Friday, March 27, 2009

Shabbos: Ta’am HaChaim Parashas Vayikra 5769

שבת טעם החיים פרשת ויקרא תשס"ט
Shabbos: Ta’am HaChaim Parashas Vayikra 5769
Performing HaShem’s will with our will
This week’s parashah discusses the karbanos, sacrifices that the Jewish People were required to bring when the Mishkan and the Bais HaMikdash were in existence. The essence of a sacrifice is the ratzon, the will that one has when offering the sacrifice to HaShem. It is said (Vayikra 1:3) im olah karbano min habakar zachar tamim yakrivenu el Pesach ohel moed yakriv oso lirztono lifnei HaShem, if one’s offering is a burnt-offering from the cattle, he shall offer an unblemished male; he shall bring it to the entrance of the Tent of Meeting, voluntarily, before HaShem. Rashi cites the Gemara that states that the word lirztono teaches us that if one does not wish to offer the obligatory sacrifice, he is beaten until he declares that he wants to bring the offering.
HaShem’s speech is His will
Let us understand what this means When the Jewish People prepared to receive the Torah at Sinai, they declared naaseh vinishma, we will do and we will listen. Nonetheless, the Gemara (Shabbos 88a) states that HaShem held the mountain over their heads and proclaimed, “accept the Torah and if not, you will be buried here.” It appears that despite the Jewish People’s willingness to accept the Torah, it was still necessary for them to be coerced to accept the Torah. There are various explanation offered to resolve this paradox (See Tosfos Ibid; Maharal Tiferes Yisroel §32). Perhaps the idea that is expressed in the Gemara can be explained with the following statement. The Mishna in Avos (5:1) states that the world was created with ten utterances. Although HaShem could have created the world with one utterance, he chose to create the world with ten utterances so that the wicked people, who destroy the world that was created with ten utterances, could be punished, and the righteous, who sustain the world that was created with ten utterances, could be rewarded. The Ramban writes that when it is said that HaShem uttered that something should come into existence, it means that Hashem willed that something should exist. Thus, HaShem’s utterance was, so to speak, His will.
Ten utterances are revealed in Ten Commandments
Hashem created the world for the sake of the Jewish People and for the purpose of having the Jewish People study the Torah. Thus, HaShem’s will was for the Jewish People to study His Torah. Nonetheless HaShem uttered ten utterances regarding creation, and in a similar vein, writes the Sfas Emes, Hashem uttered Ten Commandments at Sinai. The Sfas Emes explains that the ten utterances of creation were concealed, whereas the Ten Commandments were the revelation of those ten utterances. The Jewish People, by declaring “we will do and we will listen,” were revealing the ten utterances so creation. Yet, HaShem sought to demonstrate that their willingness to accept the Torah was only a mirror of HaShem’s will in this world. Thus, when we refer to someone’s will, we are ultimately tracing that will to what HaShem’s will is for the world. A person who is required to offer a sacrifice must acknowledge that he is performing HaShem’s will. One who finds it difficult to express this recognition is coerced, similar to the raising of the mountain, to express this acknowledgment of HaShem’s will. In truth, the offering of a sacrifice is merely a microcosm of a person’s life, where if one does not acknowledge HaShem’s will voluntary, HaShem will, heaven forbid, coerce the person to accept His will in ways not to the person’s liking.
The Shabbos connection
This concept of accepting HaShem’s will is manifest on Shabbos, where we constantly supplicate HaShem to be appeased with our Shabbos observance. The requirement that we observe Shabbos was not given to us a choice, yet we still make choices regarding our level of observance and how much time we spend preparing for Shabbos. It should be HaShem’s will that we acknowledge His will and perform His will, and that we observe Shabbos with great joy and love for HaShem.
Shabbos Story
Now I can forgive you
Rabbi Mordechai Kamenetzky writes: In the city of Bnei Brak there are many Bar Mitzvah celebrations every Shabbos. It became very difficult for Rav Yaakov Yisrael Kanievski, the elder sage known to world Jewry as the Steipler Gaon to attend every Bar Mitzvah. In fact, he was old and weak and hardly had the strength to go to shul. One week, a Bar Mitzvah boy was honored with the maftir. Immediately after the davening, the Steipler Gaon was standing there in line, waiting to wish him Mazal Tov.
The Steipler Gaon bent down and began conversing in earnest with the neophyte member of the adult Jewish community. It seemed to the hushed crowd that this was much more than a perfunctory Mazel Tov wish.
The boy paled as he shook his head several times in amazement. "Of course, Rebbe!" he exclaimed. "Of course! There is no question. I feel terrible that the Rebbe felt he had to discuss this with me!"
The Steipler thanked the young boy, wished him Mazel Tov again, blessed him, and left the shul.
The entire congregation was shocked. What could the Steipler have wanted?
"Let me explain," began the boy. "Six years ago I was davening in this shul with a very large siddur (prayer book). The Steipler approached me and chided me for learning Gemara in the middle of the Tefillah. I showed him that it was a Siddur and that I actually was davening. He apologized and left.
Today the Steipler came to my Bar Mitzvah and reminded me of the story. He explained to me that even though he apologized for his mistaken reprimand six years ago, it was not enough. Since, at the time, I was a child under Bar Mitzvah, I did not have the frame of mind to truly forgive him. Even if I did forgive him, it had no halachic validity. The Steipler found out when my birthday was and waited for six years until my Bar Mitzvah. Today, I am halachically old enough to forgive him, and so, he came back today to ask my forgiveness!” [Reprinted with permission from]

Rav Shlomo Heiman Speaks To A Packed House
Rav Shlomo Heiman, zt”l, one of the first Roshei Mesivta in Torah Vodaas, was known for the excitement and enthusiasm with which he gave over his shiurim. When he gave over his shiur he would tremble, and sweat would appear on his glowing face. More than once, Rav Shlomo would faint at the conclusion of his shiur, which he would give over to his last ounce of strength.
In 1939, on a stormy and snowy day, only four talmidim arrived at the yeshivah. In a booming voice R’ Shlomo gave over his shiur as if hundreds of talmidim were crowded in the room listening. When the talmidim saw that he was utilizing all his strength to give over the shiur, they tried to stop him. “Rebbe, there’s only four of us here.”
Reb Shlomo retorted, “You think that I am only giving over the shiur to the four of you. You should know that my words are being given over to hundreds of talmidim. You, your future talmidim, and to their talmidim after them! (Chaim Sheyash Bahem) [Reprinted with permission from]

Shabbos: Ta’am HaChaim
Parashas Vayikra 5769
I will be giving a class in Navi on Shabbos afternoon at Beis Haknesses HaGra 14561 Lincoln in Oak Park, an hour before Minchah.
Have a wonderful and delightful Shabbos.
Prepared by Rabbi Binyomin Adler.
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