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אדם כי יהיה בעור בשרו... והובא אל אהרן הכהן

If a person will have on the שאת skin of his flesh a seis… he shall be brought to Aharon HaKohen. (13:2)

When Moshe Rabbeinu noticed that inspecting the physical plagues that appeared on a body was included in the function of a Kohen, he was troubled. Chazal (Vayikra Rabbah 15:8) say that Moshe had tzaar gadol, great pain, concerning Aharon HaKohen’s function to view and render his halachic decision concerning the plague’s impurity. He felt that it was below his brother’s dignity as Kohen Gadol, High Priest, to engage in such an unappealing task. Hashem quickly reminded Moshe that Aharon and his descendants enjoy twenty-four matnos, gifts, of Kehunah, which Klal Yisrael shares with them. Chazal teach us an important message…

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זאת תהיה תורת המצורע

This shall be the law of the metzora. (14:2)

The Talmud (Horayos 12b) relates that Rava asked Rav Nachman if a Kohen Gadol who was afflicted with tzaraas, spiritual leprosy, may marry a widow. (Under normal circumstances, the Kohen Gadol may not marry a widow. However, since as a metzora he is disqualified from serving, perhaps the prohibition against marrying a widow would not presently pertain to him.) The answer was not available to him. On another occasion, Rav Pappa raised the same question to Rav Nachman. This time, Rav Huna, son of Rav Nachman, interjected with the answer that, just as a Kohen Gadol who becomes tamei, ritually…

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זאת תהיה תורת המצורע

This shall be the law of the Metzora. (14:2)

The Torah devotes no less than 115 pesukim (Tazria-Metzora) to the various forms of tzaraas and their purification process. Clearly the lengthy focus on tzaraas indicates the significance the Torah extends to the precursor of tzaraas: lashon hora, evil/slanderous speech. The motzi shem ra, individual who uses his tongue to propagate negative information about a fellow Jew, is the one who becomes the tzaraas victim. Thus, the parshiyos dealing with the tzaraas plagues indicate the severity of lashon hora. Interestingly, the only allusion in the Torah that connects tzaraas with lashon hora is in Devarim 24:8,9 when the Torah admonishes…

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ויקחו בני אהרן נדב ואביהוא איש מחתתו

The sons of Aharon, Nadav and Avihu, each took his fire pan. (10:1)

Yalkut Shemoni (Shemini, Remez 524) adds that each one – Nadav and Avihu – took his fire pan, mei’atzmo, on his own, neither discussing it with – nor accepting advice from – his brother. The two brothers erred in thinking that it was a mitzvah to offer on their own without first receiving a Divine mandate. It makes sense to assume that their error was extremely minute, as they were such righteous individuals. They certainly did not arrive at their individual decisions without intense cogitation. Clearly, they thought the matter through and rendered their individual decisions. Nonetheless, the Yalkut implies,…

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וימתו לפני ד'

And they died before Hashem. (10:2)

When a person renders a decision, he must take into consideration its effect on others, as well as all the ramifications, direct and indirect, present and future, that will result from his decision. Nadav and Avihu did not marry. Chazal (Midrash Rabbah, Vayikra 20:10) consider them guilty of haughtiness for not marrying. They would say, “Our father is the High Priest;” “Our father’s brother is the king/leader of the nation;” “Our uncle is the Nasi, Prince of the tribe of Yehudah.” “We are next in line for the hierarchy of the Priesthood. Is there a woman that is suitable for/worthy…

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אך את זה לא תאכלו ... את הגמל כי מעלה גרה הוא ופרסה איננו מפריס ... ואת השפן כי מעלה גרה הוא ופרסה לא יפרים ... ואת הארנבת כי מעלת גרה היא ופרסה לא הפריסה טמאה היא לכם

But this is what you shall not eat… the camel (for it brings up its cud), buts its hoof is not split … and the hyrax, for it brings up its cud, but its hoof is not split… and the hare, for it brings up its cud, but its hoof is not split. It is unclean to you. (11:4,5,6)

The Torah teaches us that an animal achieves kosher status when it possesses two identifying signs/characteristics: split hooves; and chews/brings up its cud. We are taught that three animals, the camel, hyrax and hare, chew their cud, but, since they do not have split hooves, they are deemed unkosher. In his Nitzotzos, Horav Yitzchak Hershkowitz, Shlita, observes what appears to be an anomaly in recording the three circumstances of a lack of split hooves. In animal number one, the camel, the Torah writes, uparsah einenah mafris, which loosely translated means, it presently does not have split hooves. The next animal,…

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כי אני ד' אלקיכם והתקדשתם והייתם קדשים

For I am Hashem your G-d, you are to sanctify yourselves and you shall become holy. (11:44)

Ibn Ezra adds to the pasuk: “You shall sanctify yourselves because I am Hashem your G-d. I gave you mitzvos and statutes to guard (and observe), so that you will maintain your holiness.” In other words, the mitzvos which we observe protect us. The greater our affiliation with and observance of mitzvos, the greater is our protection from failure and falling into the abyss of sin and spiritual contamination. One night, quite late, Horav Akiva Eiger, zl, Rav of Posen and the preeminent Torah giant of his generation, heard knocking at his door. As Rav of the city, the people…

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זאת תורת העלה היא העלה על מוקדה על המזבח

This is the law of the Olah/Elevation-offering (that stays) on the flame on the Altar. (6:2)

The Korban Chatas, Sin-offering, is brought when one inadvertently commits a transgression for which the punishment is, when intentional, either kares, Heavenly excision, or the death penalty [any of the four forms of capital punishment/execution]. A person brings a Korban Olah for a sin which he committed with his mind, in which he had improper, sinful thoughts. Interestingly, when one performs a sin with his hand, his punishment is chatas, which is partially eaten by the owners and Kohanim. In contrast, when one commits a sin with his mind, he must bring a korban which is completely burnt. Why is…

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ופשט את בגדיו ולבש בגדים אחרים

And he shall take off his garments, and put on other garments. (6:4)

In his Sipurei Chassidim, Horav Shlomo Y. Zevin, zl (cited by Imrei Shammai) relates that Rav David Tzvi Chein, a Chabad chassid, who was Rav in Chernigov, was scheduled for his yechidus (private interview with the Rebbe, during which the chassid seeks guidance and inspiration) with Horav Shmuel, zl, of Lubavitch. He arrived late, so he decided that he would wait outside the Rebbe’s study. In that way, when the Rebbe would leave, he would quickly ask his question. He was late, and he had to return to Chernigov. As he was waiting, he was joined by the Rebbe’s gabbai,…

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וזאת תורת זבח השלמים

And this is the teaching of the offering of the meal-of-peace. (7:11)

Previously (Ibid 3:1), the Torah referred to the Korban Shelamim, Peace-offering, as Zevach Shelamim, meal of peace. The Korban Shelamim is the only offering that carries with it the added appellation, zevach, meal/feast. In his commentary to Sefer Bereishis (46:1), Horav S. R. Hirsch, zl, writes that Yaakov Avinu was the first Patriarch to offer a Korban Shelamim. This was only after he heard that Yosef HaTzaddik was physically and spiritually safe. When the Patriarch arrived in Be’er Sheva, he was in his happiest frame of mind, having reached a zenith in his life, enabling him to leave his troubles…

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