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Posted on March 20, 2013 (5773) By Rabbi Yissocher Frand | Series: | Level:

Parshas Tzav

Double Entendre In the Word

These divrei Torah were adapted from the hashkafa portion of Rabbi Yissocher Frand’s Commuter Chavrusah Torah Tapes on the weekly Torah portion: Tape #92, Selling Non-Kosher Foods. Good Shabbos & Chag Kosher V’Somayach!

Among the sacrifices mentioned in this week’s parsha is the Thanksgiving Offering. The Medrash says that in the future, all the sacrifices will be nullified, except the Thanksgiving Offering — for there is always need to give thanks.

Rav Yitzchok Hutner z”tl, makes a very interesting point. “Todah” [thanks] comes from the word “Hoda’ah”, meaning giving thanks. However, the word “Hoda’ah” also means to admit (as in the expression Hoda’as ba’al din k’meah edim dami [An admission of a litigant is like one hundred witnesses]).

Rav Hutner says that it is no coincidence that the word for thanking and the word for admitting are one and the same. In order for a person to give thanks, he must be able to admit that he needed help. The first step in being grateful to someone for doing something for you is the admission that you needed help and that you are not all powerful. Therefore, the Hebrew word for thanks and for admission are the same.

How do we know whether the word “Hoda’ah” means admission or thanks? Rav Hutner says that we need to look at the preposition that comes after the word. The word “Hoda’ah” — meaning admission — is always followed by the Hebrew preposition ‘”sheh…” (that). The word “Hoda’ah” — meaning thanks — is always followed by the Hebrew word “al …” (for).

We daven [pray] a Blessing of Modim in Shmoneh Esrei, called the Blessing of “Hoda’ah”. How does it read? “Modim anachnu lach sheh…” This indicates, that the first thing we must do is not thank G-d, but admit to G-d that we are dependent on Him. Once we come to that understanding, then we can come to the end of the blessing where we say “Nodeh lecha… …al…” — We thank You for… Birkas HaHoda’ah is thus a two-stage blessing. It is a Hoda’ah of admission at the beginning which climaxes with a Hoda’ah of thanking at the end.

We Can’t Appoint an Agent to Say ‘Thank-You’

I recently saw a beautiful insight in the Avudraham. When the Chazan says Modim, the congregation recites a prayer known as “The Rabbis’ Modim”. Why is that? The Avudraham says that for all blessings in the Shmoneh Esrei, we can have an agent. For ‘Heal Us’, for ‘Bless Us with a Good Year’, and so forth we can have a messenger — the Shliach Tzibbur [the agent of the congregation (chazzan)] can say the blessing for us. However, there is one thing that no else one can say for us. We must say it for ourselves. That one thing is “Thank You”. Hoda’ah must come from ourselves. No one can be our agent to say ‘Thank You’.

This write-up was adapted from the hashkafa portion of Rabbi Yissocher Frand’s Commuter Chavrusah Torah Tape series on the weekly Torah portion. The complete list of halachic topics covered in this series for Parshas Vayakhel-Pekudei are provided below:

Tape # 004 – When to Make the Bracha of HaGomel
Tape # 049 – Purim: Shalach Manos
Tape # 140 – Pessach: The Mitzvah of Daled Kosos
Tape # 187 – Pessach: Does Marror Require a Kezais
Tape # 233 – Pessach: Woman and Daled Kosos
Tape # 277 – Pessach: The Mitzvah of Heseiba
Tape # 323 – Pessach: Eating Matzah: How Fast?
Tape # 367 – Pesach: Afikomen After Chatzos
Tape # 411 – Pesach: Netilas Yodayim for Karpas & Wet Fruit
Tape # 455 – Pesach: Daled Kosos: Another Look
Tape # 499 – Davening Quietly
Tape # 543 – Birchas Hagomel, Airplane Travel & Other Issues
Tape # 587 – Afikomen Revisited
Tape # 631 – Bleeding Gums- More Than a Periodontal Problem
Tape # 675 – Going Away for Pesach and Bedikas Chometz
Tape # 719 – The Importance of Shabbos Clothes
Tape # 763 – Eating Matzo When Ill
Tape # 807 – Who Says Haggadah in Your House? Hallel in Shul? Etc.
Tape # 851 – Proper Attire for Davening
Tape # 895 – Birchas HaGomel – More Insights
Tape # 939 – Pesach: Gefilte Fish, Ch’rain and Charoses?
Tape # 982 – Pesach: A Bracha Achrona for All Daled Kosos – Why Not?

Tapes, CDs, MP3s or a complete catalogue can be ordered from the Yad Yechiel Institute, PO Box 511, Owings Mills MD 21117-0511. Call (410) 358-0416 or e-mail [email protected] or visit for further information.

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