These divrei Torah were adapted from the hashkafa portion of Rabbi Yissochar Frand’s Commuter Chavrusah Torah Tapes on the weekly Torah portion: Tape # 88, Parshas Tzav. Good Shabbos and Chag Kosher V’somayach!
This week’s parsha begins with the mitzvah of the Korban Olah. Aharon and his children are given the tremendous responsibility of the avodah in the Bais Hamikdash, but after the Torah introduces the Korbon Olah, the first thing Aharon is instructed is, “And the kohen shall put on his linen garment and his linen pants shall he wear on his flesh, and take up the ashes, which the fire had consumed the elevating-offering on the altar, and lay them down at the side of the mizbayach” (Vayikra 6:3). This is the mitzvah d’Oraysa of “Terumas HaDeshen.” Every morning, as part of the avodah, the kohen removed the ashes of the wood and offerings that had burnt the previous night.
The Chovos HaLevovos, one of the classic works on ethics and Jewish philosophy, written by Rav Bachye ben Yosef Ibn Paqda, says that the rationale behind Terumas HaDeshen is that the Torah is particularly careful that people should not become ba’alei gayvah (haughty people).
The kohen may think that he is something special—and in fact, he is something special. He is among the select few who were chosen to do the avodas hamikdash. Nevertheless, the Torah instructs him, “Take out the ashes!” The Torah is very sensitive to human emotions. Lest Aharon come to think too much of himself, the Torah tells him to begin his day with the lowly task of taking out the ashes.
A number of years ago, I realized that the last thing I do on Erev Yom Kippur is take out the garbage. Erev Yom Kippur is a very special day. We eat the Seuda Hamafsekes (last meal before the fast). We bless our children. But the last thing before going to shul on Erev Yom Kippur is taking out the garbage.
I was struck by two thoughts: First of all, this really represents what we all try to do on Erev Yom Kippur—take out the garbage in our lives. Secondly, when someone walks into Shul on Yom Kippur wearing his kittel, he may be tempted to think of the loftiness of his station, entering into Yom Kippur enveloped in kedusha. However, a person should always remember that he still needs to deal with such things as garbage bags. He remains a very human type of being. He should never forget that he needs to take out the garbage. He must eat, drink and sleep, and yes, he must still take out the garbage. If a person thinks in those terms, he will not let things go to his head and become a ba’al gayvah.
A Person’s Honor Has Value
On one hand, as we explained, the Torah is concerned that the Kohen Gadol should not become a ba’al gayvah. On the other hand, the Torah is very particular about the honor of the less fortunate – that a poor person should not become depressed and broken.
There is an interesting gemara in Bava Kama (92a). The wealthy people brought their Bikurim (first fruit offerings) in gold and silver baskets. The poor people could not afford gold or silver baskets, so they carried their fruits to the kohen in baskets made out of reeds.
The Gemara says that the kohanim returned the gold and silver baskets to the wealthy people because they did not have the right to keep those precious utensils as a fringe benefit along with receiving the first fruits. However, the kohanim did keep the reed baskets that they received from the poor people. The poor person “lost” the basket in the deal as well. Rava applies to this the old rule “basar anyah azla aniyusa,” which means, loosely translated, “the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.”
It is ironic. The rich fellow gets his basket back, while the poor person, who can ill afford it, does not get his basket back. This always bothered me. Why does the kohen keep the poor fellow’s basket?
I once read that the reason why the Torah takes the basket of the poor person is to bolster his ego. The fruit looks like a more substantial gift when it is in the basket. The Torah says to let the kohen keep the basket and let the poor person suffer the financial loss, but let him at least keep his pride intact. It is better for the poor person to lose the basket in order to give the Bikurim a plentiful appearance, rather than to return the basket and make the person swallow his pride. The Torah goes to great lengths to protect a person’s honor.
I remember someone asking me about raising money for hachnosas kallah. A person was marrying off his daughter and he needed financial help. The fellow who approached me wanted to raise money on the other person’s behalf, in order to pay for the wedding.
His question was as follows. If he told people for whom he was raising the money, there was no question that he could raise a lot of money. (The person was well-known and well-respected in the community.) On the other hand, if he kept it anonymous, he would not be able to raise as much, because these kinds of requests occur a half dozen times a week.
At that time, I asked this question to the Rosh Yeshiva (Rav Yaakov Ruderman zt”l): Should he mention the name and raise more money, or keep it anonymous and raise less money? Without batting an eyelash or the slightest hesitation, the Rosh Yeshiva said it should be anonymous — “A mensch’s kavod is vert asach.” (A person’s pride is worth a whole lot.)
That is what we learn from the baskets. A person’s respect and honor are worth a lot. It is even worth losing money over them. Money can always be replaced, but kavod habriyos and pride are much harder to replace.
Transcribed by David Twersky; Jerusalem [email protected]
Edited by Dovid Hoffman; Baltimore, MD [email protected]
This week’s write-up is adapted from the hashkafa portion of Rabbi Yissocher Frand’s Commuter Chavrusah Series on the weekly Torah portion. A listing of the halachic portions for Parshas Tzav is provided below:
- Tape # 004 – When to Make the Bracha of HaGomel
- Tape # 049 – Purim: Shalach Manos
- Tape # 092 – Non-Kosher Products: The Dilemma of the Jewish Merchant
- Tape # 140 – Pesach: The Mitzvah of Daled Kosos
- Tape # 187 – Pesach: Does Maror Require a K’zayis?
- Tape # 233 – Pesach: Women and Daled Kosos
- Tape # 277 – Pesach: The Mitzvah of Heseiba
- Tape # 323 – Pesach: Eating Matzo: 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?
- #cc1070 – Pesach: Are Women Obligated in Hagaddah? Should You Say Hallel in Shul on Pesach Night?
- #cc1113 – Pesach: Thoughts on The Hagaddah Vol 4
- #cc1156 – Pesach: Thoughts on the Hagaddah Vol 5
- #cc1243 – Purim: Timeless Message of Megilas Esther
- #1331cc – Should Women Bentch Ha’gomel?
- #cc1463 – Pesach: Shailos During the Corona Pandemic
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 http://www.yadyechiel.org/ for further information.