Shabbos: Ta’am HaChaim Vayikra 5776

Vayikra 5776

New Stories Vayikra 5776

Shabbos: Ta’am HaChaim Vayikra 5776

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 explanations 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 in the Zemiros

Ki Eshmera Shabbos

This zemer was composed by the great medieval commentator and poet Avraham Ibn Ezra whose name is found in the acrostic of the verses. The Zemer focuses on Halachic aspects of the Shabbos observance.

דִּבְרֵי סְחוֹרָה אַף דִּבְרֵי מְלָכִים אֶהְגֶּה בְּתוֹרַת אֵל וּתְחַכְּמֵנִי, even to converse concerning necessary matters; commercial or political talk. I shall meditate in the Torah of G-d – it shall make me wise. We are all familiar that the word שבת forms an acrostic for the words שינה בשבת תענוג, sleep is pleasurable on Shabbos. There is an even more profound and, may we suggest, meaningful, acrostic to be found in the word שבת, and that is the words שעשועי בשבת תורה, my delight in Shabbos is in the Torah. A little extra sleep on Shabbos is recommended for Torah scholars who are preoccupied in Torah study throughout the week. For most people, however, should occupy themselves with Torah study on the Holy Shabbos.

Shabbos Stories

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!” (

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) (

Shabbos in Halacha

מוליד – Creating a  new Entity

Practical Applications

C. Freezing Liquids for Storage

One may not freeze liquids on Shabbos for storage, except to prevent spoilage.

D. Making Ice Cubes or Frozen Ices

One should not prepare ice cubes or make frozen ices on Shabbos, except in cases of necessity, i.e. in anticipation of guests or for Oneg Shabbos. Note: Some Poskim rule that is one allowed to make ice cubes for Shabbos use, even without particular necessity. They opine that the restriction against freezing applies only to liquids other than water.

Shabbos Ta’am HaChaim: Vayikra 5776

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New Stories Vayikra 5776

Fine Feathered Smells

The laws of the korbanos are difficult and complex. While the underlying theology and philosophy befuddle modern minds, the enormous symbolism, discipline, and commitment that they encompass leave lessons for the inhabitants of a techno-world to cherish. One of those lessons is garnered from the sacrifice of the poor man. The first chapter teaches us about the olah offering, one that is totally burned on the altar. The normal offering was a bull or male sheep; however, a pauper could bring a bird.

“He shall split it — with its feathers — he need not sever it; the Kohen shall cause it to go up in smoke on the Altar, on the wood that is on the fire — it is an elevation-offering, a fire-offering, a satisfying aroma to Hashem” (Leviticus 1:16-17).

The commentaries explain that as most of a bird’s pickings are from someone else’s property, and thus stolen, the Torah does not allow the innards to be served on the altar.

Therefore, in order to embellish an otherwise very paltry bird-offering (no pun intended), the wings remain, even though burning feathers emit a terribly foul smell.

What bothers me is the following question: Throughout the entire discussion of offerings, the theme of “a satisfying aroma to Hashem” is reiterated. And through our mortal nostrils we understand the concept of the succulent aroma of roast beef. But nothing smells worse than burning bird-feathers. So why do we end the chapter by seemingly feigning Heavenly pleasure by adding the words, “a satisfying aroma to Hashem”?

Rabbi Abraham Twerski tells the story of his grandfather, the Hornsteipler Rebbe.

The custom of the Chassidim was that when gathering for a meal, a large pot would be placed in front of the Rebbe, who would taste a mere morsel of its abundant bounty. He would then pass the rest shirayim to the Chasidim, who would wait anxiously to partake in the leftovers of the Holy Rebbe.

One Shabbos the Rebbe, accompanied by his Chasidim, stayed at the inn of a poor widow. The hostess brought out a sizeable bowl of cholent which was placed in front of the Rebbe.

As was his custom, he tasted a small portion and stopped. He licked his lips and smiled.

“This is truly delicious, I must have some more!”

The Chasidim were stunned. The Rebbe never ate more than a half-teaspoon before beginning the distribution. The Rebbe took a larger portion and again commented on its delightful taste. Then he ate more. He continued to eat, and within ten minutes the pot was empty. The Chasidim were shocked at the seemingly uncharacteristic gluttony of such a holy man.

Dismayed, the shammas returned to the kitchen with the empty pot, only to hear in disappointment that there was no more cholent. Coursing the inside of the pot with his index finger, the shammas tried to partake in some of the remnants of the cholent that the Rebbe had just devoured.

When he licked his finger and recoiled. As he rushed to find water, he realized why the Rebbe consumed the pot while singing the praises of its contents. He now understood why the Rebbe did not distribute it to the Chasidim. He did not want to embarrass the poor woman with a possible snide remark made by of one of his flock. For the woman had accidentally added kerosene to the cooking oil. For the Chasidim it may have stank, but to the Rebbe the taste was truly delicious.

When the Torah tells us to leave the feathers on the bird so as not to embarrass the pauper, it tells us as well what the burnt feathers will smell like to the Almighty. They will smell as sweet as the most succulent beef. Sparing embarrassment produces the sweetest smells to the Almighty. In the Philadelphia Yeshiva, a homeless beggar would often visit and stand in the corner of the Bais Medrash. The boys were not able to physically stand near the man because of the terrible odor. But Dr. Shimon Askowitz, would not only cheer the man he would bring him home to give him food and a bath in a most friendly and charming manner. To Dr. Askowitz, it seemed as if the man was bathed in cologne.

Like the pauper’s bird’s burnt feather, the Doctor smelled a “a satisfying aroma to HaShem.” Because to the nose that knows, the smell endured to save the embarrassment of a fellow Jew, is as fragrant as the finest epicurean delight. (

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