Posted on March 21, 2013 (5773) By Rabbi Yochanan Zweig | Series: | Level:


“Command Aharon and his sons”(6:2)

Chazal are sensitive to the fact that all of the offerings which were commanded to Bnei Yisroel were introduced with either the word “,rnt” – “amarta”, which means “say” or “rcs” – “daber”, “speak”. However, in the commandment to the Kohanim, the Torah uses the more emphatic term “um” – “tzav”, “command”. Chazal explain that since the Kohanim incur financial loss in their performance of the service, an exhortation is necessary.1

The commentaries offer various explanations for what the monetary loss was, to which Chazal is referring. The Maharal suggests that it is referring to an opportunity cost. These Kohanim who chose the path of Holy service could have chosen more mundane forms of livelihoods that would have been far more lucrative, When they are inaugurated the sense of what they have given up might overcome them, therefore they need the added encouragement.2

The Ramban explains that the loss incurred was in the inaugural meal offering which every Kohain was required to bring and finance on his own when he was appointed to perform the service for the first time.3

What must be explained is why the meal offering would require a special exhortation being that the expense incurred by it was minimal. When a person is granted a special honor, for example, being the guest of honor at a dinner, billing him for the dinner would be perceived as a slap in the face. Similarly, requesting a Kohain to pay for his inaugural offering after granting him the honor of representing Bnei Yisroel in the Beis Hamikdash, might be met with resistance. Therefore, the cost of the offering is inconsequential. It is the notion of being charged which creates resistance, and subsequently, there is a need for a special exhortation.

1. Rashi 6:2
2.Gur Arye 6:2
3. Ramban introduction to Parshas Tzav

The Jewish Problem

Come, let us deal wisely with them…” (1:10)

The Torah relates that the Mitzrim were afraid that Bnei Yisroel were becoming too numerous. Looming over their heads was the possibility that in the case of a war Bnei Yisroel would join forces with the enemy and drive the Mitzrim out of their land. Pharaoh and his advisors devised a course of action to prevent their worst fears from materializing.

The Ba’al Haggada states “vayarei’u osanu hamitzrim” – “the Mitzrim dealt with us in a malevolent manner”, as it is recorded in the Torah “havah nischakmah lo” – “come let us deal wisely with them”. Why is Pharaoh’s strategizing as to how to deal with a perceived threat viewed as a malicious act against

In contemporary society we search continuously for methods by which we can categorize different conditions and behaviors. By identifying and labeling a problem we gain a certain confidence that the problem can be corrected. Unfortunately, often in our haste to identify a situation which we are having difficulty controlling, we mislabel a condition and create a problem where no problem exists. Particularly when dealing with children, care must be taken to ensure that we, as parents and educators, do not label our children as “problems”. Even when the correct diagnosis has been made, we must proceed with caution to ensure that we do not transform a child with a problem into a “problem child”. The grossest injustice that can be done to a person is to label him as a problem. The damage caused to a child’s self-esteem due to the manner in which he is perceived by others and consequently comes to view himself, can be irreparable.

Whereas the harm which Bnei Yisroel suffered at the hands of the Mitzrim lasted only for the duration of time they spent in servitude and affected only those who were present, the perception created by Pharaoh that Jews are a public menace still haunts us today. The ultimate act of evil perpetrated against Bnei Yisroel by Pharaoh was labeling them as “the Jewish Problem”.