Thursday, April 27, 2006

Parshas Tazria

The parsha starts out talking about a woman that gives birth, and the purity/impurity processes, and how they different for a boy vs. a girl. The Torah than goes on to command her:
" תביא כבש בן שנתו לעלה ובן יונה או תר לחטאת אל פתח אהל מועד אל הכהן "

("...she shall bring a sheep within its first year for an olah-offering, and a young dove or a
turtledove for a sin-offering...")

We often take the Torah's language at face-value, so the simple understanding of this Pasuk is that the woman has to bring two sarcrifces - an Olah and a Chatas, in that order. However, Rashi comments that this isn't the case - that the Chatas is brought up first, and only then followed by the Olah. He explains that this is the order regarding the "reading" (the Kohanim would read the section of the Torah that deals with a particular offering before they would bring it), but it would be brought on the Altar in the opposite order. This begs the obvious question - why is the order different from the lashon of the Torah?

As a seemingly unrelated, but very related point, the Kedushas Levi wonders why the Torah calls Passover Chag haMatzos, but we call the holiday Pesach. He explains that when G-d refers to Passover as Chag haMatzos, he is giving shevach (praise) to us, saying "Shkoiyach to the Jewish people, who were mezarez (quick) in their exit from Egypt, not even having any food with them except Matzos". He continues, that we call the holiday Pesach because we are saying praise to Hashem, "Shkoiyach for passing over us by the plague of the first born".
Basically, the Kedushas Levi is saying that our relationship with Hashem is one of "Ani L'Dodi v'Dodi Li" (I am to my beloved as my beloved is to me). Hashem only wants to say Yasher Koach to us, and we only want to say Yasher Koach to him. He likens it to the Gemara in Brachos where it comments that Hashem likes to say "Mi K'amcha Yisrael" in praise of us, and we like to say "Shema Yisael..." in praise of Hashem. Ani Dodi v'Dodi Li.

A chaddishe sefer (I couldn't make out the name on the mp3) brings down the same logic by our question of why the Torah seems to imply that the Olah sacrifice comes first, but in reality, the Chatas is brought first. If we look at what the sacrifices, this makes sense. A Chatas sacrifice is a sin-offering, we use it for ourselves as a punishment and kapara for the sin. It is entirely for our benefit. However, a Olah offering is an elevation-offering, a gift completely for Hashem. So, when the Kohanim read the scriptures before bringing the sacrifices, they want to sing praise to Hashem, and they do that by reading our verse which mentions the Olah first - the one that is entirely for Hashem. But, at the end of the day, what G-d says goes, and he therefore chose to have us in mind first, as we bring our sacrifice (the Chatas) before his (the Olah).

It is human nature to be a bit selfish - to look our for onesself before all. This is entirely healthy, and nobody's asking anyone to do differently. However, it is easy to learn from this back-and-forth between the Jewish people and Hashem that in any situation you are in, while you should look out for yourself, make sure you are at least taking into account the other persons' position and think about where they are coming from, or what it may be like to be in their position.

This shiur was originally given by R' Baruch Simon, a Rosh Yeshiva at YU. I haven't read them, but I heard his seforim, Imrei Baruch, are great.


Anonymous Greg said...

The real reason there are two holidays, Chag HaMatzos and Chag HaPesach, is because the Torah really does delineate them as two seperate holidays. Chag HaPesach takes place the afternoon of the 14th of Nissan; Chag HaMatzos takes place starting the night of the 15th. The reason why we don't say Chag HaPesach in davening is because it isn't Chag HaPesach.

6:00 PM, April 27, 2006

Blogger AlanLaz said...

Interesting thought, Greg. I guess the Kedushas Levi disagreed, or else he'd have a tough time with his explanation.

6:04 PM, April 27, 2006

Anonymous Greg said...

I am not mekabel that the kedushas levi didn't know that. It's pashut pshat in the chumash. He's trying to explain the common practice of referring the chag as Pesach, for which he has composed a nice drush.

11:23 PM, April 27, 2006


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