Vayikra - Shabat Zachor

March 12th, 2022

9th of Adar II 5782


Repentance – the Purpose of Korbanot

Rabbi David Hanania Pinto

“Speak to the Children of Israel and say to them: When a man among you brings an offering to Hashem: from animals – from the cattle or from the flock shall you bring your offering” (Vayikra 1:2).

Why were Bnei Yisrael commanded to bring animal offerings to Hashem? Would it not be enough for man to repent for his sins and thereby return to Hashem?

The Ramban expounds on the idea of korbanot (Vayikra 1:9): “When a person brings an offering, slaughters it, sprinkles the blood on the Mizbeach, and burns its innards and kidneys, he must remember that all these acts should have really been done to his own body. He should imagine to himself that since he sinned, he really should be slaughtered and offered on the Mizbeach as a fire-offering to Hashem. However, Hashem, in His great mercy, allows him to bring an animal offering in his place, “a life for a life,” and all these acts are done to the offering to atone for his sins. As soon as a person realizes this, he will immediately repent.”

Animals joyfully and willingly allow themselves to be offered as korbanot, and we come across many incidents demonstrating their self-negation and submission.

Chazal tell us about an ox that was supposed to be offered as a korban, but it obstinately refused to approach the Mizbeach until a poor man came and offered it some green leaves. The ox ate the leaves and then began jumping wildly from the stress of eating, causing a needle to be dislodged from its mouth. The ox then willingly allowed itself to be led to the Mizbeach. It had previously refused due to the needle that might have rendered it an unfit korban. This is absolutely amazing!

Even though animals do not have a soul or G-dly essence, they nevertheless wish to do Hashem’s will and are happy to be offered on the Mizbeach for His sake, serving as an example to us of the way to perform Hashem’s will.

But unfortunately, there are many people who fail to internalize this message due to feelings of conceit. Their lack of humility and self-negation prevent them from learning this lesson from the animals, and they do not see the need to improve their ways.

Some sins are applicable to men and others to women, each according to his level and share in Torah. Therefore, the Torah tells us to bring offerings from both male and female animals, to rectify the entire range of sins.

The Torah instructs us to bring offerings from animals because they do not try to change their essence. They acknowledge their essence, recognize their Master, and do not rebel against Him. They are always happy to do Hashem’s will. On the other hand, human beings are more complex than animals. Animal were chosen to atone for man so that each man too should learn from them to recognize his Creator and perform His will wholeheartedly.

This explains why we are commanded to bring korbanot, and why from both male and female animals. A man must take care not to transgress the mitzvot he is obligated to observe, and the woman too must fulfil those mitzvot which apply to her – mitzvot that are not time-bound. Bringing an animal offering reminds us to rectify our ways and perform Hashem’s will with joy.

Nowadays, when we no longer have a Beit Hamikdash and cannot bring korbanot to atone for our sins, we have Torah study in its place. Chazal tell us (Menachot 110a) that if one engages in Torah it is as if he offered a burnt-offering, meal-offering, sin-offering, and guilt-offering. This is how we atone for our sins and purify our souls.


Happy is the Humble Person

In the section of offerings, we are commanded, “from animals – from the cattle or from the flock.” The Torah wishes to stress that the one bringing the offering must himself feel like an animal. “Woe to me! What did I do! How could I have angered My Creator so!”

The purpose of the offering is to bring a person to self-effacement, and this humility will enable him to lift himself up and draw closer to Hashem.

One who lowers himself merits Hashem descending to him. Hashem disregarded all the high mountains and hills in the world, and chose to rest His Shechinah on the lowly Har Sinai which did not consider itself important and worthy.

In every area man must feel humility, but when it comes to Torah study it is even more vital! Torah cannot rest in a high place, and man must lower himself to merit it.

“How great are the lowly before Hashem,” said Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi. “When the Beit Hamikdash stood, a person brought a burnt-offering and received reward for a burnt offering; he brought a meal-offering and received reward for a meal-offering. But the Torah considers one who is humble as if he brought all the offerings, as it says, “The sacrifices G-d desires are a broken spirit” (Tehillim 51:19). Furthermore, his prayer is not despised, as the verse continues, “a heart broken and humbled, O Hashem, You will not despise.” The prayer of a humble person is precious to Hashem and He accepts it!

Rabbeinu Bachya describes the attribute of humility, the purpose of bringing korbanot, at length. “When a man among you brings an offering:” Man must offer from his very self, to surrender parts of himself, and in this way he is transformed into a fitting offering for Hashem.

He writes about the attribute of humility: “A person should be reticent and patient. He should respect others, speak positively about them, and bear humiliation in silence.” He quotes the words of Shlomo Hamelech (Mishlei 22:4), “The result of humility is fear of Hashem, wealth, honor, and life.” As a result of humility man will merit four things: fear of Hashem, wealth, honor, and life.

“From this middah gufanit [of humility], man will attain fear of Hashem, a middah sichlit, and will also merit wealth.” This obviously does not refer to an abundance of assets, but “Who is rich? He who is happy with his lot” (Avot 4:1). This kind of person is always happy. When asked about his welfare he replies, “Baruch Hashem, wonderful!”

A humble person is happy with his lot, in contrast to a conceited person who, even if he is very wealthy, does not consider himself rich. He can always point to something he is missing. “This I do not yet have; this I did not yet attain…”

“When I was in Chutz L’aretz,” the gaon Rabbi Reuven Elbaz shlit”a related, “someone approached me after Shacharit and said, “Rabbi, bless me that I should attain 100 million dollars!” I was later told that this person’s assets valued at 50 million dollars! He had 50 million but he was not satisfied! He wanted 100 million!”

When a person feels dissatisfaction with all that Hashem has blessed him, he constantly feels lacking. And not just missing, but missing twice as much as he really has.

A humble person, on the other hand, enjoys a good life, as Rabbeinu Bachya writes: “One who desires luxuries, worries he might not become as rich as he would like, or his wealth will not endure. His lives a life of sorrow for not attaining all his wishes, and worry cuts his life short. He is distressed about a world that is not his. But one who is happy with his lot is not concerned about what he did not acquire. He is free of worry and lives a life of tranquility.”


In Search of Tranquility

Once when I was travelling by train accompanied by my assistant, a gentile father and his two sons sat down opposite us. During the journey, the sons began profaning their mouths with the worst kind of talk, with the father cooperating with them and actually enjoying his sons’ vulgar speech.

Although at first the other gentiles who were in our carriage were astonished to hear this kind of talk, however as time passed they began enjoying the scene and even laughed at the profanity.

In contrast, my attendant and I suffered greatly during these two hours, without being able to do anything, since there was nowhere else we could sit. We encouraged ourselves and shut our ears so as not to hear the unclean speech. All the while I felt deep sorrow that instead of two hours of peaceful Torah study, we had to endure two hours of terrible suffering. I thought of Yaakov Avinu who after his long exile and struggles, wished to settle down in tranquility, but the anguish of Yosef’s kidnapping pounced upon him.

I also reckoned: “It seems appropriate to right now recite the blessing, ‘Blessed are You for not having made me a gentile’ (without Hashem’s Name). And tomorrow in the morning prayers, I will recite the full blessing with true feeling, because I have tangibly experienced the difference between a Jew and a gentile.”

This father was educating his sons to profanity, and enjoying the abominations they uttered, r”l. In contrast, a Jewish father educates his sons to study Torah and to guard his mouth and eyes from forbidden matters, refraining from forbidden speech and forbidden foods.

We are therefore worthy of reciting daily “… for not having made me a gentile.”


1. Since banana peels are fit for animal consumption, they must be treated with kedushat shevi’it if they are otzar beit din. Peels unfit for animal consumption are considered part of the bark and are in a different category. But if they are edible, even if not normally eaten, they have the same law as fruit and must be treated with kedushat shevi’it.

2. Some say that orange peels have kedushat shevi’it because they are used as animal food; also because they are often processed for human consumption by being candied. Others say it is not necessary to treat them with kedushat shevi’it, and this is the ruling that is generally followed. However, one who is stringent and places them in a separate bag before throwing them into the garbage will be blessed.

3. Etrog pits which are bitter, and similarly grape pits, loquat pits, dried date pits, carob pits, and orange and apple pits, do not have kedushat shevi’it since they are unfit for human consumption. Most varieties of apricots have bitter pits therefore they are included in this category. All these pits may be thrown away in the normal manner.

4. Fresh date, pear, and quince pits do not have kedushat shevi’it since one intends to throw them away and they are inedible.

One should be stringent with watermelon seeds and treat them with kedushat shevi’it.

5. Some say that fruit pits which have some fruit left on them, such as plum and peach pits, or fresh dates, olives, or quince, may not be thrown away as they are still edible. In their opinion one must wrap them in paper or plastic before throwing them in the garbage.

Others say that since these pits are meant to be thrown away, they do not have kedushat shevi’it and one may throw them in the garbage as usual. This is the accepted opinion. If the fruit has been removed to the maximum and all that remains is some moisture, all the more so one may be lenient.

6. If one is in a public place, even those who are stringent with pits or peels that have a little bit of fruit stuck to them, may put the pits or peels in a plastic bag and then throw them away, without waiting for them to rot.

7. Fruit that can be used as dyes may be used as dyes for human use but not for the benefit of animals, even animal food.

For any questions in practical application of these halachot, please consult a rabbinical authority.


Rabbi David Hanania Pinto

Torah is Greater Than Korbanot

“Hashem called to Moshe, and Hashem spoke to him from the Tent of Meeting, saying” (Vayikra 1:1).

This is the first Parshah of sefer Vayikra, the sefer of korbanot.

Chazal say that young children should begin their Torah study with sefer Vayikra. The word ויקרא is an expression of קריאה, reading. This alludes to the fact that reading from the Torah atones in the same way as korbanot, as Chazal expound on the words, “This is the law )תורה( of the burnt-offering, the meal-offering.”

The Gemara (Rosh Hashanah 18a) tells of a family in Yerushalayim whose children all died when they reached age eighteen. They informed Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakai who said: “Perhaps you are from the family of Eli, as it says, ‘All those raised in your house will die as [young] men.’ Go and engage in Torah and you will live.” They studied Torah and lived, and that family was called “Family Rabbi Yochanan”.

We see from this Gemara that Torah has a stronger power than offerings to atone. This raises the following question: why do we need korbanot if we have the Torah? One who sins can study Torah and be atoned. Besides, all forms of healing and segulot can be found in the Torah.

The truth is that ideally this is how it should be. But Bnei Yisrael sinned with the Golden Calf, and their punishment was that sins would be atoned specifically through korbanot. The sin of the Golden Calf took place after Matan Torah, when Bnei Yisrael should have intensified their holiness, yet instead they caused the Shechinah to depart.

Therefore their rectification was to bring a korban, implying drawing closer to the Shechinah. Just as it says later on (Vayikra 1:2), “When a man among you brings an offering,” meaning through bringing offerings they would feel they are offering themselves to Hashem, as we explained above from the Ramban.

It follows that their atonement was in line with their sin. But now that today, due to our sins, we no longer have a Beit Hamikdash, we have reverted to the original ‘healing’ – the Torah. And without the Torah there is no resurrection from sin.

The Gemara (Sukka 53a) says it is better for a person not to sin, than sin and repent, for a new garment cannot be compared to a garment that was washed after becoming dirty. Even though it is completely clean, it is no longer in pristine condition. Contemplating this idea can be a source  of great inspiration.


The Chida - Rabbi Chaim Yosef David Azoulai

The multifaceted personality of Maran the gaon Rabbeinu Chaim Yosef David Azoulai zt”l (the Chida), has always been a symbol and role model for perfection. He was blessed with many gifts – a rare, unparalleled memory, exceptional perception, and the ability to make clear judgements and decisions with astounding discretion. His spoken and written words were concise, and he possessed life-wisdom, together with immeasurable humility. This attribute of modesty was the cornerstone of his personality, and as he himself notes in his sefer Yosef Tehillot, “The most important thing is that man should be truly humble, and act for the sake of Heaven. He should recognize his insignificance and obligation to serve Hashem. Then he will merit all the virtues.”

The Chida was born in the Old City to his holy parents, his father Rabbi Yitzchak Zerachya, one of the seven greatest sages of Yerushalayim, and his mother, Mrs. Sarah, a descendant of the gaon, the S’ma.

He was born prematurely and almost lifeless. The midwife had nearly given up on his life, but the grandfather drew the baby close to him, wrapped him in a blanket to warm him, and with Hashem’s kindness, the child lived.

From a very young age, Chaim Yosef David dedicated his life to the Creator and studied Torah with immense diligence, hardly stepping out of the tent of Torah. He fulfilled the Chazal, “This is the way of Torah: Eat bread with salt, drink water in small measure, sleep on the ground, live a life of deprivation – but toil in Torah!”

The Chida was blessed with exceptional literary skills. He began recording his Torah thoughts in his youth, and did not put down his pen until the day he died. He wrote numerous sefarim, rich in content and quality, on all sections of Torah. His written word revealed his faculties as a gifted lecturer, posek, mekubal, and master of ethics. At every opportunity, day and night, on good days and bad days, at sea and on land, and even during his illness, he did not neglect his writing. As an example, he wrote his chiddushim on Hilchot Sotah of the Rambam during a lockdown due to an epidemic. During a different period when the Chida had to be in isolation for forty days on his return from the State of Tunis, as required by the laws of the State of Italy concerning every traveler coming from the East, he wrote and edited his sefer Shem Hagedolim. This sefer is a record of the names of various sages, their history and account of their lives. In the second section, he wrote the names of the sefarim, both of the Rishonim and Acharonim, and the names of their authors, with the content arranged according to the order of the Hebrew alphabet.

When news reached him that the saintly Moreinu Rabbi Chaim ben Atar zy”a, author of the holy Or HaChaim, arrived in Yerushalayim together with several of his talmidim to establish a yeshiva, the Chida joined him and remained in his presence that entire time, drawing handfuls of his wisdom and holiness.

In many of his sefarim, the Chida quotes explanations, chiddushim and halachic rulings he heard from the holy mouth of Moreinu Rabbi Chaim ben Atar, including a miracle he witnessed in Rabbi Chaim’s beit midrash.

The Chida’s numerous sefarim which were published one after another with marvelous frequency, caused great excitement in the Torah world – in Eretz Yisrael, Turkey, North Africa, Egypt, Poland, and Ashkenaz. In most Eastern communities his sefarim were received with enthusiasm and admiration, and his rulings were rendered unquestionably decisive. Maran HaRashal zt”l, in his sefer Responsa Yabia Omer (vol. 1, Yoreh De’ah 13), quotes the gaon Rabbi Abdullah Somech zt”l, Chief Rabbi of Babylonia, who said the Spanish communities considered the rulings of the Chida as having the same authority as the rulings of Maran Rabbi Yosef Caro. It is said that “From Yosef (Maran Rabbi Yosef Caro) to Yosef (Rabbeinu the Chida) there was no one like Yosef”…

On Friday night of Parshat Zachor, 11th of Adar 5566, the holy Aron Kodesh returned his soul to his Maker after eighty-two years lived to the fullest.

The Chida composed sixty-eight sefarim, the numerical value of his name Chaim. Most were published, but we did not merit benefitting from the the light of three: Or Hagonuz, Ha’alem Davar, and Chadrei Batten. It is said that the names of these sefarim were the cause for their concealment: The light remained hidden (Or Hagonuz), the word disappeared (Ha’alem Davar), and the sefarim descended to the chambers of the innards (Chadrei Batten).


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