Thursday, March 06, 2014

Some thoughts on parshat Vayikra

Pasuk 1:

Hashem calls to Moshe, and this is according him honor. We have attention that Hashem called to Moshe, since it is the very beginning of a sefer. This is why the aleph is small:

א  וַיִּקְרָא, אֶל-מֹשֶׁה; וַיְדַבֵּר ה אֵלָיו, מֵאֹהֶל מוֹעֵד לֵאמֹר.1 And the LORD called unto Moses, and spoke unto him out of the tent of meeting, saying:

If we eliminate the aleph, it is vayikar, which rather than mere accidental meeting (as it was by Bilaam), it is "and He accorded honor to Moshe."

As we see in Megillat Esther, perek 6:

ג  וַיֹּאמֶר הַמֶּלֶךְ--מַה-נַּעֲשָׂה יְקָר וּגְדוּלָּה לְמָרְדֳּכַי, עַל-זֶה; וַיֹּאמְרוּ נַעֲרֵי הַמֶּלֶךְ, מְשָׁרְתָיו, לֹא-נַעֲשָׂה עִמּוֹ, דָּבָר.3 And the king said: 'What honour and dignity hath been done to Mordecai for this?' Then said the king's servants that ministered unto him: 'There is nothing done for him.'

Pasuk 4, Semicha:

ד  וְסָמַךְ יָדוֹ, עַל רֹאשׁ הָעֹלָה; וְנִרְצָה לוֹ, לְכַפֵּר עָלָיו.4 And he shall lay his hand upon the head of the burnt-offering; and it shall be accepted for him to make atonement for him.

It seems like the semicha functions somehow to effect the atonement. We might imagine it in a more "primitive" fashion, that his expiation is accomplish by transferring his guilt, or his self, onto the animal, which is then sacrificed.

But is that all that is necessary for atonement?! Religious magic? This seems like a loophole. We could answer that there is emotive force behind it, that besides appointing this as a proxy, he is acknowledging that his own fats should be burning on the altar. And that is therefore an internal admission of guilt and regret.

However, according to the gemara in Yoma 36a, Semicha explicitly entails vidui, confession of one's sin:
תנו רבנן כיצד סומך הזבח עומד בצפון ופניו למערב והסומך עומד במזרח ופניו למערב ומניח שתי ידיו בין שתי קרנות של זבח ובלבד שלא יהא דבר חוצץ בינו לבין הזבח ומתודה על חטאת עון חטאת ועל אשם עון אשם ועל עולה עון לקט שכחה ופאה ומעשר עני דברי רבי יוסי הגלילי רבי עקיבא אומר אין עולה באה אלא על עשה ועל לא תעשה שניתק לעשה
Interpretation (of וכפר, for instance)? Reformation?

See also an interesting Torah Temimah, note 31 (on the bottom of the page) on whether and what viduy one makes on a Shelamim. The gemara notes nothing, Rambam offers that one should say shevach, but gives it as his own idea. Torah Temima points out II Divrei Hayamim 30:22:

כב  וַיְדַבֵּר יְחִזְקִיָּהוּ, עַל-לֵב כָּל-הַלְוִיִּם--הַמַּשְׂכִּילִים שֵׂכֶל-טוֹב, לַה; וַיֹּאכְלוּ אֶת-הַמּוֹעֵד, שִׁבְעַת הַיָּמִים, מְזַבְּחִים זִבְחֵי שְׁלָמִים, וּמִתְוַדִּים לַה אֱלֹהֵי אֲבוֹתֵיהֶם.  {ס}22 And Hezekiah spoke encouragingly unto all the Levites that were well skilled in the service of the LORD. So they did eat throughout the feast for the seven days, offering sacrifices of peace-offerings, and giving thanks to the LORD, the God of their fathers. {S}

1 comment:

Some Guy Who Likes Ralbags said...

Another similar but I think more interesting explanation for semikha is from Ralbag, that's a sort of coping mechanism:
לזאת הסיבה היתה הסמיכה, להורות שהוא כאילו סילק מעליו אותן העוונות והעתיק אותם על ראש הבעל-חיים ההוא, כדי שיתיישב בלבו שכבר נתכפרו לו אותם החטאים
He goes on to explain (like the recurring theme in so many rishonim) that most people will be able to have more intensified and coherent thoughts when accompanied by actions


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