This Week's Edition
of Parsha Insights
is dedicated in Honor of
the Birthday of the Editor

by his wonderful parents-in-law

Mr. and Mrs. Norman Osherman


"And He called to Moshe, and Hashem spoke to him from the Tent of Meeting saying." (Leviticus 1:1)

In the Torah scroll, the word Vayikra (He called), is written with a small alef (à).

The Kli Yakar states that the name of the letter alef is related to the verse:

"And I will teach you wisdom." (Job 33:33)
Being the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet, it stands for all the potential a Jew has to learn and grow in Torah. Therefore our alef is written smaller in order to remind one who learns and becomes wise in Torah to always maintain a humble manner, for that is the key to his success.

Rabbenu Chayim David Azulai, the Chid"a, in his work Pnai David, quotes this Kli Yakar and adds that his explanation finds favor in his eyes, and then he continues with his own explanation. Whenever a "Vav" is the first letter of a word, we have an opportunity to expound on the meaning of the word as denoting a repetitive action. Therefore, following the Kli Yakar, Vayikra means to learn (or teach) and go back and learn it again. This is, says the Chid"a a lesson in the proper path to take if one will achieve the wisdom of the Torah. As it says it Pirkei Avos (5:21):

"Ben Bag Bag said, 'Learn it (the Torah), and learn it again for everything is in it.'"

This also provides a deeper understanding of the Midrash Vayikra Rabbah (Parshas Tzav 7:3).

"Rav Asi asked, 'Why do little school children begin their Chumash learning with Vayikra and not with Bereishis? It is because little children are pure and unblemished, and the sacrifices are pure and unblemished. The pure ones begin their learning with the study of the pure.'"
Rav Asi is saying that children must eventually learn that the path of success in Torah study is founded on review. One must learn the chapter and then review it over and over.

{The Talmud in (Tractate Chagiga 9b), "One who reviews his learning 101 times cannot be compared to one who reviews only 100 times." There is a point at which the benefit from review becomes astronomical in its proportion.

There is a letter from Rav A. Y. Kook, the first Chief Rabbi of Israel, written to his nephew who was a student in one of the great European Yeshivos. "I rejoiced at receiving your latest letter and in hearing about your happiness and progress in learning. I was, however, dismayed to hear that you are only reviewing your learning 10 times. Unless you accept upon yourself a regimen of review of 40 times, your learning will not be retained."}

Nevertheless, maintains the Chid"a, even when one will review his learning as is necessary, it must always be remembered that the alef in Vayikra is small, because without the alef, Vayikra becomes Vayikar, meaning temporary or ephemeral. Without humility, ones learning, even after review, will amount to nothing.

The Torah testifies that Moshe Rabbenu indeed understood this lesson.

"And the man Moshe was the most humble of men on the face of the earth." (Number 12:3)
And there was no one who understood the depths of the Torah like Moshe, as it is written,
"A prophet like Moshe never arose again in Israel; one with who Hashem spoke face to face." (Deut. 34:10)


The Book of Vayikra (Leviticus), contains some of the most difficult subjects in the Torah. The concepts of sacrifices is one that is very foreign. There are some important lessons to use in our Avodas Hashem.

"Speak to the Children of Israel and say to them, when a man from you will offer up a sacrifice to G-d, from the cattle, herds or flocks should the sacrifice be brought." (Leviticus 1:2)
The Midrash however, rereads the verse to give us a deeply challenging insight. The new reading is as follows: "Speak to the Children of Israel and say to them, when a man will offer up a sacrifice -- FROM YOU, shall be an offering to Hashem...." Hashem wants us, not just our sacrifices.

In fact, every sacrifice had to be accompanied by genuine repentance before it was accepted. The Cohen/Priest was able to tell if the person was sincere in his feelings. If not, he would signal to the administering Levites to sing a soul stirring melody that would arouse the sacrificer to genuine repentance. Only then could the sacrifice become acceptable.

Only when one gives up something of himself, does he make a sacrifice that is pleasing to Hashem.


The richest man in Cracow had just died and nobody wanted to attend to his funeral preparations. He had always lived as in exile in his own city. He never gave money to the poor. He had for years turned away every appeal for Tzedakah that had come his way. He had consistently ignored his community for years. They called him Shiya the Kamtzan (miser). He had no children. Before his death he had called the Burial Society, but they refused to bury him unless he gave them a certain amount that they could give to the poor. He refused. So he died, and they just left his body alone in the house. Finally, after several days, a neighbor took pity on him and buried him at the edge of the graveyard.

Soon afterwards, the Rav of the city, R' Yom Tov Lipman, started to see a lack in community funds. Numerous poor families began coming to him for help. When called by the head of the charity committee, he learned that an unprecedented number of families were looking for funds to meet Shabbos expenses.

R' Yom Tov Lipman began to investigate. As he questioned each petitioner, a pattern emerged. The "envelope"! Each one had the same story. Every Friday morning there was an envelope that had been slipped underneath the front door, with just enough money inside to cover the week's expenses. How long had this been going on? Each one again told the same story. He had been to see Shiya the Kamtzan, who had interrogated him thoroughly as to his family size, needs etc., then had thrown him out of the house empty-handed with a violent warning never to dare beg from him again. Soon afterwards, the envelopes appeared.

R' Yom Tov Lipman was gripped with an uncontrollable trembling as he realized the stark truth, that nobody had ever known. Shiya the Kamtzan had been supporting Cracow for years, secretly. not wanting to derive any benefit from his mitzvos. In order to do that, he gave up friends, community, anything that resembled normal life.

R' Yom Tov Lipman called for all the residents of Cracow's Jewry to assemble the next evening in the Central Synagogue. R' Yom Tov Lipman began to wail, "Shiya, Shiya, Holy Shiya. How can we stand before your memory. how can we possibly beg your forgiveness?!

The Rav revealed to all the real story of Shiya the Kamtzan. He requested in his last will and testament that he buried outside the graveyard, next to Shiya. And he also had the headstone changed. On the grave of the miser it is now inscribed "Shiya HaKamtzan HaKodesh." (The Holy One)


Rosh Chodesh Nissan, the beginning of Aviv (spring), ushers in the season when we say Bircas Ha'Ilanos, the blessing upon seeing fruit trees (only) in bloom.

This is a special brachoh since it is recited only once a year. In it we praise Hashem's ongoing renewal of creation. The Brachoh is as follows:

"Blessed be You . . . .King of the World, whose world is not lacking for anything, and He created in it good creations and good trees for the benefit of mankind." (See your Siddur for the Hebrew.)

Bircas Ha'Ilanos is recited immediately upon seeing a tree in bloom during the month of Nissan (unless like this year), Rosh Chodesh Nissan falls on Shabbos. (The growth of leaves alone is not sufficient to allow one say the brachoh.)

One who saw the trees in bloom during Nissan, but forgot or neglected to recite the brachoh, may recite the brachoh only until the time that the fruit of the tree has begun to grow.

Ideally, Bircas Ha'Ilanos should be recited with a minyan of 10, outside othe city limits and only on two or more trees. There are those who hold that these two trees should be of two different species. Reading for before and after the brachoh are found in the Siddurim.

According to Kabbolah, this brachoh has special significance. It should therefore, be said with intense concentration and kavannah (intention).

". . .See (said Yitzchok of Yaacov), the fragrance of my son is like the fragrance of a field which Hashem has blessed." (Genesis 27:27)

It is brought down, that this verse refers to one who recites the Bircas Ha'Ilanos with the proper intention.
(Ben Ish Chai, Orach Chayim, 8:14)

With this brachoh it is possible to redeem the souls who have been re-incarnated in the realm of Tzomeach (vegetation), and make it possible for them to continue or complete their Tikkun.
(Ben Ish Chai, Orach Chayim, 7:5)

A Guten Shabbos

A Gut Chodesh


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