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Vayikra: Three Gems from the Parsha

Published on Friday March 15th, 2019

The first word of our Parshah is Vayikra, which is also one of the holy names of Hashem. If we focus on the text, we’ll notice the last letter of this word (Aleph), is in the lower case compared to the other letters.

Let’s also take note that each tractate of the Talmud begins on page Beit and not on page Aleph, which would have been more logical since the numerical value of Beit is 2, while that of Aleph is 1. Why is that so?

We know nothing!

The Rambam writes that the goal of knowledge is to realize we know nothing!

This means that when a man claims to know everything, he cannot learn anything at all. Each Talmudic tractate begins on page 2 (Beit) to teach us that in the event we should come to know the entire the Talmud, in reality, we haven’t even learned the first page!

Now, we can understand why in our Parshah, the letter Aleph is written in lower case. This teaches us that to be able to learn, you first need to be humble (make yourself small).

One day, a very great Rav was looking for the most prominent Torah student to marry his daughter. He addressed the person in charge of a particularly prestigious Yeshiva so that he could recommend the student most likely to fit his description. Not knowing who to choose, the administrator suggested the Rav pick the student himself.

The Rav gathered all the students together and declared: "Whoever can answer a particularly difficult question will have the merit of marrying my daughter! The Rav asked the famous question and all students, without exception, gave an answer.

However, no response satisfied the Rav and he decided to take leave. But a student caught up with him and exclaimed, "Rav, wait! "

- Do you know the answer? asked the Rav.

- No, I don’t, nor am I interested in getting married just yet. Nevertheless, please give me the answer, otherwise, I will not be able to fall asleep tonight! "

"I did not want an answer," the Rav said with a big smile., I want a young man who wants to know the answer because this proves he is eager to study. You will be my daughter's future husband ... "

No Blood in the Eggs!

"You will refrain from consuming blood" (Vayikra 3, 17)

In Eastern Europe, false accusations circulated amid Israel's enemies concerning the murder of a young child. The Jews were accused of allegedly killing the boy in order to utilize his blood for baking Matzot.

The case was brought before a court and the city Rav came forward to defend his community.

At the hearing, the Rav asked permission to bring into the courthouse any Jewish woman, picked at random on the street. A woman was brought in and introduced herself. The Rav asked her to prepare an omelet. She started breaking the eggs, then examined each one carefully.

The Rav asked her, "Why do you check the eggs? "

She naturally replied, "I want to make sure there is no blood inside the eggs."

This simple answer immediately absolved the Jewish community ... 

Spiritual Jealousy

“No meal offering that you sacrifice to the Lord shall be made [out of anything] leavened. For you shall not cause to [go up in] smoke any leavening or any honey, [as] a fire offering to the Lord “(Vayikra 2,11)

Offerings (or oblations) should never be burnt with leaven or honey. On the other hand, salt is added.

We know that jealousy, desire, and conceit (thirst for honor) are despicable traits of character everyone should avoid like the plague. Jealousy is singled out as the worst trait of character and should be avoided more than any other.

However, there is a twist in the form of positive jealousy. One may feel jealousy of one's neighbor when the latter is more diligent in the study of Torah. Thus, wanting to reach one's neighbor level of study is not only beneficial but recommended as it helps one surpass his own limitations.

The Chatam Sofer writes that leaven refers to the thirst for honor, and that honey corresponds to desire. According to this, the verse clearly tells us that these two traits of character should be out of bounds in divine service.

On the other hand, salt, which corresponds to jealousy, must be attached to our offering because it comes from seawater. When the world was created, there was jealousy between the waters from above and the waters from below. This teaches us that it is permissible to envy one's neighbor concerning spiritual elevation!

Shabbat Shalom!

Rav Mordékhai STEBOUN - © Torah-Box Account

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