In this week’s parshah, as Bnei Yisrael are about to enter Eretz Yisrael, the Torah commands us in the mitzvah of shechitah.
The pasuk says, “…Vezavachta mibikarcha u’mitzonicha asher nasan Hashem l’cha ka’asher tzi’vi’sicha…” – You shall shecht from your cattle that Hashem has given to you, just as I have commanded you (Devarim 12:21). The question is: Where were we previously commanded regarding the halachos of shechitah? The Torah does not reveal where a prior commandment appears regarding this issue.
Rashi quotes the Gemara in Chullin 28a that explains that the pasuk is referring to the halacha l’Moshe mi’Sinai, where Hashem taught Moshe the halachos of shechitah. Rashi, on the Gemara, adds that the pasuk cannot be referring to any other place in Chumash that the Torah commanded us regarding the halachos of shechitah, since the Torah never discussed it anywhere else.
The Ramban, on this pasuk, quotes a Sifri that says that the Torah is telling us that for the halachos of shechitah on a chullin animal (a non-korban) we should refer to the halachos of korbanos. That is the meaning of the words ka’asher tzi’vi’sicha – as I have commanded you. Just as korbanos require shechitah, so too chullin, or non-korban animals, require shechitah.
The question arises as to why the Gemara in Chullin did not explain the pasuk as referring to korbanos – as the Sifri did. It seems more logical that a pasuk would reference another pasuk rather than a halacha l’Moshe mi’Sinai. Similarly, why did Rashi say that the Torah never discussed the halachos of shechitah when the Torah discussed it at length in Sefer Vayikra regarding korbanos?
Apparently, we must conclude that the Gemara felt that we cannot learn the halachos of shechitah of a chullin animal from the halachos of shechitah of a korban. Although the two processes resemble one another, they are different; therefore, the Torah did not reference the shechitah of korbanos to that of a chullin animal. The Sifri, however, learns that the shechitah that one performs on a korban is the same shechitah that one must perform on a chullin animal.
In summation, there seems to be a machlokes between the Gemara and the Sifri whether we can derive halchos of mundane processes from avodas that are kodesh.
More broadly, applying kedusha to the mundane is relevant to every aspect of our lives. We live in a materialistic world, yet we are challenged with bringing kedusha into our lives. We are supposed to live in this world with all of its physical aspects and challenges and infuse the physical with keduasha.
We are told of an interesting dialogue that took place at the building of the Mishkan. Moshe Rabbenu wanted to build the vessels for the Mishkan before the actual Mishkan. Betzallel countered, that the derech haolam – normal way of the world – is to first build a house and then attain furniture. Why are we building the furniture before the structure that will house them? Moshe turned to Hashem who said that Betzallel was correct: the Mishkan should be built first.
The obvious question is what was Moshe Rabbenu thinking? Why did he want to build the vessels, the furniture, before the Mishkan, the house?
My Rebbe, Rav Shmuel Berenbaum, zt”l, the Mirrer rosh yeshiva, said that Moshe knew that the derech haolam was to build the house before the furniture. However, he felt that since we are building the Mishkan Hashem, a spiritual house, we should do the exact opposite of what the ways of this material world does. Kedusha has nothing to do with chullin – with mundane processes.
Hashem answered that He wants His spiritual house to be built using the physical processes of this world. By using the materialistic aspects of this world properly and for the right things, we have the ability to elevate them into spiritual items.
The same applied to the mirrors of the kiyor. The women brought the mirrors that they had used in Metztrayim to beautify themselves and attract their husbands. Moshe Rabbenu felt that such an item did not belong in the Mishkan Hashem. However, Hashem answered that since they used these physical items for a holy use with the correct intentions they elevated them to a spiritual level and they most definitely should be used in the Mishkan Hashem.
The Kutzker Rebbe is quoted as explaining the pasuk in parshas Mishpatim that says “anshei kodesh tiyu li” – Hashem wants holy people, not holy malachim! Our job is not to be a malach; rather it is to be a human being that utilizes our mundane bodily needs to elevate our spiritual nishamos to reach higher levels of kedusha.
Getting married is also something that people in this world mistakenly consider mundane and physical. However, the truth is when we get married we perform kedushin and transform the entire process into one of kedusha, which is the foundation upon which a couple builds their home and life. In fact, when a Jewish couple gets married they have the most potential to bring kedusha into their lives as the Gemara says, ish v’isha shalom beineihem, Shechina shruya beineihem – when a husband and wife have peace between them, the Divine spirit rests among them.