In this week's parashah, we begin to read of the different
sacrifices that one might bring. These laws begin (in verse 2),
"When adam / a person among you brings an offering to
Hashem . . ." On this the Zohar comments, "Not the first man and
not the last man." What does this mean?
R' Mordechai Rogow z"l (1900-1967; Lithuanian rabbi, later rosh
yeshiva in Chicago) explains: When Adam Harishon, the first man,
served G-d, he was in the Garden of Eden. There, the presence of
G-d was clearly revealed, and it was easy to recognize His power
and divinity and to show allegiance to Him.
The "last man" will also be in a unique position. He will
witness the conclusion of our present exile. He will possess a
full, panoramic perspective on history, and he will be able to
appreciate the meaning and purpose of all of our sufferings.
With that outlook, he, too, will have an easy time serving
Hashem. As the verse states (Yishayah 12:1), "You will say on
that day, `I thank you Hashem, for You were angry with me, and
now Your wrath has subsided and You have comforted me'."
It is neither the offering of the "first man" nor the offering
of the "last man" which is most desired by Hashem. Rather, it is
the offering that we bring in our present circumstances which He
desires. We have not directly witnessed the beginning of
Hashem's plan, nor have we been shown the end of His master
strategy. We are confused by countless questions about how
Hashem runs His world. Even so, we bring offerings to Him, and
we do so with our full hearts. These, teaches the Zohar, are the
offerings that Hashem desires most. (Ateret Mordechai)
"He called to Moshe . . ." (1:1)
The previous parashah ended with the words: ". . .before the
eyes of all of the House of Israel, throughout their journeys."
R' Akiva Yosef Schlesinger z"l (1835-1922; one of the founders of
Petach Tikvah) comments on this juxtaposition as follows:
The revelation of the Torah in every generation is not a new
event, but a continuation of the revelation that occurred through
Moshe Rabbeinu. This is why we find in the gemara (for example,
Shabbat 101b) that a wise person is told, "Moshe! You have
spoken well." Moreover, in every generation, throughout the
Jewish people's journeys, Hashem reveals himself to a "Moshe", as
it is written (Amos 3:7), "For the Lord Hashem/Elokim will not do
anything unless He has revealed His secret to His servants the
Of course, G-d's revelation is not as clear today as it was to
Moshe; it is heard only through a bat kol or a dream. Therefore
the letter "aleph" of the word "vayikra" is small, to indicate
that Hashem's call to later "Moshes" will be of a lesser
"When adam / a man among you brings an offering to Hashem . . ." (1:2)
Rashi comments: "Why is the term `adam' employed here for `man'
[rather than the more common `ish']? To teach: Just as the first
man (`Adam Harishon') did not offer sacrifices from anything
acquired by theft - since everything was his - so you, too, shall
not offer anything acquired by theft."
R' Eliyahu Eliezer Dessler z"l (Mashgiach of the Gateshead and
Ponovezh yeshivot; died 1953) observes that Rashi's comment
(which is derived from Midrash Rabbah) has a deeper message than
the purely halachic / legal statement: "A stolen animal is
invalid for a sacrifice." He writes:
One who brings an animal sacrifice is supposed to picture that
he is offering _himself_ to G-d. The animal merely stands in the
place of the person who brings it. Who is capable of doing this?
Only a person who is, in R' Dessler's lexicon, a "giver." (A
recurring theme in R' Dessler's writings is that all people fall
into one of two groups: "givers" and "takers." While every
person must both give and take during his lifetime, some people
are inherently "givers" - even when they take, it is only in
order to give. Most people, though, are inherently "takers" -
even when they give, it is only in order to take. See Michtav
M'Eliyahu, Vol. I, pp. 32-51 / In English: Strive for Truth,
Vol. I, pp. 118-158.)
A "taker" cannot bring a proper sacrifice, because he does not
really give. He certainly is incapable of giving of himself, as
a sacrifice requires. Moreover, even if a person is a "giver" in
practice, but in his heart he is a "taker", his offering is not
complete. Therefore Rashi tells us: What characterized Adam?
Not only did he not steal, for everything was his, but even the
_thought_ of taking was unknown to him. Only such a person,
Rashi teaches, can offer a proper sacrifice.
(Michtav M'Eliyahu Vol. 1, p.126)
Thirty Days Before Pesach . . .
Why is the Seder called by that name?
R' David Moshe Hakohen z"l (son-in-law of the last Radomsker
Rebbe; killed in the Holocaust) offers the following explanation:
Regarding all foods prohibited by the Torah, there is a minimum
amount that one must eat before he is considered to have
transgressed. (Usually, that amount is a ke'zayit / the volume
of an olive.) Not so chametz, which is prohibited down to the
smallest morsel. Also, in no case where the Torah prohibited
eating a particular food did the Torah prohibit owning the food.
No other food-related prohibition requires us to search for the
contraband and destroy it. Why does chametz have these unique
The Radvaz (16th century) answers this by referring to the
midrash which alludes to a connection between chametz and the
yetzer hara. [Just as chametz rises, the yetzer hara causes a
person to "rise," i.e., to become haughty.] Just as one is
supposed to uproot every vestige of the yetzer hara from within
himself, so one must uproot every vestige of chametz from his
There are four ways to interpret the Torah: peshat / the
simplest explanation, remez / allusion (like gematria), drush /
homiletics, and sod / the esoteric meaning. It seems, however,
notes R' David Moshe, that there is no "simple" explanation for
the severity of the prohibition of chametz. The peshat is
missing, and all that is left is the "SeDeR" - sod, drush and
(Haggadah Shel Pesach Tiferet Shlomo p. 53)
If chametz alludes to the yetzer hara, why is it not prohibited
all of the time? And, why is it that one can only fulfill the
mitzvah of matzah using a dough that could potentially have
become chametz? [If one had a dough that contained anti-leavening
agents, he could not fulfill the mitzvah with that dough.]
R' Avraham Shmuel Binyamin Sofer z"l (rabbi of Pressburg; 1815-
1871) answers that the Torah was given to humans, not angels.
Man's mission is not to live without a yetzer hara; it is to
control and regulate his yetzer hara.
(Haggadah Shel Pesach Ketav Sofer)
"Baruch Ha'Makom!" / "Blessed is the Omnipresent! Blessed
is He! Blessed is the One Who has given the Torah to His
people, Yisrael! Blessed is He! Concerning four sons does
the Torah speak . . ."
(From the Pesach Haggadah)
Why does the Haggadah introduce the passage about the "Four
Sons" with a blessing over the gift of Torah? R' Moshe Yisrael
Feldman z"l (rabbi of Dragomiresti, Hungary; killed in the
The mishnah (Eduyot Ch. 2) teaches that wisdom is hereditary.
If so, how is it possible for one person to have four sons like
the Four Sons of the Haggadah: a wise son, a wicked son, a simple
son, and a son who does not know how to ask? The answer may be
found in the teaching of the gemara (Nedarim 81a): "Why is it
rare for Torah scholars to have sons who are Torah scholars?
Because they do not recite the blessings over the Torah first
thing [in the morning]." [The Mefaresh / Anonymous Commentary on
Nedarim explains that the Torah scholars referred to are in such
a hurry to return to their studies when they awaken that they
neglect to recite the blessings, including the prayer, "May we
and our descendants . . . be students of Your Torah."]
Says R' Feldman: Now, as we are about to speak of the Four
Sons, we remind ourselves to recite the blessings over the Torah,
lest our sons grow up to be as different as these four.
(Haggadah Shel Pesach Shem Yisrael)
A Pesach Parable
We read in the Haggadah: "If Hashem had not taken our
forefathers out of Egypt, we, our children and our grandchildren
would be enslaved to Pharaoh in Egypt." R' Chaim Elazar Shapira
z"l (the "Munkatcher Rebbe"; died 1937) writes that the purpose
of this statement is to answer the question: Why is our present
exile so long and drawn out? Why doesn't Hashem redeem us in the
same dramatic way that He redeemed our ancestors from Egypt?
R' Shapira explains with the following parable:
A doctor was once rushed to the bedside of a sick man and,
seeing the condition of the patient, he performed an emergency
appendectomy that saved the patient's life. Within days, the
patient was up and about, and he thanked the doctor accordingly.
Several years passed, and again this man took ill, this time
with painful kidney disease. The same doctor was called, and he
prescribed a regimen of diet and medication. "If you follow
these instructions," he said, "you will be cured in several
"A few years ago, I was sicker than this - was I not?" the
"You were," the doctor answered.
"And on that occasion you operated and I was cured in a matter
of days - was I not?"
"Yes," said the doctor.
"Then why have you chosen to give me a gradual cure that will
leave me suffering for several months rather than operating and
curing me immediately?" the patient inquired.
The doctor explained: "Surgery is a drastic measure that is
performed as a last resort. Had I not operated then, you would
have died shortly. Now, however, there is no immediate danger to
your life. Although you may suffer for a time, this diet and
these medications will cure your illness at its source and you
will remain healthy."
The Exodus, R' Shapira explains, was a "dramatic rescue"
because the Jewish people were on the verge of total
assimilation. Even we and our children would have been lost.
This is what the above excerpt from the Haggadah is teaching us.
The present exile, though painful, can be "cured" more gradually
and less dramatically.
(Sha'ar Yissaschar: Ma'amar Aggadeta De'Pisacha, No. 22
quoted in Haggadah Shel Pesach Sha'arei Armon p. 43)
The Katz and Vogel families,
on the bar mitzvah of grandson Yehuda Katz
The Katz and Vogel families,
on the bar mitzvah of grandson Moshe Katz
The Spector family,
on the yahrzeit of husband, father and grandfather
Avrohom ben Nosson Nuta a"h