Nahar U'Pashtei Parshas Tzav
Are We Really Free?
In Parshas Tzav we are introduced to various ways that a korban can be rendered unfit. The elevated sanctity of these offerings comes with an exact script to follow, and even a slight deviation can passul the korban. In the context of the Shelamim, a peace-offering meant to express and celebrate one’s connection with his Creator, we are told of such things as eating a korban after its prescribed time limit (nossar), having in mind to perform the service of the offering past this time (piggul), eating a korban that became impure (tamei), or eating of sacrificial meat when one is himself impure. What is interesting, then, is to understand why the Torah chose the Shelamim, of all offerings, to discuss these laws. Surely, it does make a lot of sense to discuss any law having to do with time in the context of a Shelamim, for a Shelamim has the longest permissible time period in which it may be consumed, and the Torah seeks to clarify how these pessulim depend on this longer time period, and not on the times given other offerings. This can explain why piggul and nossar are discussed as pertaining to a Shelamim. But why are the laws of impurity also taught to us in the context of the Shelamim? Perhaps it is because one who brings a peace-offering often will bring along his friends or relatives to share in his offering. He makes a big to-do about his korban, and prepares for it as such. He will likely announce that he is making a large and festive meal to celebrate his thanks to Hashem. After perhaps an arduous journey, he and his party arrive in the Beis HaMikdash! If the offering or its owner would suddenly become impure, this would ruin his entire event. This is similar to what we might imagine could happen in a kitchen when a dignitary is waiting to be served in the dining room. Should something go awry, the pressure of the situation can cause the waiters to forgo policies and health concerns - the overarching goal of getting the food on the plate for the VIP might cause kitchen staff to employ short cuts, or worse. When a person plans his trip to Yerushalayim for months, only to happen upon a dead sheretz that renders him tamei, he might perhaps feel enormous pressure to look the other way, out of sheer embarrassment! And if the offering itself becomes tamei, this is even worse! Now there will be no offering at all - what will everyone at the party eat! This kind of pressure makes people do things they would never imagine doing. This is why we find the laws of tumah in the context of Shelamim - to warn a person not to fall into these sorts of traps, which are created by the pressures of society. This is our avdus, the servitude we still suffer today. Freedom means to not only be free to do as we please, but to be free to do it for the reasons we please. Society has built up such strong social pressures that a person can live his entire life never having done a mitzvah for the sole reason that he chose to do so! People do everything because that is what is done by other people around them, without a conscious decision to act a certain way because it is what Hashem desires. And this is discussing our positive behavior! This is a terrible avdus, to be slaves to social pressure. It is, in the arena of our choices, just like being in a real house of slavery! We must break free of our slavery and set our standards and priorities based on true Torah morals and the guidance of Daas Torah. We must not let the pressures of society play a role in our lives and how we choose to live. And if we do so, and we come to fulfill the Torah for its true sake, perhaps we will merit to see the ultimate Geulah speedily in our days. A gut Shabbos and Yom Tov! A Project of the YSI Alumni Association Written by R’ Moshe Weiss