chacham, i.e. has a sense of responsibility for himself, the offerings will be meaningful. For this reason, the entire Order of Kodshim is defined by the quality within a person required to facilitate the effectiveness of the laws within the Order.

1.Yeshaya 33:6
2.Shabbos 31a

Close Call

“He called to Moshe…”(1:1)

The name given to a Sefer, a book of the Torah or a parsha, a Torah portion defines its essence. How does the name “Vayikra” – “and He called” reveal the inner meaning of the third book of the Torah?

The word “vayikra” is written with a miniature aleph to make it appear as if the word is “vayikar”. The Ba’al Haturim explains that when Hashem appears to Bilam, the Torah uses the word “vayikar” – “happened to come upon him”, implying that theirs was not an ongoing loving relationship. When Hashem appears to Moshe, the Torah uses the word “vayikra” – “He called”, indicating Hashem’s affinity for Moshe. Out of humility, Moshe requested that Hashem leave out the aleph so that the same expression used regarding Hashem’s revelation to Bilam would be used regarding Moshe. Hashem compromised and instructed Moshe to record the aleph in a miniature form[1].

This is not the first time that “vayikra” is utilized to describe Hashem addressing Moshe. At the Burning Bush the verse states “Vayikra eilav Elokim” – “Hashem called to him”[2] and at the Sinaitic revelation the words used are “Vayikra eilav Hashem” – “Hashem called to him[3].” Why does Moshe not request that the aleph be removed on these occasions?

Sefer Vayikra depicts and elaborates upon the various offerings brought in the Tabernacle. The term used to refer to an offering is “Korban”. This is the first time this term is used to define an offering. Although many offerings had been brought prior to the occurrences within Sefer Vayikra, the term “Korban” had never been used. How do we explain this phenomena?

Rashi explains that the term “vayikra” – “and He called” refers to the sounding of the “kol Hashem” – “voice of Hashem” which was present at the Sinaitic revelation[4]. The word “kol”, literally “sound” is different than “dibur” – “speech”; “dibur” is the articulation of words which leave a person’s mouth and travel to the listener’s ear, while “kol” is the sound emitted which does not require articulation. A person’s feelings and emotions are contained within the very sounds he emits. A scream is an example of a kol; articulation is not required to convey the meaning. When employing kol, a person is giving over of himself, his own essence to the listener.

Hashem relating to Moshe with kol denotes the highest level of communion. This is evident from the fact that Hashem’s presence in the Garden of Eden is referred to as kol, as in the Sinaitic revelation. The Ramban goes to great lengths to explain how the construction of the Tabernacle was a reenactment of the Sinaitic revelation[5]. The closeness of Hashem’s presence found at Sinai was duplicated in the Tabernacle. However, whereas at Sinai all of Bnei Yisroel were on an elevated level which allowed them to hear the kol, following the sin of the Golden Calf this level no longer existed and only Moshe was able to relate to Hashem’s kol. It is at the point where Moshe can relate to Hashem’s kol while the rest of Bnei Yisroel cannot, that his humility is evoked. At the Burning Bush this difference between Moshe and the rest of Bnei Yisroel was unnoticeable, for they were not present. Similarly, at Sinai, where everyone heard the kol, this difference did not present itself.

Although Bnei Yisroel were not able to maintain the kol relationship in the Tabernacle, Hashem’s presence allowed for another form of closeness. A new dimension regarding the bringing of an offering was introduced, the aspect of “Korbanos”. The term “Korban” is derived from the word “karov” – “close” for it reflects the ability to come close to Hashem by means of an offering. For the first time, Bnei Yisroel were able to bring offerings in a manner which expressed the notion that they were giving themselves over vicariously to Hashem through the offering being brought. This notion was only possible once the Tabernacle had been erected and Hashem’s presence was to be found in the midst of Bnei Yisroel. By Hashem engaging Bnei Yisroel in an intimate relationship, they were able to reciprocate in a close manner. The name “Vayikra” defines the closeness of Hashem’s relationship with Bnei Yisroel, for it refers to the “kol Hashem”, Hashem’s giving over of Himself to us. It is this closeness which empowers us to give ourselves over to Him through the offerings brought in the Tabernacle.

2.Shemos 3:4
3. Shemos 19:20
5.Ramban introduction to Parsha Terumah
He called to Moshe…”(1:1)