No Free Meal
"Command Aharon And His Sons"
Chazal are sensitive to the fact that all of the offerings which were
commanded to Bnei Yisroel were introduced with either the word "amarta",
which means "say" or "daber", "speak". However, in the commandment to the
Kohanim, the Torah uses the more emphatic term "tzav", "command". Chazal
explain that since the Kohanim incur financial loss in their performance of
the service, an exhortation is necessary.
The commentaries offer various explanations for what the monetary loss was,
to which Chazal is referring. The Maharal suggests that it is referring to
an opportunity cost. These Kohanim who chose the path of Holy service could
have chosen more mundane forms of livelihoods that would have been far more
lucrative, When they are inaugurated the sense of what they have given up
might overcome them, therefore they need the added encouragement.
The Ramban explains that the loss incurred was in the inaugural meal
offering which every Kohain was required to bring and finance on his own
when he was appointed to perform the service for the first time.
What must be explained is why the meal offering would require a special
exhortation being that the expense incurred by it was minimal. When a person
is granted a special honor, for example, being the guest of honor at a
dinner, billing him for the dinner would be perceived as a slap in the face.
Similarly, requesting a Kohain to pay for his inaugural offering after
granting him the honor of representing Bnei Yisroel in the Beis Hamikdash,
might be met with resistance. Therefore, the cost of the offering is
inconsequential. It is the notionof being charged which creates resistance,
and subsequently, there is a need for a special exhortation.
1. Rashi 6:2
2.Gur Arye 6:2
3. Ramban introduction to Parshas Tzav
Lighting The Internal Flame
The Jews had light..." (Megillas Esther 8:16)
The verse states that the miracle of Purim brought light to the
Jews. The Ibn Ezra explains that this verse refers to Bnei Yisroel's
emergence from the darkness and gloom of impending destruction into the
light of salvation. The Talmud understands that a spiritual message is
being conveyed; "Orah" - "light" refers to the Torah. Bnei Yisroel
reaffirmed their commitment to Torah. What aspect of their commitment to
Torah was reaffirmed? Different elements of nature are used to depict the
Torah such as water, air, fire etc. Why, in describing the reaffirmation of
the Torah, is the Torah compared specifically to the element of fire?
In Parshas Beshalach the Torah records that when Bnei Yisroel departed from
Mitzrayim they were attacked by Amaleik at a place called Refidim. The
Midrash explains that the Torah records the name of the place because it is
a contraction of words that reveals the reason for Bnei Yisroel's
vulnerability to Amaleik's attack; "sherafu yedeihem min haTorah" -
literally, "they weakened their hands from the Torah", generally understood
to mean that they became lax in their Torah study. Why does the Torah
describe the laxity in their commitment as a weakening of the hands?
"Sherafu yedeihem min haTorah" implies that the Torah itself caused the
weariness, "min haTorah" - "as a result of the Torah". What insight is the
Midrash offering by couching the reason in such a manner?
Every action that we do falls into one of two categories. The activity
either has no intrinsic value other than facilitating reaching a desired
goal, or the activity may be necessary to reach a desired goal but it has
its own intrinsic value as well. Those activities which do not contain their
own intrinsic value are deemed burdensome and are almost always performed
with resistance because the individual has the knowledge that if the desired
goal could be achieved without having to perform these tasks, that would be
the preferred course of action. Only those endeavors which a person
perceives as having intrinsic value stimulate and energize him.
The study of Torah involves two aspects; one is the acquisition of knowledge
which enables us to observe the precepts in the prescribed manner.
Additionally, the study of Hashem's wisdom connects us to Him, giving
intrinsic value to the actual study.
The very essence and philosophy of Amaleik, that this world is devoid of
Divine providence and is therefore ruled by chance, removes all value from
anything that they do. Since, according to them, there exists no Divine
blueprint, all of existence is governed by the pursuit of
self-gratification, making every endeavor bereft of intrinsic value. This
notion is reflected in Amaleik's name, "amal kof" - "toil of a monkey"; a
monkey is the primate closest to man and can be taught to mimic human
behavior. However, although its actions are human in appearance alone, they
possess no intrinsic value. The Amaleik perspective leaves a person
unfulfilled and very often depressed. This leads to self-destructive
behavior which is the trademark of Amaleik, who are described by our Sages
The Torah identifies the deficiency within Bnei Yisroel as becoming weary
from the study of Torah. If a person approaches Torah study as only a means
to an end and does not appreciate its intrinsic value, the actual study will
make him weary. Weariness from Torah study indicates that we have allowed
the insidious Amaleiki philosophy, the feeling that our actions have no
value and we pass through life just going through the motions, to seep into
our own thought patterns.
It is the fire of Torah which energizes and gives us our fulfillment and
sense of purpose. Lacking this perspective weakens us not only spiritually,
but physically as well. When we allow our internal Amaleiki tendencies to
rise to the surface we open ourselves up to the attack of an external
Amaleik. On Purim we defeated our external enemies together with our
internal Amaleik which was eradicated by rekindling the flame of Torah. This
comes with the awareness of the intrinsic value of Torah study.
1.Megillas Esther 8:16
2.Megilla 16b and Shabbos 88b
6.See Rashi ibid