MISC section - contents:
 Vebbe Rebbe
 From the virtual desk of the OU
The Orthodox Union - via its website - fields questions of all types in areas of kashrut, Jewish law and values. Some of them are answered by Eretz Hemdah, the Institute for Advanced Jewish Studies, Jerusalem, headed by Rav Yosef Carmel and Rav Moshe Ehrenreich, founded by HaRav Shaul Yisraeli zt"l, to prepare rabbanim and dayanim to serve the National Religious community in Israel and abroad. Ask the Rabbi is a joint venture of the OU, Yerushalayim Network, Eretz Hemdah... and the Israel Center. The following is a Q&A from Eretz Hemdah...
Q: Must someone in charge of a shul do bedikat chametz in the shul in addition to telling people to remove any chametz from their places?
A: The Yerushalmi (Pesachim 1:1) says that shuls and batei midrash need bedikat chametz because certain meals are held in them. The Tur (Orach Chayim 433, accepted by the Shulchan Aruch, OC 433:10) says that shuls of his time required it because small children would bring in food. Major Acharonim (Magen Avraham 433:19; Mishna B'rura 433:43) say that this is to be done with the rules of bedikat chametz, such as doing it on the night of the 14th by candle light. The Shulchan Aruch HaRav (433:36) and Mishna B'rura (ibid.) complain that shamashim are not sufficiently careful to do this bedika on the 14th at night.
Let us take a better look at the reason for this bedika. In general, there is a machloket Rishonim why we are required to do bedikat chametz. Rashi (Pesachim 2a - see Ran, Pesachim 1a) says that it is in order to avoid the prohibitions of bal yeira'eh and bal yimatzei (=byby; not to possess chametz on Pesach). Tosafot says that the Rabbis instituted bedikat chametz to distance people from coming to eat chametz.
It is unclear if the first reason applies to chametz that might have been left behind in a shul. The Chidushei Hagahot (on the Tur, ibid.) says that without the precedent of the Yerushalmi, we would say there is no need for bedika in shul, as byby could not apply to a public place that is not owned by an individual. The Perisha (433:11) says that we would have said that byby and bedika do not apply because whatever is left there becomes hefker (rendered ownerless). He points out that we see that the Yerushalmi assumes that we are more stringent regarding shuls than the regular rules would indicate. The Da'at Torah (on the Shulchan Aruch ibid.) seems to assume that the problem is that the community becomes partners in whatever is left in shul and that partners can violate byby in their joint possession. However, he questions whether there is much chance that there will be a significant amount (k'zayit per person), which would cause that issue.
The Aruch Hashulchan (OC 433:12) and Da'at Torah (ibid.) assume that, specifically in shul, the bedika was instituted because of concern that someone will come to eat it and, therefore, neither is convinced that one should make a b'racha on it. This is because the main institution of bedikat chametz with a b'racha was for possibilities of byby. The Shulchan Aruch HaRav and Mishna B'rura (ibid.) say that one should do it with a b'racha. Many suggest (see Y'chaveh Da'at I, 5) that to remove oneself from doubt of a b'racha l'vatala, he who checks the shul should first check his house and then go directly to the shul to check there based on the original b'racha. The traveling is not a hefsek (break) regarding the b'racha.
There are opinions that the bedikat chametz in shul is not a public obligation per se but that we are concerned that whoever might have left chametz behind (including the father of the young child we mentioned) would violate byby. The shamash has an obligation to look out for the members who might unknowingly be in that situation, and, in any case, whoever else is willing to help may search with a b'racha on behalf of nondescript others (see B'er Sarim IV, 68-69; Kinyan Torah Bahalacha V, 33).
Based on the above presentation, it is logical that bedikat chametz in a shul is an exception to the regular rules. Therefore, one could claim that there would not be a similar obligation to do a formal bedika in various other public facilities. However, we do note that Rav Ovadya Yosef (Yechaveh Da'at I, 5) assumes that public institutions such as bus companies and airlines should check their vehicles just as a shul does.
 Candle by Day
We strive to make our children independent because we have nothing to offer them. But what is their independence if not chaos? What we must do is make them entirely dependent, dependent upon the dictates of the good. And we must make ourselves exemplifiers of that good to them so that dependence upon us is the greatest gift they know; so that in being dependent upon us they are independent of evil. If we do this, our children will feel , not that they are dependent upon us, but that they depend upon us.
From "A Candle by Day" by Rabbi Shraga Silverstein
A Candle by Day - The Antidote - The World of Chazal by Rabbi Shraga Silverstein
Now available at 054-209-9200
 CHIZUK and IDUD for Olim & not-yet-Olim respectively
Parshat Vayikra begins the Torah's presentation of the laws of korbanot.
In his commentary on Chumash, Rabbi Shimshon Refael Hirsch stresses the inaccuracy of the translation of korban as "sacrifice", since that "implies the idea of giving something up that is of value to oneself for the benefit of another, or of having to do without something of value, ideas which are diametrically opposed to the real meaning of korban. Rabbi Hirsch notes that the root word of KORBAN is KAROV, to come near, and understands its meaning to be coming into a closer relationship with G-d. In Rabbi Hirsch's words: "it is nearness to G-d which is striven for by a korban."
This understanding of korban explains the connection between korbanot and Eretz Yisrael.
The Holy Alshikh quotes our Sages' comment that of all the lands of the world, only the Holy Land is super- vised in a direct personal manner by G-d, while all other lands are entrusted to a ministering angel. Thus, Alshikh explains that a Jew can connect to G-d and to his own spiritual roots in the Holy Land more easily than in other land.
May we achieve this connection with the Creator speedily in our days, with the rebuilding of the Beit HaMikdash.
David Magence , Jerusalem
TORAH THOUGHTS as contributed by Aloh Naaleh members for publication in the Orthodox Union's 'Torah Insights', a weekly Torah publication on Parshat HaShavu'a
 Wisdom & Wit
At the Pesach Seder of the Tzemach Tzedek, after the middle matza had been broken, one of the guests tried to measure the two pieces, to see which was the bigger one, to be used for the afikoman. Seeing this, the Tzemach Tzedek exclaimed, "If one has to measure to know which of the two is the larger piece, the other one is the larger."
As Pesach approached and his community still had not yet paid him, R' Yitzchak Shmelkes told his people: "As Pesach time approaches, every Rav has two concerns: he needs a speech for Shabbos Hagadol and he needs money to buy the provisions for the festival. As to the first, that is not really a problem, because he can always use a speech he had given years ago.
The same cannot be said about the provisions for Pesach. He cannot use last year's matza for this year's seder."
The Brisker Rav, R' Velvel, was asked: "Rebbe, now that there are so many volumes of explanation of the Talmud, including many that delve deeply into the meaning of the text, wouldn't it be enough for a person to acquire all his Torah knowledge from what is already in print, rather than needing to learn with a Rebbe?"
"The purpose of a Rebbe," replied the Brisker, "and in this, no printed work can replace one - is to teach a person what not to say."
Shmuel Himelstein has written a wonderful series for ArtScroll: Words of Wisdom, Words of Wit; A Touch of Wisdom, A Touch of Wit; and "Wisdom and Wit" available at your local Jewish bookstore (or should be). Excerpted with the permission of the copyright holder
 Parsha Points to Ponder - VAYIKRa
1) Why does the parsha begin with the words AND HE CALLED TO MOSHE without identifying G-D as the Torah usually does?
2) How can we understand the Torah's description of a sacrifice as a SWEET SMELL TO G-D (REI'ACH NICHO'ACH) (1:9)? After all, we know that G-D is not physical and has no sense of smell!
3) Why does the Torah say IF THE ANOINTED KOHEIN SHALL SIN TO THE GUILT OF THE PEOPLE (4:3), seemingly blaming the people for the sin of the kohein?
Ponder the questions first, then read here
1) Rabbeinu Bachya explains that Sefer Sh'mot concluded the with the description of G-D's Presence resting on the Mishkan. The Torah wants to emphasize that our Parsha is merely a continuation of the scene and that G-D had constricted Himself to the Holy of Holies and that Moshe could now enter the Ohel Moed. Had it stated that G-D CALLED TO MOSHE we would not have understood that this was a continuous flow from the end of Sh'mot to the beginning of Vayikra.
2) The Chidushei HaRim teaches that a REI'ACH, a scent, describes something that is recognized or detected far away. The sacrifice is simply a physical act which is only the representation of the fact that the person is changing his ways. G-D recognizing that we plan to change our ways is the REI'ACH which exudes from the sacrifice.
3) Rav Dovid Feinstein explains that TO THE GUILT OF THE PEOPLE does not mean that the people were responsible for the kohein's sinning. Rather, once the Kohein Gadol sins, the people will likely sin. His sin will lead TO THE GUILT OF THE PEOPLE. That is the great responsibility which our leaders carry and the Torah teaches this concept through these commands regarding the sin of the Kohein Gadol.
Parsha Points to Ponder is prepared by Rabbi Dov Lipman, who teaches at Reishit Yerushalayim, Tiferet, and Machon Maayan in Beit Shemesh and RBS and is the author of "DISCOVER: Answers for Teenagers (and adults) to Questions about the Jewish Faith",just re-published by Feldheim, firstname.lastname@example.org
 Portion from the Portion by Rakel Berenbaum
FEEDback to email@example.com
The Torah portion starts off with the word VAYIKRA - Hashem called to Moshe. When we look closely at the text of this verse we see that the last letter of the first word is written using a letter ALEF that is much smaller then the rest of the letters. What could be the hidden message in this minor change of dimension?
This change in the letter ALEF reminds us of another place in the Bible where a similar letter is changed in a different way. The book of DIVREI HAYAMIM (Chronicles) starts with a list of the generations from the creation of the world. The first word is ADAM (since he was the first human created) and there we find that the ALEF is bigger then the rest of the letters. Is there a message from this change as well, and is there some link between these seemingly disconnected verses?
ADAM was created by G-d Himself in the " divine image". Adam knew that he was better than all the animal kingdom around him. This knowledge seems to have gone to his head, made him overly proud and led him to sin with the Tree of Knowledge. The big ALEF in DIVREI HAYAMIM connected with the name of ADAM points to his feelings of self-importance. He felt he was big and great.
Moshe was also greater then all those around him. He was the greatest prophet who ever lived, being the one who talked face to face with G-d and brought down the Torah to the nation. But we are told that Moshe was ANAV, humble. Moshe was aware of his superior qualities, but this knowledge did not make him haughty. The BAAL HATURIM says the little ALEF here points to Moshe's humility - he didn't want to show off that Hashem spoke to him personally VAYIKRA - he wanted it to seem that it was VAYIKAR - just a coincidence.
How was Moshe able to recognize his own greatness but not become arrogant, whereas Adam was unable? Because he acknowledged that this greatness was given to him by Hashem. Without Hashem he would be nothing. That is a humbling realization.
We must all acknowledge our own greatness, our inborn potentials, talents and special capabilities. But we must remember that these are gifts given to us by Hashem in order to improve the world (TIKUN OLAM) in our own individual way. Hashem calls to us VAYIKRa, and endows us with greatness. We must utilize this greatness, but at the same time we must remember our place and remain humble like the small ALEF.
Since we discussed the significance of the big and little letter ALEF, this week's recipe is for a dish served with a big fish (salmon or other favorite fish) that is baked and set out on a plate garnished with small fish (sardines).
BIG & LITTLE FISH
2 lbs. (1 kilo) salmon (or your favorite fish) whole
1-2 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. marjoram leaves
1/3 tsp. thyme leaves
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/8 tsp. white pepper
2 bay leaves
1/2 cup chopped onion
Sprinkle of paprika
1/2 cup of white wine
two cans sardines
Preheat oven to 350F (175C) Wash fish, pat dry and place in dish. Combine oil with salt and herbs. Dribble over fish. Top with bay leaves and onions. Sprinkle with paprika. Pour wine over all. Bake, uncovered, for 20 to 30 minutes or until fish flakes easily with a fork. Place on serving plate. Surround with sardines.
 Eco-Rabbi www.GreenProphet.com
Excerpts from a weekly blog by Yaakov Reichert, drawing lessons in ecology from Parshat HaShavua
Meat for G-d
I'm a vegetarian... sympathizer. Yeah, I couldn't go without eating meat. But I understand the importance of respecting the animal that gave up its life to be eaten.
Down the block from where I live there are regular hafganot, demonstrations, against the slaughter of innocent animals so that we evil meat eaters can have an unhealthily full stomach.
Personally, I think that they'd do a lot more for the well-being of animals if they would protest the mistreatment of animals, and not their being eaten. Sure, the mistreatment is addressed at the demonstrations, but I think the message is lost in the presentation. I would certainly sign a petition to that extent, instead of what happens now, when I just get hungry for a burger when I see them there...
Coming from this perspective, the idea of sacrificing an animal is not an easy one to wrap my head around. The way the sacrifices seem to be presented in the Torah, it sounds like needless slaughter.
A friend of mine is a vegetarian, and a kohein. He was talking with a friend of his who does eat meat and that friend asked if he would fulfill the priestly obligations of sacrificing and eating if the Temple were to be built in his lifetime. When my friend answered that yes, he would, his friend asked how he could be a vegetarian but be willing to sacrifice animals?
In response, my friend asked how his friend was willing to sacrifice an animal's life for his own pleasure but not in honor of the One who created him, and the animal, for that matter.
Interestingly, the bulk of sacrifices during the time of the Temple were eaten. People could not afford to eat meat on a regular basis. But a few times a year, people were commanded to bring a sacrifice. Most of the meat went to them and their family. A portion went to the kohein who sacrificed it. And a small portion went to G-d, so to speak.
A person ate their sacrifice with friends and family because the law is that you had to finish it before the end of the day - a fringe benefit in pre-refrigeration days. And it was probably the most meat that they would have eaten all that year.
In days when buying a cow was the equivalent to buying a car today, it's hard for me to imagine that people were as wasteful with meat as they are today. The few sacrifices that were totally burnt were done so so that the person bringing the sacrifice would feel as if it was supposed to be them in the animal's place. A sacrifice to G-d. And when you raise the animal and bring it on foot across the country I can imagine that you truly felt it.
Consequently, the laws sound so gruesome because they cover every detail of how to sacrifice the animal, so that nothing goes to waste.
I wish that today people would think twice before they cook, eat and dispose of their meat. As I said, I could not give up meat. But I think that there is something special about dedicating the meat that you eat to G-d, the Creator of it all.
You can either ask others how do you really say Thermos in Hebrew... or you can ask them what a SHMARCHOM is? Your choice. See how many people connect the two words. Most people think that a Thermos is TERMOS, which you can get away with - but it's no fun. And how do you really say it in English? Thermos is a brand name. Vacuum bottle or vacuum flask.
The corona is a type of plasma "atmosphere" of the Sun extending millions of kilometers into space, most easily seen during a total solar eclipse. In Heb. ATARA
 Birkat HaIlanot
The bracha is said only once a year, during the month of Nissan, on fruit trees in blossom. It is not said on flowering trees that do not bear fruit. (Say the bracha ONLY if you are sure that the trees will bear fruit.)
It is not said on fruit trees that already have fruit; only on fruit trees when they display the flower blossoms that precede their fruit. It is preferable to say the bracha on at least two trees. The bracha should be said with a sense of awe, appreciation, admiration, and joy of HaShem and the world He created for us. We specifically acknowledge Him in the presence of fruit trees which delight our senses with their floral displays, even before they provide us with their tasty fruit. We realize that this is an extra-special gift from G-d to us.
BARUCH ATA HASHEM ELOKEINU MELECH HAOLAM SHELO CHISAR B'OLAMO KLUM, U'VARA VO BRIYOT TOVOT V'ILANOT TOVIM L'HANOT BNEI ADAM: (Some versions have DAVAR instead of KLUM)
Some add these T'hilim 122/128
Trees - by Joyce Kilmer
I think that I shall never see
A poem as lovely as a tree.
A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the earth's sweet flowing breast;
A tree that looks to God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;
A tree that may in summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;
Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.
Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.
 Divrei Menachem
A story is told of the shammas of a venerable Chassidishe Rebbe who was wont to spy on his master through a little hole he'd carved in the door of the rabbi's study. Once, in the middle of the night, the shammas heard the Rebbe creep into his room and so, as was his custom, he followed the Rebbe and peered through the hole?
To his amazement, he saw the Rebbe dancing and singing with glee as he held what appeared to be a letter in his hand. This repeated itself for three nights until, unable to control his curiosity, the shammas waited till the Rebbe went back to sleep, opened the rabbi's door and flung himself towards the envelope lying on the table in the study.
When he opened it, he saw but a blank sheet of paper! After confessing to the Rebbe that he'd spied on him, the Rebbe explained: "I and my friend know each other so well, we have no need to write anything - it's enough that I just receive the envelope and I jump with joy!"
So it was with Hashem and Moshe. After all the events described in the book of Sh'mot, the Book of Vayikra could open with but the simple words, "And He called to Moshe?" If only we too could reach such an intimate connection with Hashem that we'd intuitively hear His call!
Shabbat Shalom, Menachem Persoff