Monday, April 07, 2014

the pshat that led the Rashba to sing the Meshech Chochma's praises

The Meshech Chochma asks why the Torah writes with respect to the korban of a metzorah who is poor and brings birds instead of sheep that the kapparah takes place “lifnei Hashem” (14:31) – a phrase that is absent in all the other pesukim that deal with the metzorah's korbanos.  He answers by reminding us of a comment of the Ibn Ezra back in parshas Vayikra with respect to korban oleh v'yoreid.  If someone could not afford a sheep, he could bring two birds, one as an olah one as a chatas.  Why does the poor person have to bring two birds, asks Ibn Ezra, but only one korban if he brings an animal?  He answers that an animal korban chatas has two parts: the fats offered on the mizbeiach, and the food portion that is eaten.  A bird chatas has no fats that are offered on the altar; Therefore, it must be paired with an olah bird to make up the difference.  Coming back to our parsha, since a poor metzorah need only offer a chatas bird but not an olah, you might have thought his kapparah is incomplete.  Our pasuk therefore writes that the kapparah is “lifnei Hashem,” and Hashem does not need a portion to grant complete kapparah.

Now for the behind the scenes of what makes this Meshech Chochma special.  If you have the edition with R’ Kopperman’s notes or you take a look before the mafteichos in some editions of the Ohr Sameich, they quote the following story: the Meshech Chochma once had a dream in which he witnessed the giants of Klal Yisrael learning in the yeshiva shel ma'alah.  At that gathering, the Rashba stood up and declared that there is a Jew in Dvinsk who was mechavein l’amito shel Torah more than he was.  The Rashba writes in a teshuvah that it made no sense that there should even be a passing hava amina (see Chulin 22) that an olas ha’of could be brought at night -- it must be a girsa error.  We already know from pesukim that avodah always takes place during the day, no exceptions.  But the Ohr Samayach says the hava amina is a good hava amina.  Based on the Ibn Ezra, we know that an olas ha’of corresponds to the fats of an animal korban.  Since those fats can be burned on the mizbeiach even at night, one might have thought that an olas ha’of could be brought even at night as well, kah mashma lan that it can’t.  The Meshech Chochma then woke up and reportedly was in a good mood that entire day.  After all, it’s not every day that the Rashba sings your praises in the yeshiva shel ma’alah!

Rav Kopperman adds in his notes that this yesod also helps us explain a difficult Rambam.  The Rambam suggests that the reason the entire korban mincha of a kohein is burned on the mizbeiach, as opposed to just a small kemitza portion, is because were only a small portion offered it would look like the kohein is not offering anything – he brings a korban, but the majority of his “gift” amounts to a meal for himself.  The Tur asks: but someone brings a chatas ha’of, he eats the whole thing and the mizbeiach gets nothing – why in that case are we not concerned with it looking like the person’s gift is really just an excuse for dinner?   Based on the Ibn Ezra, the difference is clear.  True, the owner eats the entire chatas bird, but along with that chatas he has to being an olah that is entirely consumed on the mizbeiach to complete the parallel to an animal korban.  The two birds are two halves of a single whole, not two separate parts. 

6 comments:

  1. The story of the Ohr Sameach in the dream is found in the introduction to Sefer Mekor Baruch (the one on Kodshim, not R Baruch Epstein)

    See also here in Kol Zvi 13 (specifically pages 141-144) for an article by my good friend Eli Belizon where he brings this and addresses a number of other issues in light of this Ohr Sameach.
    http://www.yutorah.org/lectures/lecture.cfm/800009/_Editor_Kol_Zvi/Kol_Zvi_Volume_13#

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The YU kollel learned zevachim?

      Delete
    2. The Kollel Elyon (Rav Willig and Rav Rosensweig's kollel, not Rav Schachter's kollel) learned zvachim in 2010-2011 and prior to that in maybe '04-'05, and also in the first year of the Kollel (around '98 or so). There's three Kol Zvis on zvachim.

      Delete
  2. Other than Purim and Yom HaKippurim, and Adam and Chava [et seq], what other similar dualities are there?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Didn't Rav Hutner say he is the same shoresh haneshoma of Rav Kook? Does that count?
      ; )

      Delete
  3. Wow thank you so much for this pshat and story!!! Lost my olam haba for that pleasure I ODd on

    ReplyDelete