Tsav - Shabat Parah

March 30th, 2024

20th of Adar II 5784


Pride Wrapped in Humility  

Rabbi David Chananya Pinto  

The fire of the Altar should be kept aflame on it (Vayikra 6:2).  

The literal meaning of the verse is not “should be kept aflame on it,” but “should be kept aflame on him,” meaning in the Kohen who offers the korban. From here we learn that when a person fulfills Hashem’s will and observes His mitzvot, he must do them with a holy excitement, as if a fire is burning in his bones, as in the verse, “All my bones shall say: Hashem, who is like You?” He should not fulfill the mitzvot with a lazy spirit or with sluggishness, rather with love and desire, with alacrity and joy, in order to bring pleasure to his Creator.  

From this parsha of the korbanot we learn about the extreme disgrace of pride. Chazal tell us (Vayikra Rabba 7:6): Hashem said, anyone who considers himself great, will eventually be consumed by fire, as it says, “It stays on the flame.” Woe to prominence that never brings any good. And Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi said, come and see how great are the humble spirited before Hashem. When the Beit Hamikdash stood, a person would offer a burnt-offering and received the reward for this offering; a meal offering — he received the reward of a meal-offering. But one who is humble, the Torah considers it as if he has offered all the korbanot, as it says (Tehillim 51:19), “The sacrifices G-d desires are a broken spirit.” Sacrifices that are desired by Hashem are not korbanot and meal-offerings, but a subdued and submissive spirit.  

This is the reason why the Torah was given on Har Sinai, the lowest and humblest of all the mountains, and was given specially by Moshe Rabbeinu who was the humblest of all men as it says (Bamidbar 12:3), “Now the man Moshe was exceedingly humble.” This teaches us that one who wishes to receive the Torah, must first of all crown himself with the trait of humility, which is the foremost of all good middot. We can ask why if the Torah was given specifically on Har Sinai to teach us the importance of humility and self-effacement, why was it not given on lowland or in a valley; Har Sinai was after all considered a mountain and it had some degree of height and majesty.  

The commentaries answer that the Torah wishes to point out the appropriate approach to the trait of modesty. Feelings of humility and submissiveness are important and desired, but on the other hand a person must also know how to elevate and raise his spirit; to feel some degree of importance and prominence. Not chalilah towards other people; this elevation must be in his own eyes. He should contemplate and tell himself that out of all the creations in the world he merited to be one of the Chosen; he was chosen by Hashem to be one of His eternal servants, to stand before Him and serve Him. If a person entertains these kind of positive thoughts, there is no doubt that as soon as he faces any kind of challenge, where he is tempted to transgress Hashem’s word, he will immediately distance himself from the sin and will despise the aveirah, because he will tell himself that it is not fitting for a noble and honored prince like him to anger his Father and rebel against Him.  

So although the trait of humility is exceedingly important, it is only with respect to others that one must not feel pride and conceit. But in his own eyes he needs to appreciate his worth and understand just how important he is in Hashem’s eyes. Some small measure of internal pride and self-importance is necessary, just as “His heart was elevated in the ways of Hashem” (Divrei Hayamim II, 17:6). This is exactly like Har Sinai who was indeed humble but also possessed some majesty.  

I would like to suggest a different approach to resolving this difficulty. As we know, heaven signifies spirituality and avodat Hashem, which are heavenly and sublime things. On the other hand, earth signifies the physical and materialism. One can say that the Torah was given specifically on Hara Sinai, a mountain which ascends to heaven and not in a valley, which demonstrates connection to the earth and materialism, to teach Bnei Yisrael that they must always lift their eyes heavenward and strive to connect to spiritual matters. They should not be attached to the earth of the valley which symbolizes materialism and all the lowly things of this world.  

Therefore, when Moshe Rabbeinu came down from heaven to Har Sinai and saw Bnei Yisrael had sinned with the Golden Calf, he immediately broke the Luchot. Har Sinai signifies the world of truth, the spiritual world, and on that mountain the Torah of Truth was given.  

At the other extreme, the sin of the Golden Calf signifies this world which is the world of falsehood, where people go astray and make mistakes and chase after all the pleasures that it offers. Their attention is focused on the “Golden Calf” which they possess. Obviously it is not possible for both these worlds to reside in a person’s heart at the same time. It cannot be that a person cleaves to the path of Torah and mitzvot, and at the same time chases after the forbidden pleasures of this world and uses them to anger His Creator. Moshe Rabbeinu saw that Bnei Yisrael were “dancing on two planes,” the Tablets of Testimony were coupled together with the tablets of falsehood and deception, and in this situation these Tablets of Testimony have no future and cannot exist, therefore he broke them in front of their eyes.  


Based on the teachings of Moreinu v‘Rabbeinu Hagaon Hatzaddik Rabbi David Chananya Pinto, shlita  

Readiness to Perform Hashem’s Will  

“Command Ahron and his sons, saying: This is the law of the burnt-offering” (Vayikra 6:2).  

Rashi writes: “The word ‘tzav’ (command) is an expression of ‘ziruz’ (urging) for now and for all future generations. Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai said, the verse needed to exhort in a situation where there is monetary loss.”  

The Kohanim received a certain profit from every korban. They would receive part of the meat of the offering, besides the burnt offering which was entirely burnt on the Mizbeach. Since the Kohanim only received the skin of this offering, the Torah was concerned that this might bring them to slacken when offering this kind of korban and therefore saw fit to urge them.  

As with every incident in the Torah, this is a lesson for all generations. Even today when due to our sins the Beit Hamikdash no longer stands, there is still a practical lesson we can derive from this for our avodat Hashem. A person should exhort himself to carry out the will of Hashem and not slacken in his performance of the mitzvot.  

Concerning mitzvot that contain, as if, some loss or one doesn’t derive any enjoyment or benefit from them, or even if the mitzva involves a great expense, for example buying quality tefillin or a beautiful etrog, giving tzedaka and performing acts of kindness, a person must be very careful not to let his evil inclination persuade him to save on the expense and get by with fulfilling the mitzva in the minimal way. A person must drive away the evil inclination and urge himself to fulfill the word of Hashem, just as we explained before that “tzav” is an expression of urging. He should willingly and joyfully be prepared to spend money to fulfill Hashem’s mitzvot.  

From the burnt-offering which was completely burnt for Hashem, we also learn that a person’s every act must be done totally for the honor of Hashem Yitbarach. Even when he eats and drinks and sleeps or is occupied with his physical needs, he must intend to do it not for his own pleasure but to be healthy and have the strength to serve Hashem Yitbarach. These actions will enable him to continue with his avodat Hashem with even more intensity. In this way even his physical needs become holy for Hashem.  


Adding Life  

Rabbi Chaim Hakatan would often refer to himself as “the lowly servant of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai.” He would utter this frequently, and it was often heard by many of his close relatives, whether he was in the middle of learning the secrets of the Zohar Hakadosh, or supplicating Hashem.  

It is told that once, Rabbi Chaim came down with a severe case of typhus and was at the brink of death. The members of the Chevrah Kadisha assembled around his bed, and when they saw him taking his last breath, they began to recite Tehillim by his side.  

Suddenly, Rabbi Chaim opened his eyes and raised himself slightly. He told the members of the Chevrah Kadisha, “You can leave now. I am fine. I was granted by Heaven another twenty-six years of life.”  

After everyone recovered from their shock, the tzaddik explained to them that just as he was about to die, his grandfather, Rabbi Chaim Hagadol, suddenly came from Gan Eden to stand before the Heavenly Court. He tearfully pleaded, “You must add more years to Rabbi Chaim’s life, since he has not yet accomplished all that he has to. He must live longer in order to increase people’s faith in Hashem.”  

Rabbi Chaim Hagadol continued pleading his grandson’s case and advocating for him. In the end, the Heavenly Court accepted his appeal and added another twentysix years to Rabbi Chaim Hakatan’s life. During these years, he dedicated himself to strengthening his brethren with faith in the Master of the World.  

Although Rabbi Chaim Hakatan died approximately two years before the outbreak of World War II, he predicted what would transpire prior to his death. Through Divine inspiration, Rabbi Chaim perceived the approaching Holocaust, whereby six million kedoshim would be massacred. He described the impending events to his son the holy tzaddik Rabbi Moshe Aharon Pinto.  

The tzaddik Rabbi Meir Pinto, Moreinu v’Rabbeinu’s uncle, testifies that he personally heard the following from his father. A few days before his death, Rabbi Chaim summoned all his sons and family, and blessed them. He said, “There are days coming in which an evil gentile will rise and cruelly destroy half of Hashem’s vineyard. If my merits are not able to cancel this decree, then it is better that I should die than live to see my nation’s suffering. However, if I will be in the Upper Spheres, I will attempt to cancel the decree from there.”  

As he predicted, on the seventeenth of Elul, 1939 (5699), the dreadful war broke out. Six million Jews from communities in Europe were tortured and burned to death. On account of this, Rabbi Moshe Aharon donned sackcloth and ashes for five years, until the terrible war ended.  

Rabbi Moshe Aharon also talked about the events of the Holocaust and the days of the Mashiach on several occasions and tried hard to mitigate the suffering.  


Flowers and Chocolate  

In this week’s Haftarah (Yirmiya 7:21), the Navi rebukes the people: “Add your burnt-offerings to your peace-offerings and eat [their] meat! For I did not speak with your forefathers, nor did I command them, on the day I took them out of the land of Egypt, concerning burntor peace-offerings.”  

The words of the Navi, “nor did I command them… concerning burnt or peace-offerings,” seem surprising. In sefer Vayikra Bnei Yisrael were commanded about all the different offerings, so how do we understand that here Hashem is saying I did not request korbanot from you?!  

Harav Pincus, zt”l, in the sefer Tiferet Shimshon, brings a wonderful mashal to clarify this concept.  

Let us imagine a husband and wife. On Thursday night the husband goes to the supermarket to do the weekly grocery shopping, equipped with a list his wife prepared for him. She included items like bread, vegetables and various other essentials. The husband collects all the items and then proceeds to the checkout.  

At the last minute, he throws a few bars of chocolate into the shopping cart, imagining to himself his children’s delight. A few minutes later, on his way out of the store, he notices a vendor selling flowers, and he decides to surprise his wife with a bunch of flowers.  

He arrives home and puts all the groceries away in their appropriate place. Once everything is organized he takes out the bunch of flowers and presents them to his wife.  

“Wow! How nice of you! These are beautiful!” She is really touched by his gesture. But he hasn’t finished yet: with a flourish, he takes out the chocolate bars from his pocket and hands them to his delighted children. “What a great father!”  

At this moment, no-one is paying attention to the bread or the tomatoes. The wife and children are excited with their personal gifts. The only thought that goes through their minds is, “Baruch Hashem, we are so fortunate…”  

Excited about the extra attention they received, all they spoke about the whole week was the beautiful flowers and delicious chocolates…  

The husband takes note and says to himself: Ah, now it’s clear to me what my family really enjoys. And the next week, when he once again sets out to do the weekly shopping, instead of buying the things that they really need — like bread and vegetables, he buys an even larger bunch of flowers for his wife and doubles the amount of chocolate for the children.  

He arrives home and announces with joy: “Look what I bought for you!” He is certain they will be ecstatic…  

His wife takes a look at the flowers and asks, but where is the bread and vegetables and other things that we need?” When she realizes that besides the flowers he didn’t buy anything else, she feels very annoyed with him and expresses her displeasure by saying: “Did I ask you for roses?!”  

“But the entire week the only thing that you spoke about was the flowers?!” The husband cannot understand what happened suddenly.  

The difference is clear: When the husband made sure to bring his wife and children all the essentials, and on top of that wrapped everything up with a nice ribbon, by adding a bunch of flowers and chocolates, that was a really nice gesture. But when the husband ignores his wife and children’s true needs, the flowers have no meaning. They are not one of the essentials of life; they are a means of expressing innermost feelings. When the basic relationship is missing, flowers have no value!  

This is the meaning of Hashem’s rebuke: “nor did I command them… concerning burnt or peaceofferings.” Did I ask for korbanot?!  

All the other mitzvot are compulsory; fulfilling the mitzvot do not depend on personal feelings. Even if a person feels he is not on the appropriate level, he must observe the mitzvot. However, the korbanot which were offered in the Beit Hamikdash were gifts. Gifts express love. If a person keeps the Torah and observes all the mitzvot, bringing a korban can, as if, bring Hashem pleasure, but there is no flavor in a korban that is offered by a person who does not observe Torah and mitzvot.  


Tidbits of faith and trust penned by Moreinu v‘Rabbeinu Hagaon Hatzaddik Rabbi David Chananya Pinto, shlita  

One Good Turn Deserves Another  

I was once invited to participate at a fundraising dinner for the purpose of providing kimcha d’Pischa for the poor of France, as well as supporting the kollel of Mori v’Rebbi, Harav Binyomin Zev Kaufman, zt’’l, of England. This man was a tzaddik and a talmid chacham, whose mouth never ceased to utter words of Torah. I had learned under his tutelage in Yeshivat Netzach Yisrael in Sunderland.  

Throughout the entire evening, I couldn’t help but notice this venerated Sage keep glancing at his watch. It seemed he was in a big hurry to get somewhere. I asked him about it, but he politely declined replying. In truth, my question was superfluous. I knew only too well how precious the Rav’s time is to him. His only interest was studying Torah.  

Since I sincerely wished to alleviate his discomfort, I offered to donate the entire amount that would have been raised at this dinner. I repeated the exact amount of money that I pledged to contribute to his yeshiva, knowing this was what he would have managed to raise in Paris during his visit there. When the tzaddik heard this, his eyes lit up. He joyously exclaimed, “Now I will be able to return to my regular routine of avodat Hashem without having to go knocking on the doors of potential donors.”  

After reflecting a moment, he asked, “But what about the plight of France’s poor?”  

“That is my problem.”  

I knew that I was taking a massive project upon my own shoulders. Of course, I should have known that Hashem’s shoulders are boundlessly broad. Just at that moment, a man came over to me and whispered in my ear that he would like to donate a respectable sum of money to our holy institutions. What makes this episode most incredible is that the amount he specified was the exact amount that I had offered to donate to my Rebbi’s kollel in Manchester. My only misgivings were that I hadn’t doubled my offer, for Hashem would certainly have ensured I would gain whatever amount I needed.  

When I got home, I told my wife the entire episode. In her virtuous way, she suggested I donate an additional sum to Rabbi Kaufman’s yeshiva. I phoned Rabbi Kaufman to inform him of this decision. He was extremely grateful.  

To our utter amazement, the phone rang immediately afterward. On the other end of the line was a wealthy friend of our institutions, who pledged the same amount of money that I had offered just moments earlier.

This train of incidents clearly showed me that whoever is diligent in mitzvah performance, specifically the mitzvah of tzedakah, is guaranteed to be paid back. Hashem loves those who are charitable with His people and takes care of their needs. He repays them from His treasury, in duplicate and triplicate.  


A Person’s Inner Flame  

A permanent fire shall remain aflame on the Altar; it shall not be extinguished” (Vayikra 6:6).  

The Shlah Hakadosh brings in the name of Rabbi Moshe Kordoviro, zy”a, that reciting this verse is a wonderful segulah to be saved from entertaining thoughts of sin.  

The Ktav Sofer brings a remez for this segulah from the actual wording of the verse: Anyone whose heart burns with a permanent fire for Hashem and the desire to fulfill His mitzvot pulsates in him, Hashem will help him to be saved from improper or offensive thoughts, and certainly that he shouldn’t come to actually perform an aveirah, according to the Chazal, “performing a mitzva protects and rescues.”  

This is what the verse is telling us: “A permanent fire shall remain aflame on the Altar.” The Mizbeach refers to a person himself who is an ‘Altar of earth.’ From there, from the very place of the Mizbeach, Adam Harishon was created, as Rashi explains in Bereishit. And therefore, since man is an Altar, “it shall not be extinguished.”  

One who tries to purify himself receives assistance, and one who sanctifies himself from below is sanctified from Above, from the fire of the Mizbeach.  

Korbanot Annul Mazikim  

This is the law of the burnt-offering, the meal-offering, the sin-offering, and the guilt-offering” (Vayikra 7:37).

The Chida writes in his sefer Chomat Anoch that the first letter of each of the words עולה מנחה חטאת אשם spells עמחא . Similarly, the first letters of עון משחית חימה אף , (which are names of mazikim) also spells עמחא . This teaches us that korbanot annul these mazikim (quoted by the sefer Eretz Hachaim).  

This clarifies the Tur who explains (Ohr Hachaim siman 237) the reason why we say, “He, the Merciful One, is forgiving of iniquity…” in the evening prayer. At the time of the Shacharit and Mincha prayers, they would offer the thanksgiving-offering which atoned for the sins of Bnei Yisrael and indeed Chazal say that it never happened that a person stayed overnight in Yerushalayim with a sin in his hands. However, since the Arvit prayer does not contain this atonement (since there was no offering), Chazal established that we should recite “He, the Merciful One, is forgiving of iniquity…”  

The verse “He, the Merciful One, is forgiving of iniquity…” mentions all the mazikim. והוא רחום יכפר עוןולא ישחיתוהרבה להשיב אפו ולא יעיר כל חמתו ” . Since no korbanot were offered in the evening, we pray to Hashem in the evening prayer to annul these mazikim.  

The sefer Eretz Hachaim adds that Shema Yisrael starts with the word שמע and finishes with אחד , of which the first letter and last letter spells שד . Reciting the Shema annuls the shedim. The remaining letters of שמע אחד are מעאח , which is an abbreviation for משחית עון אף חימה . This is a hint that through reciting the Shema all the mazikim are annulled, just as was achieved with the korbanot.  

Performing a Mitzva is Not Humiliating  

“When one brings his feast peace-offering to Hashem, he shall deliver his offering to Hashem from his feast peace-offering” (Vayikra 7:29).  

It seems there is a double expression in the verse: “His feast peace-offering to Hashem, he shall deliver his offering to Hashem from his feast peace-offering.”  

The Emek Davar clarifies this by explaining that we would think a venerable person who was required to bring a korban, or even wished to bring a peace-offering, would send his korban with a messenger because it is not respectable for him to walk through the streets with an ox.  

But the Torah tells him that when performing a mitzva one should not feel embarrassed! Therefore, he himself needs to bring the ox as it says: “When one brings his feast peace-offering to Hashem,” he personally, “he shall deliver his offering to Hashem from his feast peace offering.”  

A great tzaddik was once seen lugging branches of wood. His talmidim turned to him in surprise: “Why is the Rav lugging wood?”  

He answered, “An unfortunate woman just gave birth and her house is bitterly cold. I am bringing her wood so that she can warm up her house.”  

“But it is not a respectful thing for the Rav to do,” they replied, trying to defend his honor. They offered to hire a non-Jew and pay him a few pennies to do the work instead of him. The Rav was shocked, “Do you expect me to give up this mitzva to a non-Jew and even pay him for it?!”


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