סדר ויקרא

ויקרא אל משה . . . אדם כי יקריב מכם קרבן לה’ מן הבקר מן הצאן תקריבו קרבנכם

And the Lord called to Moses . . . Speak to the people of Israel, and say to them, If any man brings from you an offering to the Lord, you shall bring your offering of the cattle, of the herd, and of the flock.

Leviticus 1:1-2

It states in the Midrash Rabbah (Leviticus 2:1):

“If any man of you brings an offering to the Lord.” This bears on the verse (Jeremiah 31:20), “הבן יקיר לי אפרים אם ילד שעשועים כי מדי דברי בו זכר אזכרנו” (Truly Ephraim is a dear son to me, a  darling child. Even when I speak against him, my thoughts return to him still). “Ephraim is a dear son” means that I set a great price upon Israel. It usually happens that of a thousand who begin the study of Scripture, only a hundred succeed. Out of those hundred that continue to the study of Mishnah, only ten succeed. And out of these ten who continue to the study of Talmud, only one that is fit to render halakhic decisions emerges. That is the dear son. This is the idea suggested by the verse (Ecclesiastes 7:28) “אחד מאלף מצאתי” )One out of a thousand have I found).

Our master explained that the Midrash is addressing a difficulty in the Scripture: Why did the Scripture insert the word “מכם” (from you) after the verb “יקריב” (if any man brings from you an offering) instead of inserting “מכם” after “אדם” (any man) where it would seem to have belonged (if any man from you brings an offering)? Moreover, why does the Scripture first say “קרבן לה” (an offering to the Lord) and immediately afterwards refer to it as “קרבנכם” (your offering)?  That is why the Midrash explains that the Torah wanted to teach us here at the very beginning of the book of Leviticus (תורת כהנים) that the Eternal does not desire burnt offerings and sacrifices, but asks us only to love Him and to study His Torah, which is the gift of the King of the Universe and the object of His longing, more precious than cattle and sheep, not even all the produce of the Bashan could be compared to it. The Sages in the Talmud therefore say “אין לו להקב”ה בעולם הזה אלא ד’ אמות של הלכה בלבד” (the Holy One Blessed Be He has no place in this world except in the four cubits of the law). The Eternal therefore prefers acts of justice and charity to all the rams of Nevayot and all the sheep of Keidar that could be sacrificed before Him.

It is therefore one who exhausts himself in the tent of the Torah (אדם כי ימות באהל) – having sacrificed his soul to the Eternal in order to love Him and to cling to Him, his desire being the Torah of the Eternal which he studies day and night – that is the holy object that the Eternal draws close to Himself. And that man could be anyone. However, the Eternal gave us “תורת כהנים” (the law of the priesthood) – the bringing of animal offerings and meal-offerings – only because our ancestors despised study and wanted to serve Him only with their actions by sacrificing burnt offerings, not with their minds and their souls. (See divrei torah on parshiot Terumah and Ki Tisa)

This is the meaning of the verse “אדם כי יקריב מכם קרבן לה” (if any man brings from yourselves an offering to the Lord). For how else ought a person offer up his soul to the Almighty if not by studying how to conduct himself? This is truly a “קרבן לה” an offering to the Eternal. This is what the Midrash meant when it said: “this bears on the verse ‘Truly Ephraim is My dear son’”  Nothing is so precious in the eyes of the Eternal as a Torah scholar – who is referred to as Ephraim. For of a thousand that begin the study of the Scripture, only one succeeds in mastering the study of Talmud.

There is a further hint to this from the word “מכם” whose numerical value is 100. At Sinai, Israel heard the Scripture, which is the Written Law, which was given to them there. But the Oral Law, the Mishnah and the Talmud, which explain the Torah and its reasons, was transmitted to them in the “אהל מועד” (the tent of meeting). So from every thousand that heard the Scripture at Sinai, only one hundred entered into the Tent of Assembly, and only one of them successfully completed the study of Talmud. That is what is meant by “אדם כי יקריב מכם” (a man that shall come forward from among you) – from among the one hundred who entered into the study of the Oral Law in the Tent of Meeting, only one will successfully complete his study to become the offering to the Lord (קרבן לה’), the beloved son (הבן יקיר לי) out of the one hundred that began the study of Mishnah. (שביבי אש)

והקריב מן התורים או מן בני היונה

Then he shall bring his offering of turtledoves, or of young pigeons

Leviticus 1:14

Rashi comments:

The word “מן” (“from” or “of”) excludes birds of either type in the first stage of their plumage becoming golden-colored. For this stage makes the bird unfit for sacrifice, since such a bird is a grown-up in the case of  בני יונה(young pigeons) but a young one in the case of תורים (turtledoves).

From these words of Rashi it appears that turtledoves and young pigeons are two distinct species. as is proved in Hulin 22b. Our master is greatly perplexed by the words of Rashi there s.v. “אלא אי אמרית” which seem to imply that turtledoves and young pigeons are a single species. (See Dor Revi’i 38a-b.) And there is no master or son of a master who can solve this problem which requires great study. (שביבי אש)

 ונפש כי תחטא ומעלה מעל בה’ וכחש בעמיתו וכחש בפקדון או בתשומת יד או גזל או עשק את עמיתו או מצא אבדה וכחש בה ונשבע על שקר על אחת מכל אשר יעשה האדם לחטא בהנה

If a person sins, and commits a trespass against the Lord and lies to his neighbor in the matter of a deposit or a pledge, or through robbery, or by defrauding his fellow; Or by finding something lost, and lying about it; if he swears falsely about any of these things that a man may do and sin thereby

Leviticus 5:21-22

See Rashi concerning what R. Akiva deduced from the words “ומעלה מעל” (commits a trespass):

R. Akiva said, What is the lesson taught by “ומעלה מעל בה’” (commits a trespass against the Lord) in the verse here, where it does not speak of betraying “קדשי ה’” (holy things of the Lord) as in the earlier verse (Leviticus 5:15) “נפש כי תמעל מעל וחטאה בשגגה בקדשי ה’” (“If a person commits a trespass being unwittingly remiss about any of the holy things of the Lord”), but of betraying one’s neighbor? As a rule, whoever lends or borrows money or does business with another, does do only with witnesses present or with a signed document, so that should he repudiate the obligation, he would repudiate the witnesses or the document. But one who deposits something with his neighbor as a security does not wish any living soul to know about it except the Third Party (God) Who is with them. When one repudiates the security deposit, he therefore repudiates the Third Party Who is with them (Siphra).

Our master explains that R. Akiva taught us a great lesson with this comment, because the Maskilim, wishing to throw off the yoke of the Torah from upon their necks, say that every person should act justly toward his friend and perform deeds of charity and kindness. For that alone is what the Eternal has commanded mankind. But the Eternal does not count against us those transgressions that pertain only to God, but entail no injury to one’s fellow man. For what does it matter to the Holy One Blessed Be He if we slaughter an animal across its throat or across its neck? If we violate those commandments, how does it hurt Him, and if we observe them, how does it benefit Him? However, their hearts are foolish and their vision confused, for if they were truly wise they would understand that all these commandments are included in the Covenant that the Eternal made between Himself and us: what we may eat and what we may not eat, the forbidden relationships, the Sabbath, the Festivals, and the like. These commandments lead a person safely on his path, and such conduct will motivate him to love charity and justice. The commandments create within the soul of a person lofty and honorable traits; they annihilate the jealousy and unworthy desires within him, leading him to desist from anger and to abandon resentment. As our master has explained at length in another place (seder Qedoshim) in commenting on the words that Hillel the Prince spoke to the proselyte: “‘Love your neighbor as yourself’ is the great principle of the Torah and everything else is commentary, go and study,”if a person does not learn to fulfill without exception all the commandments between man and the Omnipresent (mitzvot bein adam la-Maqom), he will never reach the level of loving another person as himself. This is the lesson that the Torah is alluding to when the Scripture writes: “ונפש כי תחטא ומעלה מעל בה’” (If a person sins, and commits a trespass against the Eternal). If a person sins against the Eternal, then it follows that he would also lie to his neighbor in the matter of deposit, or a pledge, or through robbery, or by defrauding his fellow. (שביבי אש)

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