Negative Thoughts

B”H

Motzei Shabbos: parashas Vayikra 5781

“If one’s offering [korban] is an elevation offering [olah]” – Leviticus 1:3

The Hebrew word korban, meaning “offering,” is derived from the shoresh (root word) KRV, meaning “to draw near.” Thus it is implied that an offering serves “to bring us closer to G-d as well as to elevate us” (R’ Hirsch). The olah (elevation offering) has the potential to raise the spiritual level of the person who brings that offering. R’ Hirsch further comments that the offering’s name reflects its purpose, which is to raise its owner from the status of a sinner and bring him to a state of spiritual elevation. Additionally, the olah is brought by someone who seeks to repent of sinful thoughts that have not actually been enacted.  The olah offering  may serve as an atonement for those negative thoughts, that seem to involuntary present themselves at times in a person’s mind. This would include the imagination; especially, if one permits the imagination to entertain these negative thoughts.

It is interesting to note that the righteous Iyov (Job; Ezekiel 14:20, Job 1:1), “would rise early in the morning, and offer burnt offerings [pl., olot, from olah]” for his children, because he said to himself, “it may be that my sons have sinned, and cursed G-d in their hearts” (Job 1:5, Tanach). Iyov made olah offerings for his children, on a continual basis, always after the days of their feasting (see Job 1:4-5). How much more so, should we in our own lives ask forgiveness of G-d for the sinful thoughts in our hearts.

drash Vayikra 5781

parashas Vayikra 5781

parashas Vayikra (Leviticus 1:1 – 5:26) 5781

The Mishkan (portable sanctuary in the wilderness) was established. All of the accoutrements, necessary for avodah (service) were in place – the outer mizbeach, where the offerings would be made in the courtyard; the inner mizbeach, where incense was offered; also, where the showbread table, and the menorah were located. These were all placed outside of the paroches (curtain) that separated from the Kadosh Kadoshim, where the Ark rested with the two golden cherubim on its cover (kaporah).

“Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of H’Shem filled the tabernacle” (Exodus 40:34, JPS 1917 Tanach). Moses was unable to enter, because of the settling of the Cloud of Glory over the Miskan (Tabernacle). Yet, H’Shem called to Moshe, from within the Sanctuary. “Then he heard the Voice speaking unto him from above the ark-cover that was upon the ark of the testimony, from between the two cherubim; and He spoke unto him.” (Numbers 7:89, JPS).

“H’Shem called unto Moses, and spoke unto him out of the tent of meeting, saying: Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them: When any man of you bringeth an offering unto H’Shem”

– Leviticus 1:1-2 , JPS 1917 Tanach

Maimonides explains that the institution of the korbanot (offerings) was necessary, because the Israelites were used to the mode of worship of the times. The difference between the offerings of the nations, and those of Israel, was that Israel’s offerings were to be made only to the One True G-d. Even so, the korbanot (offerings) were meant to be a transitional step towards the ultimate mode of avodah (worship) – prayer.

For, “it is, namely, impossible to go suddenly from one extreme to the other: it is therefore according to the nature of man impossible for him suddenly to discontinue everything to which he has been accustomed” (Maimonides, guide for the Perplexed, Part 3, Ch. 32, wikipedia.com). To have gone directly to the avodah (service) of the heart, in other words, “heartfelt prayer,” after leaving Egypt would have been an impossibility.

shiur Vayikra 5781

B”H

Shiur for parashas Vayikra 5781

“When any man of you bringeth an offering unto the L-RD.”

– Leviticus 1:2, JPS 1917 Tanach

The Hebrew word for offering is korban. The shoresh (root word) of korban is KRV, meaning “to draw near.” Therefore, the act of bringing an offering has the connotation of drawing near to H’Shem. According to Akeidas Yitzchak, the olah offering, in particular, represents prayer from the heart, because the olah completely ascends to H’Shem. Therefore, in like manner that the entire animal brought as an olah offering is consumed on the mizbeach (altar), so too, will our prayers of the heart ascend to G-d.

Interestingly enough, the name associated with the korbanot is H’Shem (YHVH), the name that denotes H’Shem’s Attribute of Mercy. Since the korban is not associated with the name, Elokim that represents the Attribute of Justice, the implication is that an offering permits us to draw near to H’Shem, because of His mercy towards us: for, although the world was first created with the Attribute of Justice, denoted by the name Elokim (the name of G-d that first appears in the Creation narrative), later, the name H’Shem (YHVH) appears, because the world could not survive without Mercy (see Rashi, Genesis 1:1).

H’Shem’s Attribute of mercy makes an allowance for reconciliation through atonement, by way of a korban. The first offering was made for mankind by H’Shem, for the sake of Adam and Chava, when they disobeyed Him and ate from the Tree of Good and Evil. Furthermore, He covered them with clothes derived from the offering (see Genesis 3:21). That an offering was indeed made is alluded to by a particular commentary that speaks of the mate of Leviathan being slayed by G-d, in order to clothe Adam and Chava (Chizkuni, R. Bachya, commentary on Genesis 3:21).

Today, in our own lives, without the “covering” of our sins by way of atonement through our own heartfelt repentance, we are left without protection from the harsh winds of judgment. We may be chastised by G-d, until we are brought back to ourselves, and our plight in this world. What do we have to bring to H’Shem, except for ourselves? As Pesach approaches, let us also clean house, taking stock of our souls, and ridding ourselves of the accumulation of chometz (sin) in our lives. Nissan is reckoned as the first of the months on the Hebrew calendar; an opportune time to renew our sense of commitment to H’Shem. Shabbat shalom.

dvar Vayikra 5781

parashas Vayikra 5781

B”H

 d’var for parashas Vayikra 5781

“When any man of you bringeth an offering unto the L-RD.”

– Leviticus 2:2, JPS 1917 Tanach

The completion of the Mishkan was followed by the manifestation of H’Shem’s presence, in the form of a cloud that filled the Tabernacle, and prevented Moshe from entering. Then H’Shem calls (vayikra) to Moshe from the Ohel Moed (Tent of Meeting); He proceeds with instructing Moshe to speak to B’nei Yisrael, concerning the bringing of a korban (offering). The Hebrew word, “korban” is derived from the shoresh (root word) KRV, meaning to draw near. This implies that the offerer draws near to H’Shem through the bringing of an offering.

The passage continues by describing five general types of offerings, beginning with the olah. The olah represents spiritual elevation, because the entire offering is burnt on the mizbeach (altar), sending the smoke to shomayim (heaven). The word olah is connected to the word aliyah, meaning to ascend. Next, the meal offerings are mentioned: “And when any one bringeth a meal-offering unto H’Shem” (Leviticus 2:1, JPS). Literally, the verse reads, “when a soul brings a meal offering.” This is because a poor person who brings a meal offering, it is as if he offers up his own soul” (Rashi).

Next, the Torah discusses shloshamim (peace offerings), meant to reconcile the offerer to G-d and man. After this, the chatas (sin offering), and the asham (guilt offering) are mentioned. Both of these were brought specifically to atone for sin. Yet, the olah, burnt offering could also be made on a voluntary basis to atone for impure thoughts.  All of these offerings give us an indication of what we need to be concerned about in our relationship to H’Shem.

Today, there are no offerings to bring, except for our prayers. When we confess our sins, from a place within ourselves, denoting a sincere heartfelt recognition of the gravity of our aveiros (sins), we may ascribe to the words of the psalmist, “The sacrifices of G-d are a broken spirit; a broken and a contrite heart, O G-d, Thou wilt not despise” (Psalm 51:19, JPS 1917).

weekly reading: Vayikra

B”H

Shiur for parashas Vayikra 5780

“When any man of you bringeth an offering unto the L-RD.”

– Leviticus 1:2, JPS 1917 Tanach

The Hebrew word for offering is korban. The shoresh (root word) of korban is KRV, meaning “to draw near.” Therefore, the act of bringing an offering has the connotation of drawing near to H’Shem. According to Akeidas Yitzchak, the olah offering, in particular represents prayer from the heart, because the olah completely ascends to H’Shem. Therefore, in like manner that the entire animal brought as an olah offering is consumed on the mizbeach (altar), so too, will our prayers of the heart ascend to G-d.

Interestingly enough, the name associated with the korbanot is H’Shem (YHVH), the name that denotes H’Shem’s Attribute of Mercy. Since the korban is not associated with the name, Elokim that represents the Attribute of Justice, the implication is that an offering permits us to draw near to H’Shem, because of His mercy towards us: for, although the world was first created with the Attribute of Justice, denoted by the name Elokim (the name of G-d that first appears in the Creation narrative), later, the name H’Shem (YHVH) appears, because the world could not survive without Mercy (see Rashi, Genesis 1:1).

H’Shem’s Attribute of mercy makes an allowance for reconciliation through atonement, by way of a korban. The first offering was made for mankind by H’Shem, for the sake of Adam and Chava, when they disobeyed Him and ate from the Tree of Good and Evil. Furthermore, He covered them with clothes derived from the offering (see Genesis 3:21). That an offering was indeed made is alluded to by a particular commentary that speaks of the mate of Leviathan being slayed by G-d, in order to clothe Adam and Chava (Chizkuni, R. Bachya, commentary on Genesis 3:21).

Torah Highlight: Vayikra

B”H

March 22, 2020

“The L-RD called unto Moses, and spoke unto him out of the tent of meeting.”

– Leviticus 1:1, JPS 1917 Tanach

After the Mishkan (portable tabernacle in the wilderness) was built, H’Shem called to Moshe from within the sanctuary, where His presence resides above the Ark of the Covenant, between the two golden cherubim on the cover of the Ark. What is notable about this invitation to Moshe is that “Moses could never enter the Tabernacle without first having obtained permission to do so” (Sforno, commentary on Exodus 24:16, sefaria.org).

Sforno references the pasuk (verse), wherein Moshe is called to enter into the Cloud of Glory, while previously on Sinai, before the building of the Mishkan. “And the glory of the L-RD abode upon mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it six days; and the seventh day He called unto Moses out of the midst of the cloud” (Exodus 24:16). The comparison alludes to the similarity between Sinai and the Mishkan. The Mishkan (tabernacle) became the dwelling place of H’Shem’s presence, as the Targum clearly states in its specificity:

“And it was when Mosheh had completed to erect the tabernacle that Mosheh reasoned and judged in his heart, and said: To Mount Sinai, whose excellency is the excellence only of an hour and its holiness the holiness but of three days, I could not ascend till the time that the word was spoken to me; but the excellence of this the tabernacle of ordinance is an eternal excellency, and its holiness an everlasting holiness; therefore is it right that I should not enter within it until the time that I am spoken with from before the L-rd.”

– Targum Jonathan, sefaria.org