Parshat Vayikra 5784: “When Leader(s) Sin…”

Shalom Friends;

This year’s Parshiyot Vayikra vort is being sponsored by Benyamin and Tracy Skriloff of Ramat Beit Shemesh dedicated for the safety of the Chayalim and the liberation of all hostages and their return home whole physically, mentally and spiritually as well as for the good health and security of kol Am Yisrael.. To the Skriloff family, many thanks for your sponsorship and for your continued kindnesses.

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Moshe Burt
Skype: mark.burt3

Parshat Vayikra 5784: “When Leader(s) Sin…”

by Moshe Burt

Once again, in our Parshat Vayikra, this author notes that Torah records a message in posukim which seems pertinent to our ongoing war with the barbaric, wild beastly animals of Hamas, their terrorist bodies and many of the so-called “innocent civilians” who collaborated, and were accomplices to the murderous massacre of over 1,200 Israelis and the taking of over 250 hostages on Simchat Torah:

“When a ruler sins; and commits one from among all of the Commandments of Hashem that may not be done — unintentionally — and becomes guilty: If the sin that he committed becomes known to him, he shall bring his offering, a male goat, unblemished.” (Perek 4, posukim 22 – 23 as rendered to English in the Artscroll Stone Edition Chumash)

The Artscroll Stone Edition Chumash cites Rashi on the word: Ahsher — When: in posuk 22. Three other posukim in this Perek begin with the logical V’Im, if someone sins. Why does this posuk begin with the term “When,” which implies that the sin is inevitable? Sforno suggests that powerful and wealthy people are indeed likely to sin. The verse concludes: “and becomes guilty,” because it is essential that powerful people acknowledge and feel remorse for their sin, lest they sin again.

Rashi cites Sifra that the word “Ahsher” alludes to “Ahshrei,” fortunate. This implies that the generation whose leader seeks atonement even for his unintentional sins is fortunate for he will surely repent his intentional sins.

Unfortunately, we do not have a Beit HaMikdash and are, thus unable to offer an atonement offering. However, we are able, in our times, as well as in post-Beit HaMikdash history, to atone through tefillah, tehillim and other dialogue with Hashem.

Rabbi Shmuel Goldin writes, in his sefer, “Unlocking the Torah Text,” Sefer Vayikra (pages 31 – 32) :

At the dawn of history, the Torah establishes a truth most famously verbalized… by the nineteenth-century moralist Lord John Emerich Edward Dalberg Acton: “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” (Rabbi Goldin citing from a letter to Bishop Mandell Creighton in 1887)

Through a simple twist of text, Hashem warns of the dangers of leadership. From the Torah’s perspective the issue is not “if a leader will sin,” but “when a leader will sin.” Whether because of the corrupting influence of power or simply because of the risks a leader must take, the assumption of a leadership position carries the inevitability of sin.

Rabbi Zelig Pliskin heads up a vort in his sefer, “Growth Through Torah” as follows and explains (page 238):

When in position of power have the courage to admit your mistakes.

The king was a person with much power, and power gives a person such high feelings about himself that he is unlikely to admit that he has done anything wrong. For this reason when the king with unlimited power admits that he has erred and regrets what he has done. it is fortunate for his generation. (Rabbi Pliskin citing Maskil L’Dovid)

People who are power-hungry have a strong tendency to deny making mistakes. When such a person is in a position of authority, he is likely to consider himself so perfect that whatever he does and says must be correct. Admitting that one has erred takes much courage, The more power you have, the greater the importance of having the intellectual honesty to admit that you have made a mistake.

The inevitability of sin in leadership runs the gamut (noun: the entire scale or range) : from king, when there was one, to the national leader — be they president, prime minister, as well as political/governmental leadership, secretary or ministerial portfolios, through to top military leadership.

This author views this inevitability of leadership — political, governmental and military to err (verb: to go astray in thought or belief; be mistaken; be incorrect; to go astray morally; sin) as a prime cause of unpreparedness for the Hamas onslaught on Simchat Torah. The failure to heed warnings far in advance of Hamas, Hezbollah, Iranian and Yemenite preparations for war against us, as well as equivocation on the government’s part in entering negotiations for ceasefires which encompass supplies to Gaza which end up in Hamas hands rather than in Gazan civilian hands, as well as negotiating return of hostages in exchange for bloody-handed terrorists incarcerated in Israel rather than going all out to totally win this war and LIBERATE all remaining hostages by the hands of our Chayalim by the Yad Hashem have all led to the lessening of the world’s perception of Israel’s credibility and and level of military prowess and deterrence. The sins of Israel’s political, governmental and military leadership have put the security of the nation of Israel and Jews worldwide in peril.

May it be that our Chayalim emerge totally, unequivocally victorious — eradicating Hamas, their terrorist buddies and the so-called “innocent civilians” of Gaza who joined with Hamas in their murderous deeds, from the face of the earth, and that the Chayalim return home whole — physically, mentally and spiritually and that the Chayalim Liberate and bring home all remaining hostages. And may we see the restoration of true unity within Am Yisrael.

May we, the B’nei Yisrael be zocha that our brethren — the refugee families from Gush Katif be permanently re-settled in Gush Katif, once the IDF, by the Yad Hashem, destructs and eradicates the wild beasts of Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Hezbollah, all other terror entities, and if necessary Iran, and that our brethren be made totally whole — be totally restituted for all that was stolen from them, that the thrice expelled families of Amona be restored to their rebuilt homes and the oft-destroyed Yeshiva buildings in Homesh be rebuilt, as well as the buildings of Yishuv Elchanan, all at total government expense. May our Chayalim return from battle unharmed — physically, mentally and spiritually and may all of the hostages brutally taken by the wild beasts of Hamas be liberated and returned to their families. Baruch Hashem that our dear brother Jonathan Pollard is now in his fourth year at home in Eretz Yisrael and continues in a new chapter in his life. May Esther Yocheved bat Yechiel Avraham have an aliyah in Shemayim and may her spirit and memory continue to lift Jonathan to at least 120 years. May the MIAs be liberated alive and returned to us in ways befitting Al Kiddush Hashem — as with the return in April, 2019, via Russia, of the remains of Zachariah Baumel, as should the remains of the two chayalim from the Gaza War of nine years ago. 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 prevent Chas V’Challila the handing of Jewish land over to anyone, let alone to enemies sworn to Israel’s and Judaism’s destruction and eradication. May we see, in 5784, the REAL Jews from the Ukraine and Russia as well as the US and Canada, the real Jews via matrilineal descent, make Aliyah enmass — via thorough review by Misrad HaPanim. And may we soon and finally see the total end to the Communist Chinese Wuhan Lab corona virus pandemic and all like viruses and variants. May we fulfill Hashem’s blueprint of B’nei 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 Al’Kol HaGoyim”, the Ultimate Redemption, bimhayrah b’yamainu — speedily, in our time”, — Achshav, Chik Chuk, Miyad, Etmol!!!

Good Shabbos!
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.