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This week’s parshah continues the discussion of the halachos of korbanos. Before describing the halachos of a certain korban, the words often used in pesukim are “zos Toras hachatas, zos Toras ha’asham” (these are the laws of this korban).

Rabbi Yitzchak, in the Gemara (Menachos 110a), derives from these pesukim that anyone who learns about a korban from the Torah is considered to have actually sacrificed that korban. Similarly, the Gemara in Ta’anis 27b says that during the times of the Beis HaMikdash one would bring a korban to receive atonement. When there is no Beis HaMikdash, one can learn the halachos of korbanos and Hashem will consider the person to have brought that korban.

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The Tur (Orach Chaim 1) says that one should try to recite the parshiyos of the korbanos during the daytime, since that is when the korbanos were brought. He also says that after reciting the parshah of each korban one should recite a short prayer, asking Hashem to consider his recitation of the parshah as fulfillment of having brought the korban. (This tefillah is found in most siddurim.) The Tur, however, says that this tefillah should not be recited after reading the parshah of the korban chatas, since a korban chatas may not be brought as a nedavah (voluntary korban). The rest of the korbanos may be brought voluntarily; thus, even if one is not obligated to bring a korban, he can recite the parshah and the tefillah.

The Maharshal (Teshuvos 64) disagrees with the Tur; he personally says the tefillah after the parshah of the korban chatas. To facilitate the issue that the Tur raised – that the korban chatas may not be brought as a nedavah – the Maharshal suggests saying the following prior to reciting the tefillah: “If I am obligated to bring a korban chatas, let this reading be considered before You as if I have actually brought a korban chatas.”

The Taz (Orach Chaim 1:7) is dissatisfied with the Maharshal’s suggestion. He asks: since a chatas cannot be brought as a nedavah, how can one say that his recitation of the parshah should only be accepted as a chatas if he is obligated to bring one? That is, by definition a nedavah since if one is not obligated to bring a chatas the korban will be a voluntary korban.

The Pri Megadim (Mishbetzos Zahav to the Taz there) says that Acharonim have answered the Taz’s question by explaining that the Maharshal did not mean that if he was not obligated to bring a korban, the recitation should then be considered a korban chatas nedavah. The flip side of the recitation – if one is not obligated to bring a korban chatas – is that the recitation should not be considered as if he brought a korban; rather, it should just be as if he read a parshah in the Torah.

I think that another point must be clarified. If a korban chatas cannot be brought as a nedavah, how can one read the parshah of the korban chatas if he is not certain that he is obligated to bring one? Doesn’t the actual reading of the parshah render it as if he has brought the korban? The later tefillah does not transform it into a korban, as the Gemaras quoted earlier say that the learning of the parshiyos is considered as if one has brought the korban. The tefillah is merely a prayer that compliments the recitation of the parshah.

Additionally, the Magen Avraham says in the name of the Shalah that on Shabbos one should not recite the tefillah after the recitation of the parshiyos of the korbanos because a korban nedavah may not be brought on Shabbos. The Har Tzvi (Orach Chaim 1) asks this: If a korban nedavah may not be brought on Shabbos, how can we recite the parshiyos of the korbanos in the first place? Even without the recitation of the tefillah, the recitation of the parshiyos serves the purpose of one actually bringing a korban.

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Rabbi Fuchs learned in Yeshivas Toras Moshe, where he became a close talmid of Rav Michel Shurkin, shlit”a. While he was there he received semicha from Rav Zalman Nechemia Goldberg, shlit”a. He then learned in Mirrer Yeshiva in Brooklyn, and became a close talmid of Rav Shmuel Berenbaum, zt”l. Rabbi Fuchs received semicha from the Mirrer Yeshiva as well. After Rav Shmuel’s petira Rabbi Fuchs learned in Bais Hatalmud Kollel for six years. He is currently a Shoel Umaishiv in Yeshivas Beis Meir in Lakewood, and a Torah editor and weekly columnist at The Jewish Press.