Vol 27.02 - Vayikra 2 Spanish French Audio Video
|Hebrew Text: Rambam-Issurei Mizbeiach Talmud-Shabbat|
1. At the conclusion of Hilchot Issurei Mizbeiach (“Things Forbidden on the Altar”- 7:11), after Rambam lists the categories of oil that are acceptable for the Menorah. He then states, “However, they are all acceptable for meal-offerings.
Rambam then continues in a separate Halacha:
“Since all of these categories of oil are acceptable for meal-offerings, why were they listed? So that one would know the superior category that nothing surpasses, those which are equal, and those which are inferior. In this way, one who desires to gain merit for himself, subjugate his evil inclination, and amplify his generosity should bring his sacrifice from the most desirable and superior type of the item he is bringing. For it is written in the Torah (Gen. 4:4): "And Hevel brought from his choice flocks and from the superior ones and G-d turned to Hevel and his offering."
“The same applies to everything given for the sake of the Al-mighty who is good. It should be of the most attractive and highest quality. If one builds a house of prayer, it should be more attractive than his own dwelling. If he feeds a hungry person, he should feed him from the best and most tasty foods of his table. If he clothes one who is naked, he should clothe him with his attractive garments. If he consecrates something, he should consecrate the best of his possession. And so (Lev. 3:16) states: "All of the superior quality should be given to G-d."
One must understand:
The law is that one must bring “from the choicest” (מן המובחר). Rambam already stated previously in the beginning of the chapter:
“Not every entity that is not invalid may be brought. . Rather anyone who brings for a sacrifice should bring from the highest quality”.
This is derived from the verse (as Rambam already cited in the previously Halacha):
“From the choice of your vow(s)” (מבחר נדריכם)
Therefore, what is the reason for a new Halacha here, where Rambam is adding and innovating, that:
2. Plainly, one could learn that in this aspect of “from the choicest” regarding Korbanot, there are many levels, as is implied by Rambam himself:
This is similar to what Rambam state in chapter 2 (2:8):
“There are four other ailments that if found in an animal (prevent) it from being sacrificed.
(An animal with an eruption in the white of its eye, but it does not have hair growing from it; if the substance of the horns was reduced, etc.)
If an animal has one of these blemishes, it is not sacrificed because it is not from the choicest; and Scripture states, "from the choice of your vows."
In such a case, even though it is lacking this level of “choicest”– one should not offer it, at the outset, as Rambam states in the beginning of chapter 7 (cited above):
“Not every entity that is not invalid may be brought (as a sacrifice) at the onset. What is implied? If one is obligated to bring a burnt offering, one should not bring a weak and unattractive sheep and (justify oneself saying): "It does not have a blemish." Concerning this, can be applied the verse: "Cursed be the deceiver . . (who sacrifices a blemished animal to G-d)." Instead, anyone who brings a sacrifice should bring from the highest quality.”
(Moreover, as this is also understood from Rambam’s words in Hilchot Maaseh HaKorbanot (16:4):
“A person who vowed to bring an ox, a ram, a lamb, a calf, or the like should not bring the frailest specimen of that species etc. Nor is he obligated to bring the nicest, fattest specimen of which there is no better. Instead, he should bring an average animal (הבינוני). If he brought a frail animal, he fulfilled his vow”.
There, it is speaking about a vow. Yet Rambam does not state, at all, that one should not bring a good and fat offering because it should be from the choicest of your vows).
“One who desires to gain merit for himself, should subjugate his evil inclination, and amplify his generosity and bring his sacrifice from the most desirable and superior type of the item”.
Not just an offering that is not “weak and unattractive”, nor one that is “average” or even above-average. Rather, “the most attractive and highest quality”.
This is derived by Rambam, not from the verse “From the choice of your vows”, but rather from that which one lists the various types of oil. Moreover, Rambam cites from the verse,
"And Hevel brought from his choice flocks and from the superior ones” and
"All of the superior quality should be given to G-d."
Specifically, from this, Rambam learns,
“The same applies to everything given for the sake of the Al-mighty who is good. It should be of the most attractive and highest quality”.
(Whereas, the law of “From the choice of your vows” is a specific law regarding Korbanot).
This is also proven from the continuation of Rambam’s words here:
“Since all of these categories of oil are acceptable for meal-offerings, why were they listed?“
For seemingly, it is not understood:
Rambam already states in a previous Halacha (7:9),
“Even though they are all acceptable (to be brought) with the meal offerings, there is nothing that surpasses the first category. Afterwards, the second etc.”
Therefore, one can understand the reason for Rambam’s writing, “why were they listed?”. The law of “From the choice of your vows” was already cited by Rambam, beforehand. Must one indeed know these levels in the oils, in order to be able to fulfill “from the choicest”?
Therefore, from this itself, it is proven (געדרונגען) that due to the obligation of “from the choicest” , it is not necessary to know these levels. For “from the choicest” solely negates just “weak and unattractive sheep”. However, it is not an obligation to bring the choicest.
Therefore, Rambam says, “why were they listed?”, and it is a reason just for that which. “one who desires to gain merit for himself”.
3. One must however understand:
Since the law in Rambam is not specifically connected with Korbanot.
(not like the law of “From the choice of your vows”, which specifically pertains to Korbanot, as aforementioned).
Rather, it is a general law for everything which is connected with G-d, as Rambam states,
“The same applies to everything given for the sake of the Al-mighty who is good”.
(as he cites examples of this).
Why, therefore, does Rambam first state it here in Hilchot Issurei Mizbeiach, and not previously in Hilchot Matanot Aniyim (in conjunction to the very example here: “If he feeds a hungry person .. If he clothes one who is naked etc.”
Like in the Shulchan Aruch, where the law in Rambam is cited in Hilchot Tzedakah. Or even earlier- in Hilchot Tefillah?
(in conjunction to the first example in Rambam: “If one builds a house of prayer etc.”)
Moreover, Rambam cites in Hilchot Tefillah many laws regarding the manner of building a Beit Haknesset and how it should be. Such as, that it must be “higher than all the courtyards of the city etc.”. It would therefore have been fitting for Rambam to cite there that “one who desires to gain merit for himself” should build a house of prayer in a manner that it is, “more attractive than his own dwelling”, and in conjunction with this to cite all the details of the laws which are included in the general obligation of: “All of the superior quality should be given to G-d”.
One must also understand the examples that Rambam cites regarding, “everything given for the sake of the Al-mighty who is good. It should be of the most attractive and highest quality”:
The Talmud states the obligation of,
“Beautify yourself before Him in Mitzvot”
(which is derived from the verse “This is my G-d and I will glorify Him”)
and cites these examples:
“Make before Him a beautiful sukkah, a beautiful lulav, a beautiful shofar, beautiful Tzitzit, a beautiful Sefer Torah (written with). . beautiful ink, a beautiful quill by an expert scribe, and wrap the scroll in beautiful fabric”.
Why does Rambam cite here other examples?
4. One could say that the explanation is:
When one learns this at first glance, it comes out that the difference between this law in Rambam, at the conclusion of Hilchot Issurei Mizbeiach, and the Halacha of “From the choice of your vows” which Rambam speaks about previously, resides in that which “From the choice of your vows” is a law in the object (חפצא) (your vows). It is related to the body of the sanctity of the Korban. Therefore, there must not be any inferiority (פחיתות) in it, even not (in its appearance, that it be) “weak and unattractive”, similar to “a disgrace to the sacrifices”.
Whereas, the law in the conclusion of Hilchot Issurei Mizbeiach,
“One should bring his sacrifice from the most desirable and superior type of the item he is bringing”,
is not a law in the object of the Korban. Rather, it is a law incumbent upon the person (גברא), as Rambam precisely writes:
“One who desires to gain merit for himself, should subjugate his evil inclination etc.”.
Therefore, this is also not a particular law of Korbanot. Rather it is a general law of,
“everything (which the person connects with) the sake of the Al-mighty who is good”.
It applies even to other Mitzvot. It is a beautification (Hiddur) of the deeds of the person – as Rambam writes, “one who desires to gain merit for himself”. Anything that a person does and brings for the sake of G-d should be “of the most attractive and highest quality”.
One could say that Rambam forewarns this by citing the law of meal-offerings
(“Since all of these categories of oil are acceptable for meal-offerings for meal-offerings, why were they listed?”)
and brings the proof,
“For it is written in the Torah: ‘And Hevel brought etc."
With this, Rambam conveys that bringing a Korban,
“from the most desirable and superior type of the item”
is connected with the scope of Korbanot (meal-offerings) which is related (not just to the act of the person, but also) to the object of the Korban.
This is emphasized in the proof:
“For it is written in the Torah, ‘And Hevel brought from his choice flocks and from the superior ones and G-d turned to Hevel and his offering’".
Rambam does not suffice with the words,
"And Hevel brought from his choice flocks and from the superior ones”
Rather, he also cites the continuation of the verse. And not just the words,
"G-d turned etc.” but even more - “to Hevel and to his offering."
For with this, Rambam emphasizes that the offering of the Korbanot, “of the most attractive and highest quality”– is not just an aspect that is related to the deed of the person. Rather it is also related to the object of the Korban.
G-d’s turning was not just,
“to Hevel” (because he subjugated his inclination)
but also (and as a separate aspect)
“and to his offering."
5. The reasoning of this is:
The difference between the fulfillment of Mitzvot and the aspect of the Korbanot (in general) with regard to the object is:
The fulfillment of Mitzvot is mainly in the deed of the person. The person fulfills G-d’s command that is incumbent upon him. However, the fulfillment is carried out through the object. There are many levels in the actions that are performed in the object, for example:
All this, however, is not the intent of the person’s deed. A person’s concern is – fulfilling his Mitzvah. However, through the person’s deed, it affects the object. (Tashmishei Mitzvah, Tashmishei Kedusha etc.)
However, regarding Korbanot, the scope of the Mitzvah – is the sanctity of the Korban itself. In other words, that which he consecrates and gives the thing away to G-d. Through this, there is also the fulfillment of the Mitzvah. In offering the Korban, he fulfills the vow which he took upon himself to offer a Korban, and so forth. Or, he fulfills his Mitzvah to offer the specific Korban that he is obligated to bring.
The primary objective, however, is not the person fulfilling the Mitzvah. Rather, it is primarily, the accomplishment (פעולה) in the object – the offering of a Korban to G-d, giving away the animal etc. to G-d.
The order in this, is that beforehand the person consecrates the animal, afterward he brings it to the Beit HaMikdash etc. until it is offered (through the assignment (בשליחות) of the owner of the Korban) on the Altar.
In a simpler manner:
All Mitzvot, even after the object, through which the Mitzvah is fulfilled becomes a Tashmishei Mitzvah, and so forth, remains in the ownership of the person. The thing that a person gives to G-d, and which G-d “takes” from him – is effected in the offering of the Korban (איז בהקרבת קרבן).
6. This is the difference between the law of Hiddur Mitzvah (beautification of a Mitzvah), which the Talmud derives from the verse,
“This is my G-d and I will glorify Him”
and Rambam’s law,
“One should bring his sacrifice from the most desirable and superior type of the item”.
The law of Hiddur Mitzvah is – like the Mitzvah itself – not (so much) because of the object. Rather, it because of the fulfillment of the Mitzvah of the person. This is like the wording of the Talmud,
“Beautify yourself before Him in Mitzvot”.
Namely, that the Mitzvah which the person fulfills is “and I will glorify Him”. Therefore, “Make before Him a beautiful sukkah, a beautiful lulav etc.”.
By making the deed (מעשה) with which one performs the Mitzvah - beautiful, the fulfillment of the Mitzvah of the person is in a manner of, “Beautify yourself before Him” – before G-d.
However, regarding Korbanot, the offering of the Korban, “from the most desirable and superior type” is not (just) because of, “Beautify yourself before Him” – of the person. Rather, it is the opposite. This is a part and detail of the scope of the Korban to G-d. Namely, that the Korban to G-d, which is manifest in the sanctity and offering to G-d (giving it to G-d) is complete and more beautiful (בהידור יותר).
7. This is the reason why Rambam first brings this law, in Hilchot Issurei Mizbeiach. for this aspect is related to the scope of the “Altar/Mizbeiach”.
It is related to the Halachot of the Altar (Hilchot (Issurei) Mizbeiach), (even) more than to Hilchot Maaseh Hakorbanot (the Halachot relating to Korbanot):
The main point of the aspect of a Korban – is that it is a Korban to G-d. Although a person’s actions in this, begins from his consecrating the Korban. However, the primary thing is the completion of the Korban, in its being offered on the Altar. At that time, it becomes the “food of the Altar” (לחמו של מזבח), it becomes a part of the Supernal Table (שולחן גבוה).
Therefore, this aspect of a person,
“broadening his generosity and bringing his sacrifice from the most desirable and superior type of the item”, which evokes the completeness of giving to G-d,
in a Korban – is related, not, so much, to the essential scope of the “consecrated items” or the “act of the Korbanot” – which includes all the details in the act of the Korban. Moreover, not just the detail of the offering of the Korban on the Altar.
Rather to the Halachot of the Altar itself - the completion and completeness of the Korban, which this is through his offering it on the Altar.
8. With this, it is understood why Rambam states these examples of “building a house of prayer etc.”)
(That they have the same law as, “It should be of the most attractive and highest quality.”)
and not the examples of the Talmud:
Here, it is not speaking about the scope of Hiddur Mitzvah, a Hiddur in the thing with which one performs the Mitzvah. Rather, it is speaking about,
“everything given for the sake of the Al-mighty who is good”.
Everything which is comparable to a Korban on the Altar – in that which one gives. “for the sake of the Al-mighty who is good”:
Similarly, regarding the two middle cases,
“If he feeds a hungry person and if he clothes one who is naked etc.”
The Rogatchover Gaon explains that in Tzedakah there are two boundaries:
This is the emphasis of Rambam’s writing:
“If he feeds a hungry person . . if he clothes one who is naked etc.”
For these aspects of Tzedakah are connected with “Tzedakah which is scope of atonement”.
This is like the subject of the verse,
“Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and moaning poor you shall bring home; when you see a naked one, you shall clothe him, and from your flesh you shall not hide.”
Where the prophet is speaking about the deeds that a Yid must do on the day of a fast, for the purpose of one’s Teshuvah and atonement (similar to – Korbanot).
9. The reasoning of the relation of the two aspects in the law of, “One should bring his sacrifice from the most desirable and superior type of the item”.
can be explained:
The completion and completeness of the sanctity of a Korban to G-d, which is through its being offered on the Altar, is itself the reason for G-d’s contentment (ריצוי) and the atonement of the person which the Korban accomplishes.
Therefore, the more there is,
subjugating of one’s evil inclination and amplifying one’s generosity, and bringing one’s sacrifice from the most desirable and superior type of the item he is bringing, in the person’s giving to G-d –
the more there is the addition in the completeness of the atonement and contentment towards the person (ריצוי של הגברא).
(which the Altar accomplishes) – “to gain merit for himself”.
Similarly, as we find many categories in the acceptance (ריצוי) of the Korban (that is connected with the person ‘s intent), such as questions in Korbanot regarding as to whether they may or may not atone for their owners (כיפר ולא כיפר), the difference between the acceptance of a Korban that was mistakenly offered for the sake of a Sin-offering (חטאת) the acceptance of a Korban that was mistakenly offered for the sake of a burnt-offering (עולה), and others.
This is more apt according to what is brought in the commentators. especially in Ramban’s commentary on the Torah, regarding the reasons for the Mitzvah of a Korban.
Ramban explains the reason why Korbanot atone,
“So that a person think in doing all of this that he sinned to his G-d with his body and his soul, and it is fit for him that his blood be spilled and his body burnt; were it not for the kindness of the Creator, who took an exchange from him . . the blood (of the Korban) instead of his blood and its soul instead of his soul”.
Since this is so, it is understood that subjugating one’s evil inclination is not an ancillary thing, in this aspect of offering a Korban on the Altar. Or at least, another detail in the aspect of the Korban. Rather, this is the entire scope (גאגצער גדר) of the Korban – “subjugating one’s evil inclination”. In this, the acceptance (ריצוי) and the atonement of the Korban, is manifest.
10. According to this, one can explain the reason why the law of,
“subjugating one’s inclination . .and bringing his sacrifice from the most desirable and superior type”
is specifically derived from the oils of the meal-offerings:
The theme of a Korban is that a Yid gives himself away to G-d (through subjugating his evil inclination etc.)
However, when is this true and complete? When one’s giving himself away is completely to G-d without any accountings (חשבונות). Specifically then, is this appeasing and atoning – a full and complete atonement.
This is also the reason why we learn this specifically from the oils for the meal-offerings. This is similar to the statement of the Sages that specifically regarding a meal-offering – Korban Mincha – does it state:
“And if an individual (nefesh) brings a meal offering etc.” (ונפש כי תקריב)
“The Holy One, Blessed be He, said: Whose practice is it to bring a meal-offering? It is that of a poor individual; and I will ascribe him credit as if he offered up his soul (nafsho) before Me”.
For this is specifically regarding a meal-offering.
He is not bringing a large and fat ox, but rather the meagerest of a Korban. Yet this emphasizes how, “he offered up his soul before Me”. For, regarding this person there is no feeling of self - that “he” is offering a Korban with Hiddur and completeness. Moreover, that “he” is a “beautiful Yid” (שיינער איד) who brings a Korban and - with Hiddur.
On the contrary, he feels true broken-heartedness, the subjugation of the inclination. So much so, that it leads to a slaughtering of the inclination (זביחת היצר) and therefore it is, “as if he offered up his soul before Me”.
11. Through this manner of offering, where one,
“subjugates his evil inclination. . and brings his sacrifice from the most desirable and superior type of the item”,
there comes the end and conclusion of the Halachot of the Altar (Hilchot (Issurei) Mizbeiach).
Namely, that after the beginning actions of the Altar to atone for his soul, the atonement of the “forbidden” – “Asur” (אסור) from the word “bound and tied” (אסור וקשור) to evil – there comes and is accomplished the act of the Altar, in completeness. And it is contented to him to atone for him – to atone before G-d to evoke contentment to his Master (נח״ר לקונו) as the Sages state:
The term מזבח /mizbeiach - Altar - (is an acrostic representing its qualities):
When the cause of the Churban and Galut will be nullified – namely, sins (our transgressions) – the result (מסובב) will immediately and instantly be nullified – the “we have been exiled from our Land” and “we will immediately be redeemed” - through our righteous Moshiach.
He will build the Beit HaMikdash in its place, and especially the Altar whose “place is very exact”. He will gather the displaced of Yisroel, speedily and in our days, mamosh.
M’Sichas Shabbat Parshat Tavo, 5745
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