Illuminations #199, Adar B, 5779, Parshat Vayikra

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Illuminations #199, Adar B, 5779, Parshat Vayikra

Torah Gems

In Parshat Vayikra, we start learning about the different karbanos that were brought. When describing one of them, the Torah says, “When a man from among you brings an offering to Hashem –from animals, from the cattle or from the flock shall you bring your offering.” It is interesting to note that at the beginning of the verse it talks in singular form (when a man), while at the end it speaks in plural form. R’ Moshe Sternbuch points out a powerful message from this. Not only when we sin does it have an effect on us, it also effects the nation as a whole. We find that when your wife did not hear Kiddush and you did, you can still make Kiddush for her because we are all responsible for each other. Similiarly, we have a responsibility to each other regarding sin. For this very reason the Torah uses a singular form to start referring to the individual and a plural form at the end to signify that it atones for the nation as a whole. Rav Zeff Leff expounds on this and says we all want to change the world – to make it a better place. The best way to do this is to change yourself. If we all take an honest look at ourselves and take action to correct our flaws we can truly have a big effect on the world. As Purim approaches there is no better way to wipe out Amalek’s effect on us than to be truthful to ourselves and change our bad habits.

Parsha Pearls

When someone had to bring a korban for a sin, the type of sacrifice he brought depended on his financial status. The Torah says that if a person could not afford a sheep or goat he should bring two turtle- doves or two young doves. One could wonder why does the rich man bring one offering while the poor man brings two? The Ibn Ezra explains that someone poor may have negative feelings towards Hashem. He may reason that its unfair that he has a hard time supporting his family. As it is known, a pauper is considered dead because his situation is so difficult. Unfortunately he has to realize that it is the best thing for him, either because it is an atonement for sins or because Hashem wants to see if he can serve him even in poverty. To atone for those feelings, the poor person is required to give two different offerings, one for the first sin he did and a second for bearing a grudge against Hashem. The truth is, the Mishna in Pirkei Avos says that if a person truly serves Hashem when he is poor, he will end up serving Hashem when he is rich. Let us all push ourselves in whatever situation we are in to serve Hashem to the best of our ability. To those with money, be thankful to Hashem and remember the poor, especially as Purim is at our doorstep.

Glimpses of Greatness

The story is told of a time that Rav Yisrael Salanter entered the store of a shoemaker one evening. Rav Yisrael inquired of the shoemaker as to why he was still working if it was late and his candle would soon extinguish. The shoemaker replied, “As long as the candle is burning, there is still time to repair.” Rav Yisrael taught from here that as long as one is alive, he can grow and accomplish.