Parshas Vayikrah 5776
Candle Lighting Time: 6:53 pm
March 18, 2016
Volume 12 Issue 20
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Dvar Torah


Practical Mussar

  By Rabbi Yosef Prupas

The Kuzari warns us that intellectual reasoning alone will never give us the full picture of closeness to G-d which the Korbanos (or, for that matter many other Mitzvos,) gave. The Korbanos are G-d's Will - and doing His Will gives us an element of spirituality which intellect alone could never anticipate. Korbanos are a Chok, never to be fully grasped by man, and it would be tragic for man to reduce the full force of G-d's wisdom to the limitations of our own understanding. Therefore any explanation of such an esoteric concept can never do true justice to the entire picture. However, its ever present reality demands that we extrapolate the lessons that can be learnt on our respective intellectual levels of understanding.
The Ramban famously writes, that since the acts of man are comprised of thought, speech, and action, G-d commands that when an individual sins and brings an animal sacrifice, he should rest his hands upon its head, corresponding to the element of action; he should verbally confess what he did wrong, corresponding to the element of speech; he should burn the innards and kidneys that are the seat of all human thought and passion, and the animal's limbs, corresponding to the sinner's hands and feet, which carry out all of his activity; and he should cast the sacrifice's blood upon the altar to bring to mind the phrase, "his blood will be on his soul." [This is] so that the person doing [or watching] all of these actions will come to realize that he has sinned against God with his body and his soul, and that he deserves that his own blood be spilled and his body burned, had it not been for the compassion of the Creator who has accepted a substitute instead. Therefore the sacrifice atones by its blood corresponding to the sinner's blood, its soul corresponding to the sinner's soul, its limbs corresponding to the sinner's limbs; and the portions (that are given to the Kohanim) will give life to Torah teachers, who in turn will pray on his behalf.
The Chinuch adds, that the reason sacrifices are from bread, wine, and meat, is because these are central items of importance in a person's life. Therefore a person's heart is greatly affected when using these items in the process of serving G-d.
The Chinuch further explains that animals are biologically very similar to a human being - are only difference in intellect. Seeing the animal slaughtered has a tremendous impact on ones psyche, making the effects of sin very real. Burning this animal without intellect, vividly drives home the point that a person who lives without thinking will end up being nothing - like his sacrifice. At the time, one will come to appreciate his own existence and realize that he lives for a higher purpose. This visual lesson has the greatest potential to redirect a person away from sin.
One might think that for the Peace Offering the above explanation is not applicable, and therefore why should it be a form of sacrifice? The Chinuch beautifully explains that it is a Mussar lesson about life, how to be grateful, and focused on doing the right thing. By bringing such sacrifices, a person inculcates within himself the right perspective, thus potentially preventing him from sinning in the first place. The harmonious existence indicated by the dividing the parts between G-d, the Kohanim, and himself, imbues him with the lesson of maintaining the right balance between the spiritual and the physical, and that it all serves to bring one closer to G-d.
The Prophet Hoshea says, "Take words with you, and turn to the Lord. Say to Him: forgive all iniquity and receive us graciously, so we will offer the words of our lips instead of calves." Although we may not have the enhanced ability to learn the above lessons, as it was in the time of the Beis Hamikdash, the prophet reveals to us, that by reciting the Service of the Sacrifices, one can accomplish the same even in our present state. May we merit the day soon that only offerings that will be brought will be the "Peace Offerings," indicating the peaceful and harmonious relationship between the Jewish People and G-d.

Dvar Halacha
Laws of Purim   
Part 3
  By  Rabbi Yochanan Eskenazi
Every person is required to give matanos l'evyonim (gifts to the poor) to two separate poor people (Shulchan Aruch 694:1).  Women are also obligated (Rama 695).  Many opinions hold that poor people are also obligated (Mishneh Berurah 694:1).  It is important to note, that two matanos are the minimal obligation.  It is preferable to give more money to the poor than it is to spend on seudas Purim and mishloach manos, because there is greater simcha (joy) than being me'samach (gladden) the hearts of poor people, widows, and orphans, and whoever brings them simcha is comparable to the Omnipresence (Mishneh Berurah 694:3 quoting the Rambam).
One is supposed to give a davar chashuv (respectable amount) (Mishneh Berurah 694:2).  There is a dispute amongst the Poskim how much this amount is.  Some Poskim hold the amount should be equivalent of the price to buy a respectable meal [e.g., two slices of pizza and a drink] (Rabbi Herschel Welcher, shlit"a).  According to Harav Shmuel Kamenetsky, shlit"a, $1 is considered a davar chashuv (Koveitz Halachos 16:2).  When Harav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach zt"l was asked how much one is required to give, he would advise just to make sure, one should give a davar chashuv for both the giver and receiver (Halichos Shlomo Moadim 2:19:ftnt. 62).
The matonos evyonim should be given specifically on Purim day and not by night (Mishneh Berurah 695:22, Be'ur Halachah 694:1 s.v. l'shnei aniyim).  One may write a check,even if it cannot be cashed that day (Koveitz Halachos 16:3 & ftnt. 3 quoting Harav Moshe Feinstein, zt"l).  One should not use maaser money for matanos l'evyonim, however, any additional amount of money more than the minimum obligation may come from maaser money (Mishneh Berurah 694:3).
The Shulchan Aruch [694:3] rules "anyone who sticks out his hand [for money] you should give him."   In other words this means that on Purim anyone who asks you for money you should give him [and you do not need to check out if he is really a poor or not].   This halachah only applies to someone who is collecting for himself, however if he is collecting for an organization one is not required to give them (Koveitz Halachos 16:1).
Every person is obligated to send two food [or drink] items to one person, as stated in Megillas Esther [9:19] "U'mishalaich manos ish leray'ahu" (Shulchan Aruch 695:4).  Both items should be given together at the same time (Koveitz Halachos 17:18 & ftnt. 19 quoting Reb Y.S. Eliyashuv, zt"l).  Whoever does more than this is praiseworthy (Shulchan Aruch 695:4).  When one gives his friend mishloach manos, this causes friendship (Shu"T Binyan Tzion 44).  The two foods should be two separatetypes of food, but they do not have to be two separate brachos (Koveitz Halachos 17:2).  It is preferable to send a food item that is useable as is [and will not need to be cooked] (Mishneh Berurah 695:20).  Additionally, they should be something that is acceptable to give to a guest that visits [e.g. a piece of cake, as opposed to just one candy] (Koveitz Halachos 17:6-12).  One has only fulfilled his obligation, if the recipient receives his mishloach manos on Purim day (Rama 695:4).  Therefore, if one sends mishloach manos before Purim, however the recipient did not receive it until Purim, one has fulfilled his obligation.
There is an opinion that one can only be fulfill his mitzvah of mishloach manos if it is delivered via a shliach (messenger) (Mishneh Berurah 695:18 quoting Shu"T Binyan Tzion 44).  The reason is, that Posuk [Esther 9:19] says "U'mishloach", which implies that it needs to be sent.  Therefore, many people are careful to give at least one mishloach manos via a messenger, to try to fulfill one's obligation according to all opinions.

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