This week, our Parshat HaShevua Tzav is being co-sponsored by Rabbi Shimon and Sharon Isaacson of Ramat Beit Shemesh and Gidon and Devra Ariel of Yishuv Ma’alei Hever with both families dedicating for Hotslocha to their children. To the Isaacson and Ariel families, many thanks for your sponsorship and for your continued kindnesses.
You can celebrate a Simcha — a birth, a Bar/Bat Mitzvah, a Chassuna or other Simcha event in your life, or commemorate a Yahrtzeit of a loved one, or for whatever other reason by sponsoring a Parshat HaShevua.
Please forward to your relatives and friends and encourage them to sponsor a Parshat HaShevua. And please be in contact with me with any questions, or for further details.
Parshat Tzav 5775: Sparing a Fellow Jew Embarrassment By Way of Thought, Action or View Perception
by Moshe Burt
In our Parsha Tzav, Moshe’s command from Hashem to Aaron HaKohen and his sons is to take up and clothe themselves in their Vestments, their garments of service in the Mishkan, and to begin their daily Avodah (service and offerings in the Mishkan).
For seven days, Moshe taught Aaron HaKohen and his sons the laws of their Avodah in the Mishkan. (You might say that they were given, as one could term it in the US, OJT from Shemayim.) On the eighth day, Aaron and his sons began their Avodah.
One of the Halachot taught in our Parsha regards sparing ones’ fellow from embarrassment. Torah informs that Hashem tells Moshe Rabbeinu (Sefer Vayikra, Perek 6, posuk18):
“Speak to Aharon and his sons saying: This is the law of sin-offering. At the place where you slaughter the burnt-offering You shall slaughter the sin-offering…”
Rabbi Zelig Pliskin, in his sefer, “Growth Through Torah”(page 244) provides explanation:
The Talmud Yerushalmi (Yevamos 8:3)states that the reason the burnt-offerings and the sin-offerings were slaughtered at the same place was in order to save those who sinned from embarrassment. When people saw the animal being brought slaughtered, they would not know that it was a sin-offering.
From here, we see the principle of not causing others shame or discomfort when they have done something improper in the past and now regret it.
Shem Mishmuel (Sefer Shem Mishmuel, Rabbi Shmuel Bornstein, translated to English by Rabbi Zvi Belovski, pages 215-216) offers a side-bar on this Halacha:
The Olah… was slaughtered on the north side of the altar: “Slaughter it at the side of the altar, to the north, before Hashem… (Sefer Vayikra, Perek 1, posuk 11).
…The word for “north” used used in these verses is tzafon. This word has the same root as “matzpun”, meaning “conscience” or “intellect.” The olah is slaughtered in the north, because the north represents the intellect of man, the place where the sin requiring the olah takes place.
Shem Mishmuel then provides a footnote regarding the north:
Chazal always characterize the north as a high point of some sort; so, too, the intellect is the “highest”, most developed part of man.
Rabbi Mordechai Katz further explains this Halacha in his sefer “L’lmod U’lamed” (Page 104-105) citing Sotah 32b as well as Talmud Yerushalmi (Yevamos 8:3):
There was no particular place specifically designated for bringing… the Korban Chatos, the sin-offering in the Mishkan. This is significant. The Korban Chatos was offered by one who had sinned and now wished to repent. If there was a specified physical location for these korbonot, the identity of the sinners would become readily known, and this might in itself discourage repentance. Because the Korban Chatos is offered in the same place as the Korban Olah [burnt-offering], no one could be certain that the bearer of the Korban had actually sinned. In this way, the matter would remain private between man and Hashem, and the sinner would be spared public embarrassment.
If Hashem’s Torah laws deliberately avoid the shaming of others, then we should certainly be careful not to embarrass our fellow… Our Sages say that whoever insults his fellow… in public forfeits his place in the world to come. (Bava Metziah 59b) One can kill a man only once with a knife, but he can slay him many times over with a shameful word.
This author finds that these citations offer a profound meaning for our times beyond merely the cloaking of the place of these offerings so as to blur the distinction between one who brings an offering for a sin committed and one who brings an offering for what may be a sinful thought.
What’s meant here? For example, certain habits noted regarding tefillot, such as the tendency of some, or many who speed through their tefillot, and then when completed, continually glance around the shul as if thinking, “what’s taking sooo long? Why doesn’t the Gabai give the high-sign to the Shaliach Tzibbor to continue. Why are they sooo slow?”
Why can’t those glancing around the Shul merely pick up and learn from a sefer, a Chumash, etc. until the Shaliach Tzibbor is ready to continue, or to go into the repetition of Shemonah Essrei? Their action of glancing around the Shul impatiently creates perceived pressure, peer pressure on the Shaliach Tzibbor as well as on many of their fellows in the kehilla who daven at a slower pace. And might they also consider how they perhaps need to slow down their own tefillot so as to feel meaning from their prayers?
Then there is Aleinu, held by a number of great Chachamim as the holiest of tefillot — where the Gabbai and the Shaliach Tzibbor feel the intense pressure of all of those who are in this huge hurry for Kaddish so as to be done with tefillah or to rush out of Shul, such that the Shaliach Tzibbor blows through Aleinu at mac-1 speed or the speed of an Arnoldis Chapman or Ken Giles 100-plus mph fastball. Don’t they realize that their actions can be perceived as embarrassing their fellows who are trying to pray with kavanah, with intent? Further, there seems something very wrong when someone not in sync with a rapid davening kehilla needs to stop in the middle of his Aleinu for kaddish. If Aleinu is the holiest of tefillot, stopping in the middle, because a kehilla davens at the speed of light, somehow doesn’t seem proper kavod to The Almighty, even if Halacha permits.
As we work on our middah of not embarrassing our fellow in overt, obvious ways, we ought to also consider the covert ways, the less obvious ways that we embarrass our fellows on a daily basis, such as with tefillah, three times a day, everyday.
May we, the B’nai Yisrael be zocha that our brethren — the refugee families from Gush Katif be permanently settled and be made totally whole — be totally restituted for all that was stolen from them at leftist-agendized, supreme court legalized gunpoint, that our dear brethren Jonathan Pollard and Sholom Rubashkin, as well as the MIAs be liberated alive and returned to us in ways befitting Al Kiddush Hashem. May we have the courage and strength to stand up and physically prevent the possibility of Chas V’Challila any future eviction of Jews from their homes and the handing of Jewish land over to anyone, let alone to enemies sworn to Israel’s and Judaism’s destruction and eradication. May we fulfill Hashem’s blueprint of B’nai Yisrael as a Unique people — an Am Segula, not to be reckoned with as with “the nations” and may we be zocha to see the Moshiach, the Ge’ula Shlaima, as Dov Shurin sings; “Ki Karov Yom Hashem V’Kol HaGoyim”, the Ultimate Redemption, bimhayrah b’yamainu — speedily, in our time”, — Achshav, Chik Chuk, Miyad, Etmol!!!
Moshe Burt, an Oleh, is a commentator on news and events in Israel and Founder and Director of The Sefer Torah Recycling Network. He lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.