Friday, March 25, 2016

Torah Truth of the Ohr Samayach

By HaRav Mordechai Greenberg
Rosh HaYeshiva, Kerem B'Yavneh

"This is the law of the sacrifices of the Olah, the Mincha, the Chatat and the Asham... which G-d commanded Moshe at Mount Sinai, on the day when He commanded Bnei Yisrael..." [Vayikra 9:37-38]. This verse from the Torah portion ends the commandments about the sacrifices. From the words "on the day" the sages derived a rule that the sacrifices are only brought during the day and not at night (Chulin 22).

In the page of the Talmud before this, some laws pertaining to an Olah brought from a bird are derived from the laws of a Chatat brought from cattle. For example, "Just as a Chatat from cattle is brought only in the day, so an Olah of a bird is only brought during the day." The Talmud asks why a special derivation is needed, since the law of an Olah for a bird is included in the general law that a sacrifice should only be brought during the day. Why then is a special derivation needed, from the Chatat of cattle? The answer that is given is that we might think that the verse "on the day" refers only to a bird brought as a Chatat, while an Olah from a bird could indeed be brought at night, and therefore a special derivation is needed from the Chatat of cattle.

The Rashba asks why it is so clear that "on the day" can teach us the law that a Chatat from a bird cannot be brought at night, while it is not clear that an Olah from a bird can only be brought during the day (Responsa, 276). He comes to the conclusion that the text is in error and should be modified.

The Ohr Samayach gives a reply to this question (Maaser Sheni, chapter 7) based on the words of Ibn Ezra in the previous Torah portion (Vayikra 5:7). Ibn Ezra asks why for an "Oleh Veyored" sacrifice (which changes depending on the financial status of the one bringing the sacrifice) a wealthy person brings a sheep as a Chatat, while a poor person brings two birds – one as a Chatat and one as an Olah. Why doesn't a poor person bring a single Chatat of a bird instead of the Chatat of a sheep which the rich person brings? He replies that a Chatat of an animal is divided up into one part that is burned on the Altar and one part that is eaten by the Kohanim, while a Chatat of a bird is eaten by the Kohanim, and the Altar is merely sprinkled with the blood. And therefore the Torah commanded to also bring an Olah from a bird, which will be consumed on the Altar, instead of the part of the sacrifice of a sheep that is brought on the Altar.

This reasoning might lead us to think that the Olah of a bird can be brought at night, since it is a replacement for the "imurim," the part of the sacrifice of a sheep that is sent to the Altar. Since this can be put on the Altar at night, it is indeed necessary to find a special source to show that the Olah of a bird can only be brought during the day.

At the end of his discussion, the Or Samayach adds the following: "And I was very happy to have G-d lead me on the true path."

The author of Makor Baruch (Rabbi Baruch Epstein) discussed this special happy feeling. He once visited the author of Ohr Samayach (Rabbi Meir Simcha of Dvinsk), and he found him in a very happy mood. Rabbi Meir Simcha said that he had just discovered a wonderful Torah insight, and that afterwards he had fallen asleep. He had a dream, where he saw Torah giants of the past sitting in heaven and complaining that in today's world there is nobody who knows to determine the real truth of the Torah. And then the Rashba stood up and said that in the city of Dvinsk there is a Torah scholar who was closer to the truth of the Torah than he was himself, since the Rashba proposed to modify the text of the Talmud in order to reconcile the difficulty that he saw, while the Talmid Chacham gave a good response without any need to change the text.

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