Dvar Torah Emor — Where There’s a Will

Home Forums Decaffeinated Coffee Dvar Torah Emor — Where There’s a Will

Viewing 7 posts - 1 through 7 (of 7 total)
  • Author
  • #1969664

    Emor — Where There’s a Will
    וכי תזבחו זבח שלמים לה’ לרצנכם תזבחו

    When you slaughter a sacrifice of a thanksgiving-offering to Hashem, you shall slaughter it to be an appeasement for you.” (22:29)

    According to most mefarshim, the words “lirtzonchem tizbachu” teach us that the korban todah should be slaughtered in a way that it will bring its bearer an appeasement (see Rashi ad loc.). But the words can also be translated differently: that the one offering the korban should do it willingly, wholeheartedly, without a sense of coercion.

    We can understand how a korban chatas, which is brought after one is informed that he unknowingly committed a sin and is thus not in the happiest state of mind, would perhaps be brought unwillingly. Yet one who brings a korban todah has just been saved; he makes a seudas hodaah and gives thanks to Hashem for his salvation. Is there a happier time than this? So why in regard to the todah does the Torah find a need to instruct us to bring it willingly?

    The Ksav Sofer (as loc.) explains that the Torah is not only referring to the joy at the end, but the suffering at the beginning. As grateful as a person is to have recovered from the illness, to have survived the experience of crossing the sea, to have safely traversed the desert, or to have been freed from imprisonment, part of him is holding back and unhappy after all he had to undergo up to this point; all he had to endure was against his ratzon. As happy as he is now, his attitude may be, Wouldn’t I have been better off without having to suffer to begin with?

    The Torah therefore commands us, “Lirtzonchem tizbachu — Offer it willingly, with a whole heart.” The suffering itself deserves its own thanks. It says in Tehillim (94:12), “Ashrei hagever asher teyasrenu Kah u’mi’Torascha selamdenu — Praiseworthy is the man whom G-d disciplines, and whom You teach from Your Torah.” Suffering is the result of sin, and yessurim expiate sin, eliminating the need for even worse suffering in the World to Come. Hence, the person should be grateful not only for the salvation but for the suffering that preceded it. As he brings the korban todah, he should accept the entire “package” willingly.

    The Radak explains the first part of the above verse in Tehillim in the context of the second half:”U’mi’Toras’cha selamdenu — And whom You teach from Your Torah.” Via the yessurim, the suffering, Hashem educates the individual with wisdom and with Torah, that he should repent and begin to serve Hashem with a full heart. Accordingly, not only is the gratitude because of the lessening of future suffering, but because of the change that occurs in the person in the here and now. (See also Maharsha Chiddushei Aggados: Shabbos 13b, on the words “she’hayu mechavevin es hatzaros.”)

    After going through a trying event and emerging at the other end, the person is changed; he is closer to the Ribbono shel Olam and better than before. As he comes to appreciate not only the cure but the journey through suffering, he is truly ready to bring a korban todah — and that is what the Torah is saying. A person should bring the sacrifice with a whole heart and be grateful, not just for the joy of victory but for the joy and the gain in the struggle. This warrants a party, a seudas hodaah replete with the requisite korban.

    Rav Yonasan Steif reaffirms this message in Chadashim Gam Yeshanim when explaining the Gemara in Berachos (54b): Four people must bring a korban todah: one who descended into the sea, one who walked in the desert, one who was ill and recovered, and one who had been incarcerated and was freed. In each of the four, the predicament is mentioned in the Gemara, though not necessarily (or in the case of the sick or the imprisoned, not only) the reason for the todah. Why not focus exclusively on the real source of gratitude, the safe crossing of the sea, the arrival at the other side of the desert, the recovery from illness, or the release from jail?

    Based on our earlier points, the reason is clear. Not only are we to be grateful for having left the sickbed or escaped the sea, but even for having gotten sick or gone into the sea in the first place. Gratitude is not just for our making it out of the desert or the jail, but also for what we made it out with: atonement for our sins, as well as a newfound closeness to Hashem and appreciation for life.

    When giving instructions regarding the korban shelamim, the Torah uses a similar ending to the pasuk (Vayikra 19:5): “Ve’chi sizbechu zevach shelamim la’Shem lirtzonchem tizbachuhu — When you slaughter a sacrifice of a peace-offering to Hashem, you shall slaughter it to appease for you.” Rav Shlomo Kluger (Imrei Shefer, Kedoshim) employs the second way of translating the word “lirtzonchem,” meaning that the korban, in this case, a shelamim, should be brought willingly.

    Rav Kluger explains that these words not only teach us the mindset one should have when bringing the korban after facing a trying time, but also give us an antidote to avoid the challenge. When facing adversity, people turn to Hashem and vow to bring a korban shelamim when they are safe and healthy. As David HaMelech states in Tehillim (66:13-14) “Avo veis’cha ve’olos ashaleim lecha nedarai. Asher patzu sefasai ve’diber pi ba’tzar li — I will enter Your house with burnt-offerings; I will fulfill to You my vows. That my lips uttered and my mouth spoke in my distress.”

    Yet as worthy and heartfelt as these sacrifices are, they are prompted by the misfortune of the individual, who is, to some extent, being forced into making a vow and doing so without true ratzon. As said before, he would prefer to be without the tzarah altogether, and not have to bring a korban shelamim when it is all over.

    The solution, says Rav Kluger, is foresight. If a person were to bring a korban shelamim when all is good and well, even before a problem develops, he will have no need to undergo suffering. The Gemara (Sanhedrin 44b) advises, “Le’olam yakdim adam tefillah le’tzarah — A person should always preempt trouble through prayer.” A prayer or korban brought before a problem even crops up is truly voluntary. Thus, the Torah instructs us to bring a korban shelamim without any external compulsion, “lirtzonchem.”

    The Imrei Shefer’s lesson can also be gleaned from a Kli Yakar in Parashas Bechukosai (27:2), where he discusses the placement of the laws of arachin (values) just after the Tochachah, which contains the curses that come upon Bnei Yisrael if they fail to follow the Torah. Often, Jews make vows, such as arachin (where someone promises to dedicate to the Mikdash the mandated amount from the Torah for a particular individual at a particular age), when faced with crisis and adversity — but there it ends. With the crisis averted, he reverts back to his old ways, which originally brought about the tzarah. This is unlike Yaakov Avinu, who, when on the run from Eisav, vowed to give maaser and also erect a house of G-d, if Hashem saved him and protected him (Bereishis 28:20-22). Later, he made good on his vow (Bereishis 32:14, Rashi; Bereishis 35:14) and also continued in his good ways.

    The Kli Yakar bolsters his point by citing a fascinating observation of the Baal HaTurim (Vayikra 27:3), who links the 143 curses (the sum of the forty-five in Parashas Bechukosai and the ninety-eight in Ki Savo) to the 143 shekalim mentioned in the parashah of arachin. (This number is arrived at by adding all the amounts of arachin dependent on age and gender: 50+30+20+10+5+3+15+10=143.) According to the Baal HaTurim, dedications based upon the evaluation of people atone or protect from the curses listed in the Tochachah. Yet the Kli Yakar sees it differently, that the 143 curses cause the 143 shekalim, meaning that when someone finds himself in a state of trouble and the object of these curses, he makes vows and commits to dedications in order to save himself.

    This unfortunate situation is discussed in the Gemara (Chagigah 5a), which first cites the verse in Devarim (31:21), “Ve’hayah ki simtzena oso ra’os rabbos ve’tzaros — It shall be that when many evils and distresses come upon him,” and explains that a situation of “ra’os rabbos ve’tzaros — many evils and distresses” refers to one who provides money to a poor person as a loan during his financial distress. The Gemara is telling us that the borrower was needy already before he borrowed the money from this individual due to his outstanding debts, yet now that he has the money in hand, he feels a pressure to repay his new creditor.

    However, the poor always live in a state of financial distress. This is as we learn from Mishlei (15:15), “Kol yemei ani ra’im — All the days of a poor man are bad.” Thus, in this case, it makes sense to say that we are referring not to the borrower’s difficult pressing financial circumstances — but the pressing circumstances of the lender. The tragedy is that some people are only willing to lend money to others when they face their own troubles. Thinking that they can buy their way back into Hashem’s good graces, they are charitable and kind to others. Like the sufferer of the curses of the Tochachah, they feel that offering arachin to the Mikdash or money to the poor will solve their problem and bring about their salvation.

    The Kli Yakar posits (as had Rav Shlomo Kluger above) that prevention is the best medicine. By offering the korban shelamim when it is still “lirtzonchem,” without any outside pressure, or the shekalim of arachin before any curses take effect, we can prevent the problem from occurring to begin with.

    As the Kli Yakar concludes, all that a man does without being forced, but from his own free will, is truly fulfilling the ratzon of Hashem, thus falling under the category of: “Yom ratzon la’Shem — A day of favor to Hashem” (Yeshayahu 58:5), and “Vayafek ratzon mei’Hashem — He elicits favor from Hashem ” (Mishlei 8:35).

    (Please see the Kli Yakar in Devarim 31:17 for an elaboration on this pshat.)

    Reb Eliezer

    The Chasan Sofer explains that tefilas arvis is a reshus as a person should daven when it is going good for him and not wait when he is in distress. We should not wait when we are obligated when it comes to thanking Hashem. The Ramban says that in eis tzara it is a mitzva min hatorah to pray bacause then a person is forced to daven because of his circumstances. The Dubner explains that even though Yisro appreciated krias yam suf and millchemes amolek but that the servitude in mitzraim was also for our benefit Moshe Rabbenu had to tell him. He explaines where the means seems bad but the end turns out to be good, we must thank for the means just as for the end.

    Reb Eliezer

    They say, יהי רצון – when there is a will, there is a way. Yeder ken zein a Vilna Gaon ob men will nor, everyone can become a Vilner Gaon if the will is there.


    One of the Rishonim, rabeinu Efrayim interprets it long the line of heaving an inner ‘offering’.

    His exact wirds:

    “‘וכי תזבחו זבח שלמים’ – כלומר כשאתם זובחים, צריכים לעשות שלום ביניכם ובין אביכם שבשמים.
    ‘לרצונכם תזבחו’ – כלומר לדעתכם, כמ״ש רז״ל ‘יפה מרדות אחת בלבו של אדם ממאה מלקיות’ “.


    – Thank you reb eliezer for reminding the vort: “Vil-Nor…Goen.”

    – Abukspan, nice Likut. Great job.

    Reb Eliezer

    The Peninim Yekorim on Parashas Ki Savo indicates in the name of a gadol that there are 676 words in the tochaachos over there and 26 shemos each adding up to 26 total, 26×26 = 676. This is hinted in the pasuk, rabos raos tzadik. Moshe Rabbenu mentions 676 words of tochacha, umikulom yatzulenu Hashem, and from all Haahem times Hashem protects us.

    Reb Eliezer

    In the above Tehilim (34,20), raos adds up to 676.

Viewing 7 posts - 1 through 7 (of 7 total)
  • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.