Parsha Vayikra and two segments on Pesach from Rabbi Gedalia Segal based on the teachings of Rabbi Usher Freund

Parsha Vayikra
Two segments on Pesach

Learning Sacrifices with Young Children

Hashem called to Moshe  and in this passuk  it teaches us that when the child comes to learn, this is the first Parsha young children learn when they are brought to the cheder.  This is the custom of the Jews when a three year old gets a Torah and he goes to the Rebbe and they teach him Vayikra.  The aleph is very small and it means learn, teach and the small is a youngster, teach Torah to the child.  The first step the child takes, they cover him with a talis so he should not see what he should not see, only the holy words of the torah and get used to seeing only pure things.  When he is very young we teach him to bring sacrifices.  We are living in a generation that we are not so willing to bring sacrifices.  The giving of the sacrifices could not be established even for one moment, only when the children of Israel are trustworthy to Hashem and to the fact that this torah has been given from one generation to another, father to son.  Every step we take we have to face the reality that we have in our surroundings.  We have to build our four sides that we are enveloped in, that should be a place for the divine presence to rest. And in this way we can protect ourselves from all types of foreign influences that would enter our homes.  On the eight day from when a child is born, they give him a briss mila and they tell him that with the blood that was spilled during the briss mila, you will live. The child sacrificed his life for Torah and mitzvahs and this way we can live the life in this world that we came to and entered.  Our rabbis tell us that when we teach the children in Vayikra, we are saying that the pure ones should come and learn purity.  The pure children should come before they taste any sin and they learn the sacrifices that atone and purify us from sin. 

In a sefer called yesod drasa, a person that learns the laws of the sacrifices the words that come out of his mouth are like a fire that burns and rises to the altar in the heavens, and that is the sacrifice that is desirable for the creator in the heavens.  If we think about this, the great importance of the sacrifices that rises up to the heavens and gives a pleasing sense to the Creator, then we have to make light when we say the sacrifices to day before we pray, not to skip over it, not to say it quickly, not to say it after we pray or not to swallow it up when the Rabbi goes over the Shemona Esrei .  Often it is said quickly because people are going to work. The saying of the korbonos is part of the torah and not less valuable than learning in yeshiva. 

We teach a child at three years old the value of the sacrifices and then even when he gets older he won’t treat it as something unimportant. \

The thoughts are the most important thing

A person that brings a sacrifice.  After we learned about making the tabernacle, Moshe and the nation of Israel made a place for the divine presence to dwell. Then comes this Parsha, bringing korbonos in the mishkan.  The Rambam says in this Parsha that the actions of people are completed in three ways, with thought, speech and with an act.  Hashem says that when a person sins he should bring a sacrifice, and put his hands on it and that is against deed. Then he should confess and that is for speech , and then he should burn in the fire the stomach and kidneys and that is for thoughts and desires and he should also burn the knees, that is for the hands and the feet of people that do the work and then he should throw the blood on the altar which is for the person’s blood and soul  when a person starts thinking that he sinned with his body and his soul and really he is deserving that his body should be burned if not for the kindness of the Creator that took a substitute and He forgave him through atoning with the sacrifice, that the blood of the sacrifice instead of his.  A soul for a soul.  It is brought in the seforim that the time the naviim used to sing, when they sacrificed a sacrifice, the souls of the people who heard it really left them because they were so shook up, the people, to the depths of their hearts when they saw against whom they sinned .. by these songs, their souls nearly left them and their tears spilled like water and it wiped away the stains of their sins.

The most honorable part of the sacrifice according to the Ramban was the thought.  After putting the hands on the sacrifices and saying the viduy, verbally expressing the sin, for deed and speech, came the four parts of the sacrifice, the shekita, when they received the blood, when they brought the blood to the altar and when they threw the blood on the altar. These four parts are against the thought, which is in the head.  And the kohen that sacrificed not according to the law, the sacrifice was not accepted, and he would get a punishment of death.

This is how great the power of the thought In a person is.  A thought is like where everything initiates for all o the actions of a person.  We have to be very careful with a thought to make sure it is not made impure, because every impure thought could make that the korban is not acceptable to Hashem,

The mitzvah which a person is ready to  sacrifice his soul

We have to be careful to not do mitzvahs by rote.  When a person does a mitzvah without thinking, that is what he does.  He prays by rote…it is not the right way .  we do a mitzvah with feeling and intent because hashem commands it.  How do we recognize if a person does a mitzvah because he thinks he is doing it or he is used to doing it.  There is an attribute of being willing to sacrifice one’s life.  When we do a mitzvah it is like we sacrifice our life for it.  A person should be ready to sacrifice himself and his speech for Hashem.  They came to Israel from Russia, many Jews, people who really sacrificed themselves to learn torah and do mitzvahs.  They tell a story that makes our hair stand on our head, how they kept the mitzvahs.  We sit and eat matzo and sit in the succah, it is a mitzvah but we don’t sacrifice for it. It could be we do something rote, but when people kept the mitzvahs with great strength, we see how they fear Hashem and they came out pure.

In Parshas Vayikra, we learn with young children, three years old, that come to learn Parshas Vayikra, and we try to teach them the mitzvah of sacrificing for the mitzvahs,  the rabbis tell us that the whole idea of sacrifices is to get a person ready that a person should think with all the laws of the sacrifice, the slaughter, the skinning, the burning…that these things were to happen to the person themselves, but hashem makes a sacrifice instead, and when a person sheds tears giving a sacrifice and it washes away his sins and he returns to Hashem, it is forgiven.  Today we don’t have  beis hamikdosh or an altar but we can sacrifice ourselves when we do a mitzvah.  It is incumbent on us to do this.  These are the sacrifices we do to atone for all of our sins.

The greatness of viduy, verbalize and admit to the sin

The passuk says we should say viduy about the sin and the person brings a sacrifice and says viduy and it is atoned.  When a person verbalizes it, that is the main part of the atonement.  Without the temple, we don’t have an altar but we can verbally admit our sins so that the sins can be forgiven.   A person has to say in detail what he did wrong and feel badly with all his heart and take upon himself truthfully that he won’t repeat and do it again.

Here is a story about the greatness of viduy.

There was a rich man and he made for his son a new suit that was beautiful and the boy wore it and she showed it off to his friends, and he was not careful and he fell into the mud and the suit got ruined.  The boy saw that his friends saw when he fell and he understood that they were going to go tell his father that he was not careful and then he would be punished. So what did he do?  When his friends were watching he ran to his father and cried and confessed that he was not careful and fell into the mud and his suit got ruined and what should I do now?  And his father said I will make you a new suit and next time be careful  and the child kissed his father .  and he went out and saw his friends coming to tell his father.  My bad friends my father knows and he forgave me.

Now we understand the story.  Dovid Hamelech in tehillim, go away from me all the prosecutors because Hashem already heard my cries. I already told him what I did wrong and He already has forgiven me

The way a Jewish leader acts according to Torah

The meaning of this is when a talmid chochim has good character attributes and is hones and he does not touch any one’s money.  The Torah that has a leader it is fortunate for the generation that he is their leader. It says when a leader of the nation does a sin, he brings a sacrifice and the Torah tells us how.  When the leader sins, it is fortunate for the generation that the leader pays attention to bring a sacrifice that will bring for his wrongdoing that was a mistake and he feels badly for what he did intentionally. To bring a sacrifice is not a simple thing.  A leader brings the sacrifice in front of the whole nation, in the beis hamikdosh, and he does viduy and is his honor reduced that he brings a sacrifice?  Not at all, it is praiseworthy that the leadership is like that.  They are not afraid of being made a mockery.  He brings a sacrifice in front of everyone, making a good example not to be embarrassed to repent.

When we see today how our leaders look, that instead of them elevating the nation in their spiritual standing which needs to be elevated through their example, instead they bring the generation to lower

depths.  The leader of the generation elevate the idea of repentance by not being embarrassed to bring it in front of the whole nation.  It is not like leadership that is not embarrassed to do everything wrong in front of the nation.  We say this is the leadership we have today. What do we do with our situation ?  we have to decide that these are not our leaders.  A leader of Israel is just someone that has fear of heaven and fear of sin and is not embarrassed to repent in front of everyone when he makes a mistake.

Being involved with the laws of sacrifices

When the holy temple stood in its beauty in Yerushalayim the kohanim brought the sacrifices and the leviim were singing and the lights shined on the abode of the Jews and influenced the lives of the Jews and he felt the holiness of the divine presence and he feared Hashem and he did not sin and when someone made a sin by mistake he had to bring a sacrifice to atone for his sin.  And he had to go if he lived in the north or south to the beis hamikdosh, put his hands on the head of the sacrifice, his heart was broken and then he went away from there pure from his sin and he had it engraved on his head that he should not stumble and make this mistake.   That is how the sacrifice was done and its reward.

We don’t have this now, this sacrificial service, no altar to atone, so our holy rabbis say that a person who learns the laws of sacrifices is like he brought the sacrifices.  It doesn’t say one who reads it, it says the one who engages in the laws of the sacrifices, that he learns them and to know it. So now we have in our hands to sacrifice sacrifices day by day but we don’t do it correctly.  When it comes to Parsha Vayikra we should understand it and learn the laws of the sacrifices, including the Rashi and we can’t have any excuse that we don’t have enough time or it is not possible for us to do it.   A person should not forget that because of the many trees he does not see the forest.  It could be that he is so involved with his work that he forgets the real work, his real obligation.  How much do we ask in our prayers and on Shabbos to bring sacrifices we are obligated in.  we have it in our hands and  we have to do what our rabbis teach us.  Let’s start when we learn Vayikra to actually learn it and to understand it and to think about these halachas that are involved in the korbonos so that we should find an atonement.

The people that are engaged in the laws of the sacrifices, it is said about them that they built the temple in their days, anyone who engages in the sacrifices of the chatas is as if he sacrificed it.

Now that we don’t have sacrifices, if you engage in the study it is as if you sacrificed them.

Hashem said, Avraham all of the time that your children are engaged in two things they are saved in two things, learning torah and learning about the sacrifices saves from gehinnim and from being under the subjugation of the nations,

Slavery to freedom

A person all throughout the days of the year is in the 49th level of providing sustenance to himself and family to bring food to the household and the needs are great and we work with all of our body parts day and night with mortar and bricks like a work of avodas Terach like they had in mitzrayim, we are enslaved to our work and our material needs all the days of our life and even at night.  Sometimes we are engaged even at night working for sustenance. But for our spiritual needs, how embarrassing is it when there is nothing left over for us.  The body is created to help us worship the creator, the real purpose and the soul laments on its bitter lack.  What we have to try to do is to give time for our spiritual needs as well, set aside times for learning the Torah, because at the day of judgment they are going to demand from us that all of the hours that we spend for material needs, you have to think about the hours for ruchnius and educating children.  Because these are also our needs because otherwise there is no purpose to our lives.  The night of the seder is set aside for this.  We think about our enslavement all year, enslaved for our material needs.  We think about the shame of the soul that is exiled within us and may not be getting its needs.  In the Hagadda when we say we were exiled and then freed we pay attention to our own exile in mitzrayin and the work that we are enslaved to even though we don’t have anyone enslaving us and we have to take upon ourselves to go to a certain freedom so the enslavement won’t be so time consuming and we should be free to learn Torah and do good deeds.

The holiday of spring and freedom

Now we talk about the month of spring when everything in the creation blooms, the trees and the grass start growing and sprouting leaves and the whole creation sings towards the Creator and this time is when our holiday of freedom, Chag HaPesach.  The awakening of the blooming after a long period of cold is symbolic of our redemption,  The bitter exile that we had in mitzrayim was with mortar and bric and they screamed to Hashem because the work was so much and many people work today so hard, in the heat of the summer and the cold of the winter, with the wind that is blowing and the rain that is pouring.  The main exile that the people had in mitzrayin was that they were enslaved to a nation that were idol worshipers.  It doesn’t say that we worked, but that we were slaves.  It is not the work itself that was the exile, but who we were enslaved to.  The Jewish people are children of the holy fathers, Avrahanm Yitzack and Yaakov, they raised the flag of emunah, pure belief, in two worlds, this world and the world to come.  And now we were enslaved to people on a very low low spiritual level.  The cruel king Pharoah did not care to wash his body that had tzaraas in the blood of the Jewish children.  And he did not remember the good that Yosef did in saving his land from the hunger and did so much good that the other countries had to come to mitzrayim to get bread. He and his people were wicked people on a low spiritual level and they were the masters of this chosen nation that was chosen by the Creator to be the nation of Torah.  Just like the Abarbanel said, most of the anguish is that we were enslaved to people of such a low spiritual nature.  That is why we say we were enslaved in a shameful way of work and we were the holy nation and we were enslaved to Pharoah, a cruel and low spiritual level person in a land of impurity and when we went out from dark to light, from work to freedom, in this time of spring time, how much is it incumbent on us to express our gratitude for the great miracles and all the good that He brought us to Sinai and gave us the Torah and made us a nation of priests and a holy nation.

Vulnerable Shares to help us discern and recognize where Elokim is trapped and dragging us into darkness – by showering compassion on that deep place, and asking for His Mercy, we will to become a channel for the pure light to flow into the world, our unique individual relationship with Hashem

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