Tehillim 119:35

Wednesday, March 21, 2018 · Posted in , , , ,

Tehillim 119:35
הַדְרִיכֵנִי בִּנְתִיב מִצְוֺתֶיךָ כִּי-בוֹ חָפָצְתִּי
hadricheni bintiv mitzvoteiha ki vo chafatzti
Guide me in the path of Your commandments; for that is my desire.

Because man has been given the freedom to choose the good, David Hamelech pleads, "Guide me in the path of Your commandments." I have chosen the good path, but I ask for Your help, "for that is my desire." Help me by removing the obstructions.

Here David Hamelech speaks about the commandments, while earlier he spoke about the Torah (119:34). According to Chazal, Torah study saves one from the yetzer hara (evil inclination), but observance of the mitzvot does not have the power to save one from the yetzer hara.

Accordingly, when speaking about Torah learning, David Hamelech said, "Grant me understanding, that I may keep Your Torah," and so will "observe it with all my heart" without further help. But here he speaks of the mitzvot, and thus asks for guidance and help. "Guide me in the path of Your commandments; for that is my desire." Since that is his desire, his desire will be fulfilled. For one who comes to be purified is helped.

- Me'am Lo'ez

Parashat Tzav

Parashat Tzav
VaYikra 6:1 - 8:36
Shabbat HaGadol
Parashat Summary

Terumat haDeshen - Kohanim are to collect the Altar's ashes
They are told to keep the fire on the Altar burning continuously
. Aharon, Kohen HaGadol is instructed to bring a meal-offering each morning and evening
Limitations on the consumption of meat are delineated
The ordination of Aharon and his sons as Kohanim 
The preparation of the Mishkan as a Holy Place

The portion of Tzav begins with the words, "Command Aharon and his sons" (6:2), because the mitzvot of this parsha are specifically addressed to the Kohanim.

Chizkuni explains that while the mitzvot concerning sacrifices enumerated in parashat Vayikra pertain to the nation as a whole, Tzav mainly discusses those mitzvot which remain the realm of the Kohanim. This is specified by the introductory phrase of Parashat Tzav.

In the previous portion, Parashat VaYikra, the Torah described the sacrifices that were brought for various sins and other reasons.  Now the Torah describes how each individual sacrifice was prepared, from start to finish. (Rashbam; Yalkut Reuveni; Pesikta)

The Olah - Burnt Offering
6:1 Vayedaber HASHEM el-Moshe lemor
And HASHEM spoke to Moshe, saying,
2 Tzav et-Aharon ve'et-banav lemor zot torat ha'olah hi ha'olah al mokedah al-hamizbeach kol-halailah ad-haboker ve'esh hamizbeach tukad bo
Command Aharon and his sons, saying, This is the Torah of the burnt offering. The burnt offering shall remain on the Altar's hearth all night until morning, so that the Altar's fires can be ignited with it.
The Torah says, "This is the Torah [law] of the burnt offering..." The Torah here is speaking of the daily tamid offering which was brought in the afternoon.  This tamid was a burnt offering (Shemot 29:38-42).

The Torah therefore continues, "It is a burnt offering." it is as if to say, "Do not think that this law applies to every type of olah (burnt offering).  It only applies to the olah that was the tamid offering brought in the afternoon."

The Torah then continues, "It shall be burned all night until morning."  This teaches that we should not think that the day follows the night where sacrifices are concerned.  The afternoon sacrifice is not burned the same day that it is offered.  The sacrifice was slaughtered on one day and it was burned on the Altar another day.  Do not think that this is incorrect.  It may be burned all night, until morning, even though this is a different day. (Abarbanel)

The Torah literally says, "This is the law of the olah.  It is the olah." There is another teaching in the Torah's repetition of the words "It is the olah." We have written in the previous portion that the main reason that G-d commanded us to bring sacrifice was not because He needs our sacrifices, but so that a person should meditate on the laws and rules involving the sacrifices.  The sacrifice must be slaughtered, cut to pieces, skinned and then burned.  If one meditates on this, he will realize that this should have been done to him because of his sins.  But G-d has mercy on him, and commanded him to bring a sacrifice to take his place, a soul for a soul.  When he sees this, his heart will become contrite, and he will repent.

Alluding to this the Torah says, "This is the law of the olah.  It is the olah."  This can also be translated, "This is the law of the olah.  He is the olah."  The "he" in this verse denotes the person bringing the sacrifice.  This teaches that the main purpose of the olah sacrifice is that the person bringing it should feel as if he himself is the sacrifice.  This will make his heart contrite, and cause him to repent. (Kli Chemdah).

The phrase, "it is the olah" also teaches another lesson.  The olah is the most important of all the sacrifices. Some sacrifices are eaten by the owners and some by the kohanim.  The olah, however, is completely burned on the Altar in G-d's honor.  The Torah therefore says, "It is the olah," showing that of all the sacrifices, the olah has the highest status. (Rashi; Bachya; Sifetei Kohen)

The olah has another importance; it atones for evil thoughts. (Ibid.; Toledot Yitzchak)  This is also alluded to in the verse, "This is the law of the olah.  It is the olah."  The word "olah" means "rising," indicating that the olah atones for evil thoughts that rise in a person's heart.

G-d therefore commanded that the olah be burned all night to atone for such sins committed at night.  The main time that a person has evil thoughts is at night when he lies on his bed.  It is thus written, "Woe to them who devise iniquity and work evil on their beds.  When the morning dawns they are executed" (Mikah 2:1).  He is saying, "Woe to those who have evil thoughts at night; in the morning they will bring these thoughts to fruition." (VaYikra Rabbah; Zohar, Kli Chemdah; Bachya; Toledot Yitzchak)

Here there is also good advice and a lesson to those who must wrestle with the Evil Inclination, which places bad thoughts in their hearts.  The remedy for this is Torah, when one must wrestle with it to understand its meaning.  Similarly, fasting can burn all the evil thoughts that are in a person's mind and purify it of all sin.  The Torah therefore says, "This is the Torah of the olah.  It is the olah on the hearth on the Altar."  It is speaking of the Torah with which one struggles, and the fat and blood that are burned on the Altar of a fast.  These purify one from his thoughts and his sins. (Sifetei Kohen)

The Torah teaches us that when a person studies the laws of the olah it is considered as if he had literally brought an olah.  The Torah thus says, "This is the Torah of the olah.  It is the olah."  One who studies what the Torah says about the olah is counted as if he had actually brought an olah sacrifice. (Baal HaTurim; Kli Yekar)

Terumat Hadeshen - The Mitzvah to Take a Handful of Ashes from the Altar

6:3 Velavash hakohen mido vad umichnesei-vad yilbash al-besaro veherim et-hadeshen asher tochal ha'esh et-ha'olah al-hamizbeach vesamo etzel hamizbeach
The Kohen shall dress in his linen garment and he shall wear linen pants on his skin; and he shall separate the ashes when the fire consumes the burnt-offering on the altar and place it next to the altar.
The kohen puts on the four normal vestments of a common kohen.  These are:
  1. linen tunic
  2. linen pants
  3. cap
  4. belt
He then removes the coals upon which the parts of the tamid offering were burned.  These would burn all night until they were totally reduced to ashes.  These ashes that were removed would then be placed near the Altar. (Ramban; Abarbanel; Rashi; Sifra; Yalkut Shemoni)

One of the parts of the Divine Service done every day was lifting up the ashes or the ash offering (terumat ha-deshen).  This consisted of lifting up a fire pan of coals each day from the parts of the tamid offering that had been burned.

This service is mandated by a positive commandment in the Torah.  It was done at dawn.  The kohen who won the privilege of doing this by lot would immerse himself and then put on medium quality vestments.  These were not the precious vestments with which even the common kohen would perform the service.  He would then wash his hands from the washstand (kiyor).  This is called "sanctifying the hands and feet" (kidush yadaim ve-raglaim).

The kohen would then take a silver fire pan which was kept between the ramp and the Altar, toward the west of the ramp.  With this fire pan he would climb up to the top of the Altar and push the burning coals to the side.  He would then take coals which were almost completely reduced to ashes from the center. (Yad, Temidim2)

This service is known as terumat ha-deshen which literally means, "the lifting up of the fatty ashes."  It is not known as terumat gechalim, or "lifting up of burning coals."  This indicates that the coals that he removes from the Altar must be those that have almost been reduced to pure ash. (Kesef Mishneh ibid.  Tzedah LaDerech)

After filling the fire pan, the kohen goes down from the Altar to the floor and turns to the north.  He then walks along the floor ten cubits (15 feet) to the east of the ramp.  Here he empties out the coals on the floor, approximately three handbreadths (nine inches) from the ramp.

One of the miracles that occurred in the Holy Temple was that these ashes that were deposited from the Altar on this spot would be swallowed up into the floor immediately. No trace of them would remain. (Baal HaTurim; Tosafot, Yoma, Chapter 1, p. 21)

The Torah does not say that the kohen removing the ashes must wear all four of his regular vestments. The only two vestments mentioned are the tunic (referred to as mido) and the pants.  However, the kohen must actually wear all four vestments since the terumat ha-deshen was one of the Divine services in the Temple and no service could be performed without all four necessary vestments.

The Torah only mentions these two to teach us a lesson about them.  The first lesson is that the tunic must fit the kohen.  It cannot be too long nor too short.  The Torah therefore calls it mido, not "the tunic" (ketonet).  The word "mido" is related to "midah" which denotes measure.  This teaches that it must be in his precise measure.

The second lesson that is taught here is that the pants must be worn next to the kohen's skin; there cannot be any other garment between the pants and his skin.  The Torah thus says, "He sahll place the linen pants on his body." (Ramban; Rashi; Abarbanel)

The Torah teaches these two lessons here and not earlier in Tetzaveh, where the other laws regarding the priestly vestments are discussed, because the kohen could make an error here.  He might say, "It is better that I wear a short tunic for this service so that I will not soil it with the ashes."  He might also think that it is preferable to wear something under the pants so that his body will not become soiled by the ashes.  The Torah therefore emphasizes these laws here, teaching that even if there is a good reason to change the vestments this may not be done. (Abarbanel)

We thus see that during the service of removing the ashes (terumat ha-deshen), since it touched upon G-d's honor, even though it was a lowly type of service, the kohen was mandated to wear his priestly vestments.  This must then be all the more true of the worship service, which is meant to take the place of the sacrifices themselves.  One must prepare and dress as nicely as possible and not merely worship however one happens to be. (Bachya)

Another lesson that we can learn from the terumat ha-deshen is that a person should not say, "It is not proper for me to do a lowly deed," if such a deed has something to do with G-d.  A person must make his heart contrite and humble before G-d, and not be proud.  He must realize that his own honor is like absolutely nothing compared to G-d's honor.

King David said, "Wake up, my glory, wake up the harp and lyre.  I will awaken the morning" (Tehillim 57:9).  King David was speaking to his own honor, saying, "Do not think that, because of my royal greatness, you have any importance compared with G-d's honor.  That is not so.  Wake up, my honor, in the morning, to serve G-d."

We also find that King David danced and skipped in front of the Holy Aron in honor of G-d and did not care at all about his honor (2Shmuel 6:14)

We also find that Hillel and Rabban Gamaliel, who were the greatest of the sages, nevertheless danced in the Holy Temple at the celebration of drawing (simhat beit ha-sho'evah) (Parashat Emor)

Also, the Leviim, who had the highest status among the Benei Yisrael, were chosen by G-d to drive the wagons that carried the Mishkan and the furniture when the Benei Yisrael moved from one place to another in the desert.  The work they did was that of a common teamster or driver, which is not considered work of very high status.

From all this we see that any service that touches upon G-d's honor, even though it might seem very lowly, should be done without thinking of one's own honor.  A person should not say, "It is beneath my dignity to do this." (Ibid.; Reshit Chochma, Shaar HaYirah 15)

If a person overlooks his own dignity to honor G-d, in the end his own status will be raised and so will that of the Divine.  But if a person is not concerned with the honor of the Divine because he does not wish to lower his own status, in the end G-d's honor will remain in place, but the person's status will be reduced. (Yoma, p. 23)

6:4 Ufashat et-begadav velavash begadim acherim vehotzi et-hadeshen el-michutz lamachaneh el-makom tahor
He shall then take off his vestments, and put on other garments.  He shall then take the ashes to a ritually clean place outside the camp.
Here the Torah tells us that when the ashes increase on the Altar to such an extent that there is no longer any room on top of the Altar to place the sacrifices, these ashes must be removed. They are taken out of the three camps:

  1. the camp of the Divine
  2. the camp of the Leviim
  3. the camp of the Benei Yisrael
In later times this meant outside of the city of Yerushalayim.  They were then to be deposited in a ritually clean place.

This was not a daily obligation like the terumat ha-deshen.  This was only done when there were too many ashes on the Altar. (Rashi).

The Torah also tells us that when the kohen wishes to remove the ashes and bring them outside the camp he must take off the vestments with which he performed the terumat ha-deshen, since these were more costly vestments.  He would then put on the least expensive priestly vestments to take the ashes outside the city.

Every single task performed in the Beit Hamikdash, even one like removing ashes which might be looked upon as menial, was performed by a Kohen rather than by a non-Kohen. In the Beit Hamikdash, the Almighty's palace, there was no room for arrogance; even the greatest person had to feel humble in the presence of the Almighty.

6:5 Veha'esh al-hamizbeach tukad-bo lo tichbeh uvi'er aleiha hakohen etzim baboker baboker ve'arach aleiha ha'olah vehiktir aleiha chelvei hashlamim
The fire on the Altar shall be ignited with [the remainder of the offerings].  Each morning, the kohen shall kindle wood on them.  On [this wood] he shall then arrange burnt offerings and burn the choice parts of the peace offerings.
This teaches us another lesson.  The kohen should not light the wood elsewhere and then bring it to the Altar when it is burning.  He must first place the wood on the Altar and then ignite it.

The Torah therefore says, "The fire on the Altar shall be ignited with it.  It shall not be extinguished, and the kohen shall burn wood on it..." The Torah is speaking about the fire mentioned earlier which burned all night. This fire must be lit on the Altar.  The wood must first be arranged on the Altar and then ignited.

The kohen then places the part of the tamid burnt offering on the wood to burn them on the Altar. (Sifra; Ralbag)

The kohen must be careful that when he burns the parts of the afternoon tamid offering that all the other sacrifices offered that day have already been placed on the Altar to burn.  The last sacrifice to be placed on the Altar each day was the afternoon tamid.  When the tamid is placed on the Altar nothing from any of the other sacrifices that must be burned on the Altar should remain.  The tamid must be the one that completes (mashlim) all the sacrifices.

The Torah therefore ends, "He shall burn upon it the fat of the shelamim."  The word shelamim here does not have its usual connotation of peach offerings.  Since the Torah was not speaking about shelamim at all, it would not speak of "the shelamim" with the definite article, which would indicate that they had already been mentioned.  The world shelamim here means that this is the offering that completes (mashlim) the service of the day on the Altar.

We therefore say in the morning prayer, "With [the afternoon tamid] all the sacrifices are complete."

This indicates that the kohen must be careful that all the sacrifices of the day be completed before the afternoon tamid is offered.  This tamid is therefore the last of all the daily sacrifices. (Sifra; Korban Aharon; Rashi)

The Mitzvah to Maintain a Constant Fire on the Altar

6:6 Esh tamid tukad al-hamizbeach lo tichbeh
Thus, there shall be a constant fire kept burning on the Altar, without being extinguished.
The fire on the Altar must burn at all times without being extinguished even for a second.  The Torah says,"It shall be ignited continuously on the Altar." This is a positive commandment.

Two fires were lit each day on the Altar.  They are called "ma'arachot" (arrangements).

One of these was the "great arrangement" (ma'aracha gedolah).  A large pile of wood, was set upon the east side of the Altar. On this largest pile all the sacrifices were burnt.

In addition, a smaller flame was ignited to the side of the "great arrangement."  A different pile of wood was stacked in the southwest corner of that Altar. This was called the "ma'aracha sheniyah" (second arrangement).  From this fire, coals were brought before the incense Altar to burn the incense

There was also a third fire to keep the Altar lighted.  It could be set up on any part of the Altar. This was to fulfill G-d's commandment, "A constant fire shall be lit on the Altar.  It shall not be extinguished" - for even one second. It had to burn throughout the Shabbat and even while the Benei Yisrael were traveling. It burnt uninterruptedly for over a hundred years - forty years in the Wilderness, fourteen years in the Mishkan of Gilgal, and fifty-seven years in the Mishkanot of Nov and Givon.

It was a mitzvah to add two pieces of wood to the ma'aracha gedolah twice a day, when the olah sacrifice of the morning and that of the afternoon were offered.

In this chapter these three fires are alluded to:

  1. "On the hearth on the Altar" (6:2)
  2. "the fire of the Altar shall be ignited by it" (6:2)
  3. "and the fire on the Altar shall be ignited by it" (6:5)
When the Torah speaks of, "the hearth on the Altar" it is speaking of the great arrangement.

When the Torah says, "The fire of the Altar shall be ignited by it," it is speaking of the second arrangement used for the incense.

When the Torah says, "The fire on the Altar shall be ignited by it," it is speaking of the third fire, which is used to keep the Altar burning. (Yad, Temidim U'Mussafim 14; Rashi)

If the Menorah in the Temple is extinguished, it may not be relit from any fire except that of the outer Altar.

This is alluded to in the verse, "Constant fire shall be ignited on the Altar."  When the Torah speaks of "constant fire" it is alluding to the Menorah regarding which it is said, "to light fire constantly" (Shemot 27:20).  In both cases the word tamid is used for "continuous."  This teaches that the Menorah must be lit with fire from the sacrificial Altar and not from any other place. (Tamid, Chapter 6; Yad, Temidim 3; Yoma, p. 80; Rashi)

In truth, the addition of wood was unnecessary to maintain the fire, for a Heavenly fire constantly rested on the Altar. Nevertheless, Hashem commanded the Kohanim the mitzvah of maintaining the fire in order to bring blessing upon the Jewish people as a result of fulfilling the mitzvah.

The Heavenly fire which used ot rest upon the Exterior Altar distinguished itself by five characteristics:

  1. During the era of the First Beit Hamikdash, its shape resembled a lion; during the second, a dog. The Shechinah is described as a lion. The Heavenly fire assumed that form to indicate that the Shechinah resided in the First Beit Hamikdash. However, after its destruction, the Shechinah receded, and It was not present in the second Beit Hamikdash, due to the sins of K'lal Yisrael. This was hinted by the shape of the Heavenly fire in the second Temple resembling a dog, the animal which represents the epitome of impurity. (Ayin Yaakov)
  2. The Heavenly fire radiated overpowering brightness like sunlight.
  3. Its flames were substantial, not flimsy like that of ordinary fire. Water, therefore, could not extinguish it. Although the Copper Altar was situated in the Courtyard under the open sky, the rains never extinguished it.
  4. It consumed not only dry matters but liquids too.
  5. It produced no smoke. However, the fire kindled by the Kohanim did cause smoke which rose up to the sky in a vertical pillar and was never diverted by the winds. 
There were further wonders to be noted in relation to the fire on the Exterior Altar:

  • The intense heat which it constantly radiated did not melt the copper covering of the Altar (a miracle similar to that of the burning thorn bush which was not consumed).
  • The Kohanim's feet were not injured by the heat, although they walked on the Altar barefoot.

The Minchah - Meal Offering / Minchat Chinuch - The Initiation Offering of Every Kohen

6:7 Vezot torat haminchah hakrev otah b'nei-Aharon lifnei HASHEM el-penei hamizbeach
This is the Torah of the meal-offering.  The sons of Aharon bring it before HASHEM, to the front of the altar.
This teaches that all minchah offerings require oil and frankincense (2:1).  Therefore, just as when Benei Yisrael brings a minchah offering he must place oil and frankincense on it, similarly, when a kohen brings a minchah he must place oil and frankincense on it.  Even though the offering of a kohen is completely burned, and none of it is eaten, it still must contain the oil and frankincense.

Furthermore, when a minchah is offered, it must be brought to the southwest corner of the Altar.  The Torah literally says, "Aharon's sons shall bring it before G-d to the 'face' of the Altar."

Whenever the Torah says "before G-d," this denotes the west, because the Shechinah (Divine Presence) is said to be to the west.

When the Torah speaks of "the face of the Altar" it is speaking of the south of the Altar.  This is where the ramp was, and hence the entrance to the Altar; therefore the south is called the "face of the Altar."  The minchah should be offered on the southwest coring.  This place is both "before G-d" and "to the face of the Altar." (Rashi; Sifra)

6:12 Vayedaber HASHEM el-Moshe lemor
And HASHEM spoke to Moshe, saying:
13 Zeh korban Aharon uvanav asher-yakrivu l'HASHEM beyom himashach oto asirit ha'efah solet minchah tamid machatzitah baboker umachatzitah ba'arev
"This is the offering of Aharon and his sons that they shall offer to HASHEM on the day that he is anointed; one tenth of an efa of fine flour as a meal-offering, always [daily].  Half of it [he shall offer] in the morning and half of it [he shall offer] in the evening.
14 Al-machavat bashemen te'aseh murbechet tevi'enah tufinei minchat pitim takriv re'ach-nichoach l'HASHEM
In a frying pan, with oil it shall be made; you shall bring it saturated, well-baked, a meal-offering of broken pieces, you shall bring a pleasing fragrance to HASHEM.
15 Vehakohen hamashiach tachtav mibanav ya'aseh otah chok-olam l'HASHEM kalil toktar
The Kohen who is anointed in his stead from among his sons, he shall [also] do it; an everlasting statute to HASHEM, it shall be entirely burnt.
The reasons that G-d commanded the Kohen Gadol and the common Kohen to bring this offering:

  1. All Yisrael depends on the Kohen Gadol to pray to G-d that He forgive their sins.  In order that he be able to pray for others, the Kohen Gadol himself must be free of sin.  However, "there is no person righteous in the land who does not sin" (Kohelet 7:20).  Therefore, G-d commanded that the Kohen Gadol bring a special sacrifice each day to be cleansed of sin. 
  2. The second reason is that all the people should learn a lesson from the Kohen Gadol and bring sacrifices for their sins.  If the Kohen Gadol, who is the greatest among his brethren, brings a sacrifice every day, other people will also feel motivated to bring sacrifices for their sins.
  3. People might refrain from bringing sacrifices so others should not know of their misdeeds.  However, when they see the Kohen Gadol bringing a sacrifice each day without being ashamed, they will also not be ashamed and will bring theirs.
  4. 'The poor will not be ashamed to bring a minchah as an offering even though it consists of mere meal which is very inexpensive.  When they see that the Kohen Gadol brings a sacrifice no more valuable than this, they will feel better about bringing their own.
  5. The Kohen Gadol should be contrite and humble before G-d and not become proud; thus, his daily offering is exactly the same as that of the poorest of the poor.
  6. The kohanim eat the minchah offerings of the Benei Yisrael, not to fill their bellies, but to fulfill G-d's commandment that these portions be eaten. We see this from the kohen's offering which must be completely burned on the Altar.
  7. Since the kohanim scoop out the minchah offerings and eat the rest, they can come to error and scoop out less than necessary.  This would be considered stealing from the Altar and eating it.  G-d commanded that a minchah offering be brought each day to atone for this error.
  8. G-d commanded that each day two types of sacrifices be brought, the individual sacrifice and the communal sacrifices.  The communal sacrifices brought each day were the two daily tamid sacrifices.  The individual offering was the minchah of the Kohen Gadol.
  9. Aharon was involved in the sin of the Golden Calf and this sin still has its effects.  There is no trouble that comes to the world that is not in some related to the sin of the Golden Calf.  Therefore, the Torah mandated that the Kohen Gadol who serves in Aharon's place must bring a sacrifice each day to protect the Benei Yisrael from the effects of the sin of the Golden Calf.  G-d does not punish the Benei Yisrael for this sin all at once, but little by little.  Therefore, G-d commanded that this minchah not be offered all at once but half in the morning and half in the evening. (Abarbanel)  The Torah thus says, "This (zeh) is the sacrifice of Aharon."  The word "this" alludes to the fact that this sacrifice atones for a sin where Aharon said, "this".  Aharon had told Moshe, "I threw [the gold] in the fire and out came this (zeh) calf" (Shemot 32:24).  The Hebrew word "zeh" has numerical value of twelve.  This teaches that even though its value is very little, this minchah offering is as precious to G-d as all Twelve Tribes.

6:16 Vechol-minchat kohen kalil tiheyeh lo te'achel
Every meal-offering of a Kohen shall be completely burnt and may not be eaten.
G-d commanded that when a kohen brings a minchah offering it must be completely burned on the Altar and not eaten by the other kohanim.  It is not like a minchah brought by a common Yisraeli, where only a handful is scooped out to be burned on the Altar and the rest is eaten by the kohanim.

The reason for the difference between the minchah of a Kohen and that of a common Yisraeli is that a minchah is a very inexpensive offering containing merely one-tenth efah (two quarts) of wheat meal.  When a common Yiraeli brings it, even though the rest is eaten by the kohanim, it is still considered a sacrifice to G-d because even the portion eaten by the kohanim is part of the sacrifice.  If the commandment were that the kohen scoop out some and burn it and allow the rest to be eaten by his fellow kohanim nothing would remain for the Altar.  The kohanim are considered to be eating from the "table of the Divine."  Therefore, G-d commanded that if a kohen himself brings a minchah he may not eat of it but it must be completely burned on the Altar. (Moreh Nevuchim; Sifetei Kohen; Bachya; Imrei Noam)

Michat Chavitin - The High Priest's Daily Offering

Twice daily, the Kohen Gadol was obligated to offer a minchah called the "minchat chavitin," paid for from his own money. He brought half of it in the morning and the other half in the afternoon. He prepared it by mixing oil and flour, breaking the dough into pieces the size of a kezayit each, salting them, and burning them on the altar together with a handful of incense. No one was permitted to eat any part of his offering; it had to be burnt in its entirety.

Abarbanel suggests ten reasons to explain why the Kohen Gadol was required to offer daily a private korban, quoting four of them:

  1. Chazal teach, "First adorn yourself, then adorn others!" (Sanhedrin 18) Their dictum implies that a person should work on self-improvement before reproving others. Nevertheless, a person should not exempt himself from the mitzvah of reproving others because he feels that he is guilty of the same mistakes. (See Midrash Parashat Kedoshim, "The Mitzvah to Reprove Others") "Adorn yourself first," is an admonition to a Jew not to set his standards by what is "done by everyone else," or "generally accepted". Rather, it must be every individual's goal to elevate himself to the Torah's standards in every area of life, a goal which can be attained only by constant Torah study and seeking the instruction of Torah teachers. Everyone must set an example of proper conduct to others. Since it was the Kohen Gadol's task to attain forgiveness for the sins of the entire nation, it was only right that he should first be free of sin himself. He therefore offered a daily sacrifice to achieve atonement for his own transgressions.
  2. The Kohen Gadol's offering served as an encouragement to sinners to come forward and bring the required offering for their transgression. Upon observing that even the Kohen Gadol sought forgiveness by means of a sacrifice, they would admit their sins likewise and not hesitate because of embarrassment.
  3. The Kohen Gadol's minchah offering was the type usually brought by the poorest of the poor. It consisted solely of flour and oil. Hence, the pauper would not feel ashamed to offer his own lowly flour offering since it was identical to that brought by the Kohen Gadol.
  4. Hashem declared that He would not immediately punish the Jewish people for the Sin of the Golden Calf. Rather, He would scatter its aftereffects by administering punishment little by little throughout the generations. The Kohen Gadol was the successor of Aharon who had sinned in the incident of the Golden Calf. He had to offer a daily korban to protect K'lal Yisrael from the evil effects of that sin. (Abarbanel)

The Chatat - Sin Offering

6:17 Vayedaber HASHEM el-Moshe lemor
And HASHEM spoke to Moshe, saying:
18 Daber el-Aharon ve'el-banav lemor zot torat hachatat bimkom asher tishachet ha'olah tishachet hachatat lifnei HASHEM kodesh kodashim hi
"Speak to Aharon and his sons, saying: This is the Torah of the sin-offering.  In the place where the burnt-offering is slaughtered, before HASHEM; it is holy of holies.
The Torah tells us that the chatat (sin offering) is burned in the same place that the olah (burnt offering) was burned, that is, to the north of the enclosure, as the Torah earlier says, "He shall slaughter it to the side of the Altar to the north before G-d" (1:11).  The chatat must be slaughtered in this very same place, because it is holy of holies.

Furthermore, the chatat is slaughtered in the same place as the olah so the person bringing it will not be embarrassed.  He will not think, "People know that I have committed a sin because I am bringing a chatat offering." Because it is brought in the same place as the olah, people will assume that he is bringing an olah which is sacrificed to atone for sinful thoughts and not for actual sins. (Bachya; Sifetei Kohen)

6:19 Hakohen hamechate otah yochelenah bemakom kadosh te'achel bachatzar Ohel Mo'ed
The Kohen who offers it as a sin-offering, shall eat it.  It shall be eaten in a sacred place, in the Courtyard of the Tent of Meeting.
Actually, the Torah does not mean that only the kohen who offers it may eat it; rather, any kohen who is fit to offer such a sacrifice may eat it.

The chatat must be eaten in a holy place.  In the desert this was the enclosure around the Mishkan.  Later this would include the entire Temple area.

6:20 Kol asher-yiga bivsarah yikdash va'asher yizeh midamah al-habeged asher yizeh aleiha techabes bemakom kadosh
Any [food] touching [the sin offering] shall become sanctified.  If its blood splashes on any garment, it must be washed off in a sanctified area.
21 Uchli-cheres asher tevushal-bo yishaver ve'im-bichli nechoshet bushalah umorak veshutaf bamayim
Any clay pot in which it is cooked must be broken.  However, if it is cooked in a copper pot, [the pot] may be purged and rinsed with water.
22 Kol-zachar bakohanim yochal otah kodesh kodashim hi
[Although] it is holy of holies, any male priest may eat it.
23 Vechol-chatat asher yuva midamah el-Ohel Mo'ed lechaper bakodesh lo te'achel ba'esh tisaref
However, any sin offering whose blood is brought into the Tent of Meeting to make atonement in the sanctuary may not be eaten.  It must be burned in fire.
The Torah says that if any of the blood splashes on a garment, the garment must be washed inside the Mishkan's enclosure.  It is forbidden to take the bloodstained garment out of the sanctified area.

Furthermore, if a chatat is cooked in a clay pot, it is forbidden to cook anything else in it, even another chatat offering.  The taste of the meat becomes absorbed by the pot and after one day and one night, which is the time that a chatat may be eaten, this taste becomes "forbidden remainder" (notar).  Such notar is forbidden to be eaten under the direst penalties.  Therefore, if any other food is cooked in the pot, that food absorbs the taste from the pot and also becomes forbidden.  Such a pot cannot be remedied by scrubbing or purging with boiling water.  In the case of a clay pot, something absorbed cannot be removed.  The only remedy is to break the pot. (Rashi)

The pot must be broken in a sanctified area in the Mishkan's enclosure, not just anywhere. (Ralbag)

However, if the chatat is cooked in a copper or any other metal pot, the pot should be purged with boiling water.  Then we are permitted to cook other food in it.

One of the miracles in the Holy Temple was that the clay pots that were used for cooking the chatat and then broken were absorbed at their places into the Temple's floor and no trace of them would remain. (Zevachim; Yalkut Shimoni; Kli Yekar; Bachya; Sifetei Kohen)

Since the chatat was holy of holies it could be eaten only by male kohanim.  It could not be eaten by women.

If a chatat offering was brought into the Mishkan it would become invalid and it could not be burned on the Altar.  It would have to be burned in the courtyard as all other invalid sacrifices were.

The Asham - Guilt Offering

7:1 Vezot torat ha'asham kodesh kodashim hu
This is the Torah of the guilt-offering; it is holy of holies.
The asham is holy of holies.  This indicates that it has a high degree of sanctity like the olah (burnt offering) and the chatat (sin offering).  It is not of lesser sanctity like the shelamim (peace offerings).

G-d designated a special status for the chatat and asham and called them holy of holies, even though they were not completely burned on the Altar as the olah was.  This is because these sacrifices were brought for sin. G-d did not want a penitent to think that he was excommunicated and far from the level of the righteous because of his sins.  Instead, he was drawn close to G-d anew and was as dear to G-d as if he had never sinned, since he repented and made up his mind never to repeat his previous sins.

Since penitents know the taste of sin, they are actually on a higher level than the righteous.  Our sages thus teach, "In the place that a penitent stands even the perfectly righteous cannot stand."  The Talmud is speaking of the next world, Olam HaBah (The World to Come).  The penitent (ba'al teshuva) has the advantage that he knows the taste of sin and still keeps away from it.  The righteous, on the other hand, has never experienced sin.

In order to demonstrate the extra love that G-d shows the penitents, G-d refers to their sacrifices as being holy of holies just like the olah which is completely burned to G-d.

However, the shelamim (peace offerings) which are brought by the righteous who do not have any sins merely as a free-will offering, are called offerings of "minor sanctity" (kedashim kalim).

For the very same reason, the minchah offering is called "holy of holies."  G-d wants to show the poor that their sacrifice is important to G-d even though it has small monetary value. (Abarbanel)

7:2 Bimekom asher yishchatu et-ha'olah yishchatu et-ha'asham ve'et-damo yizrok al-hamizbe'ach saviv
In the place where they will slaughter the burnt-offering they shall slaughter the guilt-offering, and they shall sprinkle its blood on all sides of the altar.
The Torah alludes to the high status of the asham when it says that it must be slaughtered in the same place as the olah.  This shows that it has the same status as the olah, even though it is not completely burned on the Altar.

The blood of the asham is sprinkled on "all sides of the altar."  This means that it is dashed on two corners so that it reaches all four sides, as previously discussed.

7:3 Ve'et kol-chelbo yakriv mimenu et ha'alyah ve'et-hachelev hamechaseh et-hakerev
He shall bring all its fat from it; the [fat] tail, the fat covering the innards,
4 Ve'et shtei haklayot ve'et-hachelev asher aleihen asher al-haksalim ve'et-hayoteret al-hakaved al-haklayot yesirenah
the two kidneys and the fat on them that are on the flanks.  The lobe on the liver, he shall remove together with the kidneys.
5 Vehiktir otam hakohen hamizbechah ishe laHASHEM asham hu
The Kohen shall burn them on the altar, a fire-offering to HASHEM; it is a guilt-offering.
6 Kol-zachar bakohanim yochalenu bemakom kadosh yeachel kodesh kadashim hu
All males among the Kohanim may eat it.  It must be eaten in a sacred place; it is most holy.
All the choice parts, including the fat tail of a sheep or ram, are burned on the Altar.  In the case of an asham the same parts are burned on the Altar as in the case of a peace offering.

7:7 Kachatat ka'asham torah achat lahem hakohen asher yechaper-bo lo yihyeh
As the sin-offering is, so is the guilt-offering; one Torah applies to them both; the Kohen who will bring about atonement with it, it shall belong to him.
8 Vehakohen hamakriv et-olat ish or ha'olah asher hikriv lakohen lo yihyeh
The Kohen who brings a burnt-offering of an individual, the skin of the burnt-offering that he brought, shall belong to the Kohen, it shall belong to him.
Here, when the Torah speaks of "the kohen who offers it," it does not mean only the kohen who offers it; rather, the Torah is speaking of any kohen who is fit to offer it.  Thus, the portions of the chatat and the asham that are given to the kohanim are divided among all the kohanim who are fit to offer such sacrifices.  Similary, the skins of olah are divided among all the kohanim who are fit to sacrifice an olah.

7:9 Vechol-minchah asher te'afeh batanur vechol-na'asah vamarcheshet ve'al-machavat lakohen hamakriv otah lo tihyeh
[The unburnt portion of] any meal offering which is baked in an oven, pan-fried, or deep-fried, shall be given to the kohen who offers it. 10 Vechol-minchah velulah-vashemen vacharevah lechol-benei aharon tihyeh ish ke'achiv
Any meal offering, whether mixed with oil or dry, shall belong equally to Aharon and his descendants.
The Torah here is speaking of the various types of minchah offerings discussed earlier, including those baked in an oven (2:4) fired on a pan(2:5,6), and prepared in a deep pot (2:7).  All these minchah offerings belong to any kohen who is fit to offer them on the Altar.  The Torah therefore continues by saying that any minchah offering, whether mixed with oil or dry without oil (such as the minchah of a sinner and that of a suspected adultress - BaMidbar 5:15), are equally shared among all the kohanim serving at the time.  This includes all the kohanim of a certain family whose turn it is to serve in the Temple. (Sifra; Korban Aharon)

The kohanim who served in the Temple were divided into twenty-four watches.  Each watch (mishmeret) was further divided into six smaller divisions known as "paternal groups."  Each "paternal group" (beit av) served in the Temple one day each week.

It therefore comes out that each watch served for an entire week, so the twenty-four watches served for twenty-four weeks.

Here the Torah tells us that when a sacrifice or minchah is brought on a certain day it is not divided among all the kohanim of all twenty-four watches.  Nor does the kohen who brings the sacrifice or minchah take the entire thing for himself.  It is divided among all the kohanim whose turn it is to serve that day. (Ibid.; Yad, Klei HaMikdash 3)

The sacrifices could not be traded off against each other.  One kohen could not say, "You take Mr. A's sacrifice and I will take Mr. B's." They could not say, "You take Mr. A's animal sacrifice and I will take Mr. B's minchah."  Similarly, they did not have to divide each and every minchah offering.  Everything together was divided among each "paternal group."

The Torah thus says, "Every minchah, whether mixed with oil or dry, shall belong to all of Aharon's sons, each man is like his brother."  That means that each thing must be divided among them all. (Sifra; Yad, Maaseh HaKorbanot 10)

The Shelamim - Peace Offerings / Shalmei Todah - Thanksgiving Offering

7:11 Vezot torat zevach hashelamim asher yakriv laHASHEM
This is the Torah of the peace-offering that is sacrificed to HASHEM.
 Earlier we saw that G-d called sacrifices such as the olah, chatat and asham holy of holies.  Other sacrifices and offerings do not have this high status.  Nevertheless, G-d would rather have people not sin than sin and bring sacrifices.  Therefore, the most desirable sacrifice before G-d is the peace offering or shelamim which is not brought for any sin.  This is a sacrifice brought of one's free will, out of joy.

That is why it is called shelamim, which means peace offering.

The Torah says, "This is the law of the peace sacrifice which his offered to G-d."  The Torah does not say in the case of any other sacrifice that it is "offered to G-d."  This teaches that the sacrifice which is most desirable to G-d is the peace offering which is not brought for any sin.  The psalmist thus said, "Sacrifice a thanksgiving offering and honor Me" (Tehillim 50:14).  This indicates that a person who brings a thanks giving sacrifice, which is a type of peace offering, honors G-d because it is not brought for any sin.

The Torah therefore says, "If for thanksgiving he offers it" (7:12).  The wording is somewhat difficult here.  Why does the Torah repeat "He shall offer it," when it said earlier, "that he shall offer to G-d"?

The Torah's intent is that a person bring such a sacrifice to G-d to become close to Him. The word hikriv which is used to designate bringing a sacrifice, also means to be brought close.  Here it means not only is a sacrifice being offered to G-d, but the person bringing it is also being brought close.

If a person sins and brings a sacrifice, he does not deserve much credit for it, because he is bringing it for his own atonement.  However, shelamim are brought as free will offerings so that a person can show his love for G-d; such a person deserves G-d's love.

Therefore, the Torah uses the expression "yakrivenu" which literally means, "He shall bring [the sacrifice]." The subject of this sentence is G-d.  The verse indicates that G-d brings the person close and grants him honor because he brought a sacrifice without any obligation. (VaYikra Rabbah, Chapter 9, Yeffeh Toar ad loc.)

7:12Im al-todah yakrivenu vehikriv al-zevach hatodah chalot matzot belulot bashemen urekikei matzot meshuchim bashamen vesolet murbechet chalot belulot bashamen
If he brings it as thanksgiving-offering he shall bring along wih his thanksgiving-offering matzah loaves mixed with oil, matzah wafers anointed with oil and loaves of saturated fine flour mixed with oil.
The Torah now tells us that there are different types of peace offerings, or shelamim.

Now the Torah is talking about the thanksgiving offering, or todah.  The todah is brought when a person wishes to bring a peace offering as thanksgiving to G-d for some miracle that He may have done for him.

A Jew was required to offer a Shalmei Todah - Thanksgiving Offering if he found himself in any one of the following situations:

  1. He had been liberated from prison.
  2. He had recovered from a serious illness.
  3. He returned from a sea voyage.
  4. He had traveled in the desert and arrived back safely.
These four categories are hinted at in Tehillim 107 (as explained there by Rashi). Hodu LaHashem, for types of people are obligated to thank Hashem, those who...

  • "wandered in the wilderness" (107:4)
  • "sat in darkness and in the shadow of death, bound in affliction and iron" a reference to prisoners (107:10)
  • "were afflicted on account of their sinful way" denoting those who were stricken with illness (107:17
  • "those that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great waters" (107:23)
Now days, if someone survived one of the four above mentioned critical situations, he recites a special blessing of thanks, Birkat Hagomel, in place of the Shalmei Todah.

It is thus written, "Give thanks to G-d for His love and His miracles to the sons of man.  Let them offer a thansgiving sacrifice..." (Tehillim 107:21, 22).  The psalmist is telling us that after one has had any of the miracles mentioned in the psalm happen to him, he must give thanks to G-d for the miracle.  He must also bring a todah offering, which is a type of peace offering.  (Rashi)

When a person brings such a sacrifice, he must bring one efah (twenty quarts) of wheat meal.  Out of this efah, he must first make ten leavened loaves.  From the rest of it he must make thirty unleavened loaves.  These are made in three different ways:

  1. Ten of these loaves are baked in an oven.  He takes the meal and mixes it with oil and then kneads it with lukewarm water.  He then makes ten flat loaves out of it and bakes them in the oven.
  2. The next ten loaves are baked into simple flat matzahs and then saturated with oil.  He makes them by kneading plain wheat meal with lukewarm water and then baking them as flat cakes in the oven.  They are rubbed with oil until they are totally saturated.
  3. The last ten are made of boiled meal kneaded with oil.  Here the kohen takes the meal and kneads it and then cooks it well in boiling water.  Then he makes ten loaves and bakes them in the oven.  He places them in a pan (machavat) and fries them in oil. (Yad, Maaseh HaKobanot 9)

7:13 Al-chalot lechem chametz yakriv karbano al-zevach todat shelamav
With loaves of leavened bread he shall bring his offering, along with his peace-offering of thanksgiving.
This is the manner in which the todah or thanksgiving offering is offered:

The sacrifice is slaughtered any place in the Temple court (azarah).  The blood is then dashed on two corners of the Altar so that it reaches all sides.

The animal is then skinned and the fats are taken out. The the chest of the animal is removed along the right leg.

Then one loaf of each type is taken; all this is placed on the hands of the person bringing the sacrifice.  The kohen places his hands under the hands of the person bringing the sacrifice and they wave it in the prescribed manner.

One reason that the offering is waved in four directions is to hold back the evil, poisonous winds that come from the four directions.  It is also waved up and down to hold back the evil rain and dews that descend.

This waving in all directions (tenufah) symbolically expressed a Jew's belief that the Almighty is cognizant of and actively guides the lives of all mankind. (Abarbanel)

From here we see how beloved the ritual of tenufah is.  It is considered an adornment to a commandment (she'urei mitzvah) and not a main part of the commandment.  Nevertheless, it has the power to hold back troubles.  If one keeps a commandment itself, how much more will he be protected from all evil; how much good will he gain both in this world and the next! (Rashi; Menachot, Chapter 1)

After the tenufah, the fat and other choice parts are burned on the Altar.

Chazal taught, "All sacrifices will become void in the era of Mashiach. There is one exception - the offering of Thanksgiving will never become void." Similarly, they taught, "All tefillot will be abolished in the future except for those of thanksgiving." (Abarbanel)

How are these statements to be understood?

In Mashiach's time, all mankind will be free of sin. Therefore, all the sacrifices which atone for the sins of individuals will become obsolete. (But the communal sacrifices will certainly continue to be offered.)

Similarly, all tefillot (prayers) which relate to pain and suffering will be abolished since in that era there will no longer be any pain. In their stead, we will recite prayers of thanks and jubilation.

7:14 Vehikriv mimenu echad mikol-karban terumah laHASHEM lakohen hazorek et-dam hashelamim lo yihyeh
He shall present some of each [of the four bread] offerings as an elevated offering to HASHEM. This shall belong to the kohen who sprinkles the blood of the peace offering.
The kohen who presents the offering received the chest, the leg and the four loaves.  The rest of the loaves and the meat of the animal can be eaten by the one who brings it.

7:15 Uvesar zevach todat shelamav beyom karbano ye'achel lo-yaniach mimenu ad-boker
The flesh of his thanksgiving offering must be eaten on the day it is offered.  He shall not leave over any of it until morning.
The time that the todah offering can be eaten is the day it is slaughtered and that night until midnight.  None of it may be left until the following day.

7:16 Ve'im-neder o nedavah zevach karbano beyom hakerivo et-zivcho ye'achel umimachorat vehanotar mimenu ye'achel
[However], if one's sacrifice offering is meant [merely] to fulfill a general vow or a specific pledge, he shall heat it on the same day that he offers his sacrifice, but what is left over may also be eaten on the next day.
17 Vehanotar mibsar hazavach bayom hashelishi ba'esh yisaref
[Nevertheless], what is left over from the sacrifice's flesh on the third day must be burned in fire.
18 Ve'im he'achol ye'achel mibsar-zevach shelamav bayom hashelishi lo yeratzeh hamakriv oto lo yechashev lo pigul yihyeh vehanefesh haochelet mimenu avonah tisa
If it will be eaten, of the flesh of the peace-offering on the third day, it will not be favorably accepted.  [As to] whoever brings it, it will not be credited to him; it is an abomination and anyone who eats of it shall bear [the burden of] its iniquity.
If a person brings a sacrifice as a free-will offering and not because of a miracle that happened to him, he need not bring the loaves mentioned earlier; he must only bring the sacrifice itself.

The time for eating it is not the same as that of the todah offering.  He may eat the sacrifice on the day that it is slaughtered and on the next day - that is, two days and a night.  He may eat it the day it is offered, that entire night, and the rest he can eat on the next day and that night.

However, that which is left over on the third day is called leftover (notar) and must be burned in fire.

The Torah says, "If one eats the flesh of his peace offering on the third day..." This is speaking of a case where at the time he slaughtered it he had in mind to eat it on the third day.  At that moment, the sacrifice became invalid and it was considered putrid or piggul. To eat it, then, even at the proper time, was considered a sin. (Rashi)

19 Vehabasar asher-yiga bechol-tame lo ye'achel ba'esh yisaref vehabasar kol-tahor yochal basar
The flesh [of offerings] that will touch any unclean [thing] may not be eaten; it shall be burned in fire.  [As to] the [pure] flesh, every [ritually] pure person may eat [the] meat.
20 Vehanefesh asher-tochal basar mizevach hashelamim asher laHASHEM vetumato alav venichr'tah hanefesh hahiv me'ameiha
The person who eats of the flesh of the peace-offering belonging to HASHEM while his uncleanness is yet on him, that person's soul shall be cut off from its people.
21 Venefesh ki-tiga bechol-tame betumat adam o bivhemah teme'ah o bechal-sheketz tame veachal mibsar-zevach hashelamim asher laHASHEM venichr'tah hanefesh hahiv me'ameiha
A person who touches anything unclean, be it the impurities of man or an unclean animal, or any unclean creeping creature and then eats some flesh of the peace-offering belonging to HASHEM, that person's soul shall be cut off from its people." If the meat of a peace offering touches anything unclean, it may not be eaten and must be burned in fire.

The meat of the peace offerings may only be eaten by people who are ritually pure.  If someone who is ritually unclean eats it, he incurs a penalty of excision (karet) or "being cut off" spiritually.

Chelev - We May Not Eat the Forbidden Fat of an Animal

7:22 Vayedaber HASHEM el-Moshe lemor
And Hashem spoke to Moshe, saying:
23 Daber el-benei Yisrael lemor kol-chelev shor vechesev vaez lo tochelu
Speak to the Children of Yisrael, saying: Any fat of oxen, sheep or goats you must not eat.
This section is not considered a separate chapter.  The Torah has not yet completed the laws of the shelamim offering.  After the Torah speaks about forbidden fats (chelev) it returns to the laws of the shelamim offering. This section dealing with forbidden fats interrupts the narrative but is not considered to be a separate chapter. a mnemonic for this is, "Their fat is closed in" (Tehillim 17:10).

The reason that the Torah interrupts the chapter dealing with shelamim to discuss forbidden fats is to teach us that these fats are forbidden because fat and blood are the portions offered to G-d on the Altar.  It is not fitting that a human being eat something that is burned on the Altar. (Sifetei Kohen.  Cf. Abarbanel)

The removal of the forbidden fat is termed nikkur.

7:24 Vechelev nevelah vechelev terefah ye'aseh lechol-melachah veachol lo tochluhu
[Even if] an animal is improperly slaughtered or fatally wounded, you may use its hard fat for any purpose you desire, as long as you do not eat it.
25 Ki kol-ochel chelev min-habehemah asher yakriv mimenah isheh laHASHEM venichr'tah hanefesh haochelet me'ameiha
But anyone who eats the hard fat offered to G-d in any animal shall have his soul cut off from his people.
The Torah specifies that the fat of an animal which was not properly slaughtered (nevelah) or that has a fatal lesion (terefah) is forbidden.   The entire reason that certain fats known as chelev are forbidden is because this fat is offered to G-d.  Therefore one might think that if he eats chelev from a nevelah or terefah, it would not constitute the violation of eating chelev, because such an animal could not be offered as a sacrifice.  One might think that the Torah only forbids chelev of an animal which can be a sacrifice.  Therefore the Torah says, "The chelev of a nevelah and the chelev of a terefah can be used for any work, but you may not eat it." (Ramban)

Therefore, if a person eats the chelev of a nevelah or a terefah he incurs two violations, one of eating nevelah or terefah, which are forbidden in their own right, and one for eating chelev. (Sifetei Kohen; Yad, Maachalot Assurot 7).

The Torah specifies that chelev is forbidden only in the case of three animals; an ox, a sheep and a goat.  This teaches that the prohibition against eating chelev only applies to a ritually clean or intrinsically kosher animal; only then does one incur a penalty for eating chelev.  However, if one eats chelev from an intrinsically non-kosher animal, he is only guilty of a violation for eating the flesh of an unclean animal. There is no violation for eating the chelev.

If one eats the chelev of an intrinsically kosher animal purposely, he incurs the penalty of karet.

The Prohibition of Blood

7:26 Vechol-dam lo tochlu bechol mo'oshvoteichem laof velabhemah
Do not eat any blood, whether from a mammal or a bird, no matter where you may live.
27 Kol-nefesh asher-tochal kol-dam venichr'tah hanefesh hahiv me'ameiha
Any person who eats blood, that soul shall be cut off from its people.
Here the Torah tells us that it is forbidden to consume blood. Both the blood of a bird and the blood of a mammal are forbidden and if one consumes them he incurs the penalty of karet.

The prohibition against eating blood is very serious, and one who eats it incurs the penalty of karet, being spiritually "cut off" and dying prematurely.

We thus see that the prohibition against consuming blood is mentioned in the Torah seven times. This is to indicate how serious it is. When a prohibition is particularly serious, the Torah repeats it a number of times.

Just as the punishment for eating blood is very serious, so the reward for refraining from eating it is great. Logically, it might not seem that there should be much reward for avoiding blood since this is not something for which a person has a strong desire. The Evil Inclination does not wrestle with a person to impel him to eat blood; indeed, many people find it disgusting.

Nevertheless, a person's reward is so great that even his children receive benefits. It is thus written, "Do not eat [blood] so that it will be good for you and your children after you." (Devarim 12:25)

From this a person can understand how great is the reward of keeping other commandments. The commandment of avoiding blood is among the very easiest and there are very few temptations; nevertheless, the reward is great. How much greater is the reward for avoiding sexual misconduct and other sins for which a person has much desire and where one must wrestle with his passions. If a person avoids such sins his reward is all the greater since he must fight against his desires.

There are four reasons that G-d commanded us to avoid blood:

  1. The portions of the animal offered on the altar were the fat and the blood. The fat was burned on the Altar and the blood was dashed against the Altar's sides. Since this is a portion that belongs to the Altar, G-d commanded that it not be eaten. 
  2. The blood is the "soul" as it is written, "For the blood is the soul." (Devarim 12:23) G-d only permitted us to consume the body, not the soul. G-d commanded Adam that he not eat any living creature, only vegetables and plants. However, since Noach saved all life from destruction, G-d permitted him to eat flesh. The soul remains forbidden and since the blood pertains to the soul, the essence of life, it too is forbidden. 
  3. The life of the body depends on the blood. Therefore, if a person eats blood, his body becomes like that of an animal. He becomes coarse and insensitive like an animal. He may take on the bad traits of an animal and not have pity on his fellow human beings. G-d gave us the Torah to purify our souls so that we would be able to understand the mysteries of the Torah and so that we would have mercy on our fellow man. It is therefore forbidden to eat the blood of an animal. Eating an animal's flesh is not the same as eating its blood. Flesh is digested and does not remain in the body, but blood contains many hormones and other chemicals which are not digested and are absorbed by the body as they are. (Bachya, Acharei Mot, quoting Ramban)
  4. When the Benei Yisrael left Egypt they were immersed in the occult practices of the Egyptians. To gather demons (shedim), they would fill a bowl with blood and demons would congregate around the blood. When they wanted to tell the future, they would drink some of this blood. Therefore, the commandment not to eat blood comes in juxtaposition to that of, "Do not practice divination." (19:26) The Torah is saying, "Do not eat blood and do not practice divination like the gentiles." Since G-d wanted to separate us from the false pagan practices, He prohibited the blood. We may not eat the blood; we must sprinkle it on the Altar to atone for our sins. (Ibid., quoting Moreh Nevuchim)

Forbidden and Permitted Blood

This is the place to discuss all the laws of blood. We will begin by discussing which blood is forbidden and which blood is permitted so that a person will not become involved in a violation. 

The Torah forbids the blood of every animal and bird, whether kosher or non-kosher. 

The blood of an aborted fetus is also forbidden. 

The blood of fish and kosher locusts is permitted. Today we do not know which locusts are permitted and which are forbidden, so we do not eat any locusts whatsoever. 

Any blood found in eggs is forbidden. Therefore, if any blood is discovered in an egg, whether in the yolk or the white, the entire egg is forbidden. Even if the blood is removed, the rest of the egg may not be eaten. 

If eggs are beaten in a dish and mixed together, and then blood is found in one of them, all the eggs are forbidden. This is true even if the yolk containing the blood is removed before it is mixed with the other eggs. Since the whites of the eggs are mixed together, all are forbidden. However, if one is mixing eggs in a dish and the yolks are not mixed together but each one is alone, one can remove the yolks that do not have blood one by one and place them in another dish. He should then leave the egg having the blood in the first dish with the whites of all the eggs. The yolks that have been moved to the second dish are then permitted. However, it is forbidden to do the opposite, throwing away the egg that has the blood and leaving the other eggs. As we said earlier, it is impossible that the white of the eggs not mix together to some degree. Therefore it can only be done as above. 

All the laws that we have discussed are only true if the eggs have been mixed in a cold dish which is not on the fire. However, if one opens the eggs in a dish that is over the fire, the laws are different and one must ask a rabbi what to do. (Yoreh Deah 66)

We are permitted to eat hard-boiled or baked eggs even though it is impossible to examine them to see if they have blood. This is because the majority of eggs do not have blood in them. We can depend on the majority of cases and assume that any particular egg does not have blood. Nevertheless, if one wants to beat eggs and mix them in a recipe or fry them, it is better to examine them first. This is the custom today and this is the proper way of Judaism. 

We said earlier that it is permissible to consume the blood of fish. However, this is only true if the blood is with the fish. If the blood is strained and placed in a dish alone, we are forbidden to consume it because of appearances (mar'it ayin). Somebody seeing a person drinking this blood may assume that it is the blood of a mammal or a bird, which is forbidden. If it is obvious that it is fish blood in that it contains some scales, it is permitted. 

Human blood by itself is also forbidden because of appearances. Therefore, if a person bites bread and blood from his gums is absorbed by the bread, one should not eat any of the blood-stained bread but must remove it. However, if one's gums are bleeding, it is permissible to suck out the blood; there is no prohibition. 

Salting Meat

We will now discuss the laws of salting (melichah). Meat must be salted to remove any forbidden blood that may still be in the meat. Blood cannot be removed from meat, except by proper salting and washing. 

The process of salting is as follows: 

Before salting the meat, it should be placed in a vessel full of water and allowed to remain there approximately one half-hour. If one does not soak the meat but merely washes it well, it is sufficient. However, it is best actually to soak it initially. There are three reasons that the meat initially should be soaked:

  1. To soften the meat so that the blood can be drawn out. 
  2. Salt can only remove the blood inside the meat since it is still moist. The blood on the surface of the meat is dry and the salt cannot remove it. Therefore, the meat should be soaked so that the salt will also be able to remove the blood near the surface. 
  3. Some say that the reason for soaking the meat is to remove the surface blood. If this is not done, the salt absorbs the surface blood and cannot draw out the blood that is below the surface. 
It is customary not to use the vessel used to soak meat before salting for other purposes. The same is true of the one used to rinse it after salting. No food should be placed in these vessels. However, if the vessel is used even for hot foods, the food does not become forbidden. If one forgot and left the meat soaking in that vessel for twenty-four hours, both the vessel and the soaked meat become forbidden. If a person cooks any food in that vessel, the food also becomes forbidden. 

After the meat is soaked for approximately one half-hour, it is removed from the water. Then one should wait a few moments until the water drips off before salting it. If the meat is too wet, the salt will dissolve very quickly when the meat is salted and it will not draw out the blood. 

One must also be careful not to wait too long before salting the meat. If the meat becomes totally dry, the salt will not dissolve at all and will not draw out any blood. One should wait a short time until the water drips off the meat and then salt it. 

If, after soaking the meat, one cuts it into smaller pieces, he must soak it or wash it off again. The same is true if he soaks an animal's feet and then removes the hooves. If he does not do this, it is as if the meat was not rinsed off at all. 

If one salts the meat without washing it, the remedy is to wash off the meat and soak it again. 

This remedy helps even if the salt was originally left on for the usual time. However, if one does not soak the meat and re-salt it, it may not be cooked; it can only be eaten roasted over an open flame. 

There are some authorities that maintain that in such a case, if the meat has been salted without having been soaked, there is no remedy and it cannot be washed off and re-salted. According to this opinion the meat becomes forbidden. 

Therefore, one should depend on the lenient opinion only if it is a case where one would incur great loss or if it is right before the Sabbath or a festival when it is very difficult to find other food. Even then, the lenient opinion is valid only if the meat has been soaked and salted a second time. 

 The Salt

The salt used in kashering meat may not be too coarse nor too fine.

If it is too fine, it is absorbed by the meat and does not draw out the blood. If it is too coarse, it will fall off the meat. Therefore, it must be salt of medium texture.

If one has very coarse salt, he should crush it somewhat until it is the proper consistency.

If one only has very fine salt and cannot find any other, he may use it. However, after the salting, he must wash off the meat very well in a perforated vessel so that all the salt sticking to the surface of the meat is removed. If the meat is soaked in an un-perforated vessel, there is concern that it may reabsorb the salt along with the blood that was absorbed and the meat will then be forbidden. It must be washed off in a perforated vessel so that the salt will be removed and will not remain in the vessel.

Furthermore, if one is using salt that is too fine, he should be careful that all the water from the initial soaking has dripped off the meat before salting it. He should be careful not to salt it too quickly after it is removed from the water. If the meat is very wet, the fine salt will dissolve and will not have the power to draw out any blood. Enough salt must be placed on the meat so that it is impossible to eat the meat because of the salt. Every piece should be salted on all sides so that no area on the surface of the meat will be without salt.

If a piece of meat is big and thick, it need not be cut open to salt it on the inside. It is sufficient to salt it very well on all sides.

A fowl should be salted on the inside as well as the outside. If a fowl is only salted on one side, or if the inside is not salted, the bird is rendered forbidden by the salting.

If one has salted a bird only on one side or only on the outside, he can still salt the other side so long as the salt has not yet been washed off. If the salt has been removed and washed off, the bird may not be salted again. The only remedy is to eat it roasted. It is forbidden to cook it.

If the meat is still salted and, before the necessary time is up, it is cut in half, the cut place must be washed off and salted. However, if the meat has been salted for the prescribed time, it is not necessary to re-salt that area.

The Salting Process

The salt must remain on the meat long enough for a person to walk one mile, that is 2000 steps. This is approximately twenty minutes.

A mnemonic for this is, "You shall salt it with the salt (ba-melach).(VaYikra 2:13) The numerical value of ba-melach is 80, the same numerical value for mil, the Hebrew word for mile. (Kenesset HaGedolah)

Today, the proper practice is not to remove the salt from the meat until a full hour has elapsed. It is preferable to salt the meat in a perforated vessel known as a trepito so that the blood removed by the salt will run out and not remain in the vessel. One must be careful that the holes remain open and do not become stopped up.

One should not place the perforated vessel on the ground since the earth can plug up the holes and it would be as if one had salted in an un-perforated vessel. Therefore, the custom is to place the trepito on top of a vessel that is not considered kosher or on top of some wood so that it is elevated above the ground.

If one does not have a perforated vessel, he should place the meat on an inclined surface so that if water were poured there it would flow down. Thus, when blood is drawn out from the meat, it will run down.

If one salted meat in an un-perforated vessel or on a straight board, there is concern that the blood will remain under the meat and not be poured out. If the meat remains in this salt for the length of time needed for a kettle placed on the fire to begin to boil, the law is that the layer of meat in contact with the salt is forbidden even if it is roasted. The upper side of the meat, which did not come in contact with the juice, however, is permitted and it goes without saying that those piled on top of it are permitted.

If the meat was already taken out of the salt in such a situation and it is not known which part touched the liquid or which was on top or which was on the bottom, the entire piece of meat is forbidden.

If one salted meat in a vessel that was not perforated, the vessel itself becomes non-kosher, and it cannot be used for any hot foods.

If dry hot food is placed in such a vessel, one must cut off the surface layer. If the food was cooked in it with juice, then the food must have sixty times the volume of the entire surface of the vessel.

According to some authorities, it is forbidden even to place cold foods in this vessel. If cold food is placed in it, it must be rinsed off.

The perforated vessel upon which meat is salted may not be used with any hot food. However, if one inadvertently used it for hot food, the food does not become forbidden. Since it was in a perforated vessel, it may be eaten if the vessel is made of metal. However, if it was a clay vessel and was used for hot food, the food is forbidden even if it was already done.

If the meat is soaked in sea water and remains there for the prescribed time for salting, the meat does not become forbidden. This is true despite the fact that since the salty water has the status of salt, it may be considered as if the meat had been salted in an un-perforated vessel. However, sea water does not have the power to draw out blood from the flesh so it is of no concern. Therefore, the meat should be salted later, according to the law.

Removing the Salt

After the salt is on the meat for an hour, one should shake it all off. He should then hold the meat in his hand and pour water on it so that the salt will be washed off well. He then puts water in a vessel, places the meat in the vessel, washes it off well, and removes the meat from the vessel.

The vessel should also be emptied of the water and dried off well. Then one should place water in the vessel a second time and wash off the meat a second time.

Now the usual custom is for people to first shake off the salt well and then fill a vessel with water. The meat is then placed in the water and it is washed off well. Then the meat is held in the hand and water is put over it three times. This is the preferred method.

If one forgot to wash the meat off after salting it and placed it over the fire to cook it without having washed the meat, the flesh is forbidden as food. The pot is also forbidden and must be purged in the proper manner.

However, if the food has sixty times the volume of the salt and blood that was on the meat, it is "annulled in sixty" (batul be-shishim), and everything is permitted.

If the sauce ("metzk" in Turkish) or juice in the vessel has the same volume as the piece of meat that was placed in it without having the salt washed off, then we do not have to estimate whether or not there was sixty times the volume of salt and blood. It can be assumed that there certainly was sixty times as much. The piece of meat itself certainly contains thirty times the volume of its blood and salt. Together with the thirty times for the food in the pot, it can be assumed that there is certainly sixty times as much food as the blood and salt. Therefore, everything is permitted.

We have said that meat cooked without having its salt washed off is forbidden. This is true not only if it is cooked in a pot, but even if it is roasted. The meat is still forbidden.

This meat is only forbidden if the salt has not been washed off at all. However, if after taking the meat out of the salt, it was rinsed off once and not three times as we have discussed, and it is then cooked, since it is too late to do otherwise, it is not forbidden.

Various Laws

If salt has been used once for salting, it may not be used a second time. The salt itself becomes forbidden because of the blood it has absorbed. It goes without saying that the salt may not be used as food for the very same reason.

A person cannot depend on his servants to salt the meat. If he does so, he must certainly be eating non-kosher food since they are not to be trusted. However, he may allow them to salt the meat if a Jew is overseeing them and watching how they salt it.

Suppose a gentile is a servant in a Jewish house. After the owner placed the meat on the fire to cook, he asked the gentile whether or not he washed the salt off the meat. If the servant said that he did, the law is as follows: If the gentile knows the Jewish custom that the meat must be washed off after being salted, it is permissible to rely on his word if he is in a place where Jews are going in and out or if there is a child present who understands what is happening. We then say that since he knows the Jewish custom, he is certainly telling the truth because he is concerned about those who come and go and whether they saw him wash it.

However, if all these conditions do not pertain, even if the gentile in the course of normal conversation (mesi'ach le-fi tum-o) appears to have actually washed it, he may not be trusted and the meat is forbidden.

If meat is frozen in the winter and it is as hard as wood, it may not be salted. One must wait until it thaws out and becomes as soft as it usually is.

If time is pressing such as on Friday afternoon or if there are guests and one wishes to cook it quickly, he can place the meat in warm water to thaw it rapidly. However, the water must not be so hot that the hand cannot stand it. Furthermore, it must be in a "second vessel" (k'li sheni). A "second vessel" exists when water is boiled in one vessel and then poured into a second. The meat may be placed in the second vessel as long as the water is not too hot to touch.

However, the meat may not be placed in a "first vessel" (k'li rishon) that is on the fire. A "first vessel" can cook; therefore there is concern that the meat might become cooked with its blood, and salting will no longer be a remedy.

It is also wrong if one places the meat in a vessel and then pours over it water from a first vessel. The law is that water poured out of a first vessel has the same status as water in a first vessel. Therefore, one must do as we have said.

If, when the meat was salted, it was not too cold, but it froze during the hour that the salt was on it and while still frozen it was removed from the salt, it is best to salt it again after it thaws. If, while it was still in the salt, it thawed and after it thawed it remained for the proper salting time, one does not have to salt it a second time; this salting is sufficient.

Unsalted Meat

If meat was cooked without being salted, it is forbidden. If all the food in the pot, that is, meat, juice and other food, contained sixty times the volume of the piece that was not salted, then it is all permitted since there is sixty times as much.

If meat stood three days without being salted--that is, seventy-two hours--the blood in it becomes dry and the salt no longer has the power to remove it.

In such a case, even if the meat is placed in lukewarm water, it does not help. It is forbidden to cook this food. It may not be eaten unless it is roasted. It should not be cooked after it is roasted, but if this has already been done, it is permitted.

Meat should not be kept three days with the intention of roasting it because one might forget and cook it.

When we said that meat that has stood three days cannot be salted, this is only true if it was not soaked in water during those three days. If it was soaked in water during those three days, it can be kept for another three days, less one half-hour, and it can be cooked.

If meat was left three days without salting and was then salted and remained in the salt for the necessary time and was then washed and roasted, the meat may then be cooked.

There are some who say that it is even initially permitted to salt it, allow it to remain in the salt for the necessary time and then wash it, roast it and cook it.

If it is right before the Sabbath or a festival and one has no meat other than this meat which stood three days without salting, one may cook it after roasting it, in honor of the Sabbath. This is true even if it was not in the salt for the necessary salting time before being roasted.

Let us consider another case. Meat stood three days without being salted but someone did not realize it. This person then roasted it and placed it in a pot to cook. However, after the water was boiling and was too hot for the hand to tolerate, he remembered that the meat had stood three days without being salted and cooking it was forbidden. He removed it from the fire. That meat is forbidden as food. Also the pot in which it was cooked is forbidden and it must be properly purged.

If meat was salted and it is not known whether it was salted within the three days, or if the three days had already elapsed since it was slaughtered, it is permitted to cook that meat. This is because there is a question.

If the third day comes out on the Shabbat, it is forbidden to soak the meat on the Shabbat so that it not become forbidden. It is forbidden even to have a gentile soak it. There is a question, however, as to whether it is permissible to soak meat on a festival so that it can be cooked after the festival is over.

Rabbi Moshe Benveneste was asked this question by the butchers. They had meat left over from before Pesach and they wanted to keep it so that they would be able to sell it on the intermediate days (chol ha-moed). That year the first day of Pesach came out on a Thursday. If they did not soak the meat on the festival, three days would pass without its being salted from the time it was slaughtered: Thursday, Friday and the Shabbat, and then it would be impossible to cook the meat. It would also not be good for roasting since the remaining meat was cooking meat and not roasting meat.

It was also impossible to place it in water right before the Pesach and let it remain in water the first night until morning. It is true that then it would not stand three days without salt until Sunday. However, if it was left to remain soaking so long, the meat would spoil. They therefore asked the rabbi if it was permitted to soak the meat on the holiday.

The rabbi permitted it on the condition that the butchers eat an olive-sized piece of the meat on the holiday itself. Also, they had to draw the water before the holiday and not make the effort of drawing it on the holiday itself.

Nevertheless, in a case like this, if one forgets to draw the water before the festival, he is permitted to draw it on the festival.

In such a case, the best time to soak the meat is on the second day of the festival.

If meat has not been salted and still has its blood, and one forgets and leaves it soaking for twenty-four hours, the meat is considered to have been cooked. The law is that pickling is the same as cooking. This also means that something soaked for twenty-four hours has the same status as something cooked.

It is therefore forbidden to eat this meat even if it is roasted. Since it was not salted, it is as if it was cooked with its blood. If the water in which it soaked, however, had sixty times the volume of the meat, it is permissible to eat the meat if it is properly salted afterward.

If meat is soaked and then it freezes and becomes one block with the water, and one forgets it and leaves it frozen like that for twenty-four hours, the meat does not become forbidden with the law that "pickling is like cooking." Ice does not have the same legal status as water. Something that is placed in ice for twenty-four hours is not considered cooked. Therefore, one can remove the meat and wait until it thaws out and then salt it and eat it cooked.

However, if the meat remains frozen for three full days, it is considered as if it had remained three days without salt. In such a case, the meat may not be eaten unless it is roasted over an open flame.

As we have said, "preserving is like cooking." Therefore, meat that has remained soaking twenty-four hours in water may not even be eaten roasted. This is true only of ordinary meat. However, if a liver is inadvertently left soaking in water for twenty-four hours, even though the water does not have sixty times the volume of the liver, the liver does not become forbidden and one can roast it over an open flame and eat it.

This is only true if one has done this inadvertently, allowing it to soak for twenty-four hours. Initially it is forbidden to leave it in water for such a long time on purpose.

If liver stands three full days without being soaked, it has the same status as meat and it is forbidden to cook it even after it has been roasted. It must be eaten roasted over an open flame.

After the meat is salted properly and washed off, we are permitted to place it in a pot to cook it. This is true even if the water is not boiling. However, it is better to wait until the water boils and then to place the meat in it. This is because one of the authorities maintains that meat should only be placed in water that is already boiling.

If one wants to preserve meat with salt making it into a type of delicatessen ("pastodma" in Turkish) so that it will keep a long time and not spoil, it should first be salted in a perforated vessel and allowed to remain in the salt for an hour. Then it should be washed off very well. After this, one can salt it in any vessel he wishes; it does not have to be a perforated vessel. Once it has been salted, all its blood has been removed.

If there is no salt available, the remedy is to roast the meat until it is half roasted. At this point, all the blood has run out of it, and one may cook it.

If meat has been salted and allowed to remain in the salt for many hours, the law is as follows:

Until twelve hours there is nothing wrong if it remained longer than the necessary hour in the salt. There is no concern that after the hour the blood ran out and then was reabsorbed by the meat.

It is true that in the first hour all the blood runs out of the meat.

However, for twelve hours juice still flows out of the meat. As long as the meat is discharging this juice, it does not absorb. Therefore, after twelve hours one should not leave the salt on the meat. The meat has then discharged all its blood and other juices. It can then start absorbing the blood in the salt and it becomes forbidden.

Some authorities maintain that the meat can be allowed to remain in the salt even for several days and we are not concerned that the meat will absorb the blood.

Since there is a dispute regarding this, it is well not to let the salt remain on the meat more than twelve hours. If one forgot and left the salt on the meat more than twelve hours, he is permitted to rely on the opinion that allows this and the meat may be eaten.

Sometimes meat is salted late Friday afternoon so that it will last until Sunday. If one forgot to wash off the salt, the law is that it is forbidden to wash off the salt on the Sabbath even through a gentile. Therefore, the salt shall be allowed to remain on the meat until Saturday night and then it should be washed off. The meat may then be eaten.

According to what we said earlier, that it takes twelve hours for all the blood and juice in the meat to be discharged, we are still permitted to salt many pieces of meat together, one on top of the other. We are not concerned that the blood from the meat on the bottom will be discharged before that of the meat on top and that it will therefore absorb blood from the meat on top. This is because the blood itself runs out in one hour, as mentioned earlier, but it takes twelve hours for all the rest of the juice to be discharged. Since the meat is still discharging the juice, it does not absorb the blood. Therefore, meat can be piled up while it is being salted.

This is only true if it involves meat together with meat. Thus, calf meat may be salted together with beef or goat meat. It is also permitted to salt beef and chicken together.

However, it is forbidden to salt any meat or chicken together with fish because fish discharges its blood and juices much faster than meat does. Therefore, there is concern that the fish will absorb the meat's blood.

If meat and fish are salted together, the fish may not be eaten until the top layer is removed. The meat, however, is permitted.

If the fish has not been scaled, it takes as long to discharge its juices as does other meat.

When we said that the top layer of the fish must be removed, this is only true if both the meat and the fish have been salted together or if the meat has been salted and not the fish, but one was placed on top of the other or next to the other. However, if only the fish was salted and the meat next to it was without salt, the top layer of the fish need not be removed. Since the meat has not been salted, the fish does not absorb anything from it.

If kosher meat and non-kosher meat are salted and placed next to each other where they can touch, the law is that the non-kosher meat renders the top layer of the kosher meat forbidden. Therefore, this top layer must be removed before the meat can be eaten.

True, we said earlier that it is permitted to salt two pieces together and we are not concerned with absorption since the meat is still discharging blood and juice, but this is true only with regard to blood.

The taste of the meat can be absorbed even though the meat is discharging juices since taste is absorbed more readily. This is true if both of them have been salted together, or if they were not salted together, but only the non-kosher meat was salted and it came in contact with the kosher meat. If only the kosher meat was salted, and it was placed next to the non-kosher meat which was not salted, and the two touched, one does not have to remove the top layer from the kosher meat. In such a case it is sufficient to rinse it off. It does not make any difference if the kosher meat was on top or on the bottom.

We have said that it is sufficient in such a situation merely to cut away the top layer of meat. This, however, is only true if both pieces of meat were lean and therefore do not absorb. However, if one of the pieces of meat was fatty, even if it was the kosher piece of meat that was fatty and the non-kosher lean, the fat causes the forbidden substance to be absorbed by the kosher meat. In such a case it makes no difference whether the non-kosher was on top or on the bottom. The kosher meat still becomes forbidden.

The Head

Earlier we said that even if a piece of meat is fat and thick it does not have to be cut in half to be salted; it is sufficient if it is salted on all sides. However, this is not true of the head. If the head is closed, it does not help to salt it on all sides. This is because the brain is enclosed in the skull like a shell, and there is also a membrane covering the brain so that the blood of the brain cannot run out. It is very much like meat salted in a non-perforated vessel. Therefore, if it is salted in such a manner, the brain is forbidden.

True, the law is that if a bone has marrow in it, it does not have to be split open to be salted; the blood runs out even if the bone is closed around it on all sides. One may therefore inquire as to why the head must be opened up.

The two are not the same. Blood in the bones is like loose blood. Therefore, when it is salted on the outside, the salt draws out the blood. However, the blood in the brain's membrane is enclosed in blood vessels. It is not drawn out when the outside of the head is salted.

Therefore, the head must be split in half and salted on the inside so that the blood is discharged. Then it is salted on the outside. The salt may be placed on the hair; this does not prevent the blood from being discharged.

If one wishes to leave the head closed, he must do the following: He must make a hole through the skull opposite the brain, being careful also to perforate the brain's membrane. He can then salt it. However, one must be careful that the hole be on the bottom so that the blood can run out of it.

If one perforated the skull but not the membrane that surrounds the brain, it is of no avail even though the hole is placed downward. In such a case, one must perforate the membrane and then salt the head again.

If one cooked the head without perforating the brain's membrane, it is permissible to eat the brain. It can be safely assumed that the brain contains sixty times the volume of the blood in the membrane and it is "annulled in sixty."

If one salted the head while it was whole, perforating neither the skull nor the membrane, then the bone and the brain are forbidden. The rest of the meat on the head, however, is permitted.

If one salted the head and cooked it without perforating the skull and membrane, everything in the pot is forbidden if it does not have sixty times the volume of the brain and the bone of the skull. However, if all the other food in the pot has sixty times this volume, it is permitted.

If one does not want to cook the head but wishes to roast it over an open fire without perforating the skull, it must be roasted in such a manner that it hangs in the oven. The place where the animal's throat was slit, that is, the cut on the neck, must be downward so that the blood can run from there while it is being roasted.

However, if one wishes to perforate the skull, he can place it in the oven with the brain downward, since the blood can run out of the hole.

Even if one has only perforated the skull and not the membrane, it is sufficient. The fire has the power to draw the blood out of that membrane.

If the skull was not perforated and it was not roasted in such a way that the gullet pointed down, but was pointed upward or to the side, the law is that the brain and the skull are forbidden. The rest of the meat, however, is permitted.

If the head was placed in the oven so that the nostrils were pointed downward, then if one placed a peg or nail in the nostrils to keep them open, it is permitted because the blood can run out of them.

All these laws that we have discussed apply both to the head of a mammal and the head of a bird. The skull and membrane must be perforated both for salting and cooking.


If the feet of an animal are salted without the hoof being cut somewhat, the blood is not discharged. Therefore, before salting the feet, the hoof should be removed. Alternatively, the tip of the hoof can be cut off, and when it is salted the hole should be facing downward so that the blood can run out.

The hooves should be salted on all sides, with no area left without salt. There are some butchers who only salt the place where the hoof has been cut and directly above it, but this is not correct.

If one has salted hooves without cutting off the tips, he must cut the hooves off with an adjoining piece of meat and discard them. The rest of the foot is then permitted.

Even if one has poured boiling water on the feet, as it is customary to do after salting them, this does not make the entire foot forbidden, but only what is inside the large hoof. Therefore, one must do as we have said. After pouring the boiling water on them, he should cut off the hooves with the adjoining flesh and the rest is permitted to be eaten.


It is a custom to singe fowl in order to remove the feathers. It is also a practice to singe the feet and head of an animal to remove the hair. When doing this, one must be careful that the fire not be too hot. If the fire is too hot, it will congeal the blood and the blood will not be removable by salting. Therefore, one should singe with a weak fire made by burning paper.

The custom today is to use a fire of paper and straw or bran, which is a weak fire.

One must also move the bird back and forth; if the fire is not in one place, the blood will not become congealed.

A chicken may not be defeathered with boiling water before it is salted. This is true even if it is defeathered in a "second vessel." The hot water will congeal the blood and it will not be removed by salting. If one wishes to defeather a bird in hot water, it must be done after the chicken has been salted.

The Heart

It is true that we said that salt removes blood that is in the meat. This, however, is only true if the blood is not in one place but is evenly distributed throughout the meat. If there is a pool of blood in a single place, salt does not remove it.

The heart has two types of blood. One type is the blood in the heart tissue, which is removed by salt. There is also blood in the heart's cavity, which comes from the animal's circulatory system. When the animal is slaughtered, this blood remains there. It cannot be removed by salting since it comes from elsewhere.

In order to remove this blood, the heart must be opened before it is salted and all the inner blood must be removed. Then it may be salted and cooked however one wants it. One can cook it separately or together with other meat.

If one forgets and salts the heart without first opening it, he may open it up after the final rinsing and then cook it. Similarly, if one forgets to open the heart before broiling, and broiled it whole, he may open it after broiling and he may eat it. However, if one forgot and salted it and cooked it without opening it, then it is forbidden. If it is cooked with other food, everything in the pot is forbidden unless there is sixty times as much other food as the volume of the heart. If the volume of the food is sixty times as much as that of the heart, then it is all permitted.

Some authorities maintain that even if the other food is sixty times the volume of the heart, the heart is still forbidden. Of course, in such a case, the other food in the pot is permitted.

If a fowl is cooked whole with the heart left inside unopened, the bird is permitted. There is no bird whose total body volume is less than sixty times that of its heart.

This is true even if the entire bird was not cooked, but the head and feet were removed, as is the practice today. It is still permitted; the remainder still has sixty times the volume of the heart, even without the head and the feet.

However, if only a piece of the bird with the closed heart was cooked, and this piece does not have sixty times the volume of the heart, it is all forbidden.

The Talmud says that one who eats an animal's heart forgets his learning. Therefore, many people will not eat the heart. Some say that the same is true of the heart of a bird.

People who have the custom of eating the heart, cut a small piece from its bottom. They say that the heart is like the holy sign of circumcision. Just as there is a foreskin on the male organ, so there is a foreskin (orlah)on the heart. This small part is where all the forces of evil are attached. Therefore, it is customary to cut off this piece so as to remove all the evil powers.

This is alluded to in the verse, "You shall circumcise the foreskin of your heart." (Devarim 10:16) This indicates that the heart also has a foreskin.

The Lungs

Before salting a lung, it is customary to open up the bronchial tube and pulmonary artery. This is a good custom. However, if it was salted and cooked without opening this vessel, it is permitted because it is too late to do anything about it.

The Liver

The liver contains much blood and cannot be rectified by salting. In this respect, it is different than other meat.

It must be cut open in a crisscross pattern and then carefully washed off. Then it must be roasted over an open fire. It is not sufficient to singe it with fire and then roast it over an open fire. It has to be cut open in a crisscross pattern, washed off, and then roasted over an open fire.

If one wraps it in paper and roasts it with the paper, it is not sufficient.

The liver must be roasted long enough so that it is fit to be eaten. This means that it must be at least half done.

After it is properly roasted, it may be cooked in a pot. After roasting, one should wash it off before it is placed over the fire to be cooked because of the blood clinging to its surface.

However, if one forgot and put it on to cook without washing it after it was roasted, it is permitted.

Even if one does not wish to cook the liver but wants to eat it roasted, he must first cut it open. One must cut it in a crisscross pattern to open the large blood vessels inside it.

If the liver is whole and was not cut open before it was roasted, one must be careful to cut it open after it is roasted and to wash it off well.

It is forbidden to roast liver and other meat on the same spit. This is true, however, only if one roasts it in an oven or stove that has the opening on the side so that the spit must be placed on a slant. We are concerned that the blood of the liver will run down and become absorbed in the meat. However, in a wide stove with the opening on top, the spit is level and one can roast meat and liver together. The only condition is that the meat be on top and the liver on the bottom and not the opposite.

The same is true of salting. It is forbidden to salt the liver when it is on top of the other meat. It may, however, be placed beneath other meat.

Today, the custom is not first to salt the liver at all; rather, when it is on the spit being roasted, it is salted slightly. If it happens that the liver was salted on top of meat, it does not become forbidden; both the meat and the liver may be eaten. If a bird is roasted together with its liver, it is all permissible.

However, if a bird is cooked with its liver, it is all forbidden if the entire bird does not have sixty times the volume of the liver. If it does have sixty times the volume, it is all permitted.

Even if the liver of a bird is divided into two parts, each part should be opened in a crisscross pattern before it is roasted.

Other Inner Organs

It is true that the spleen ("milsa" in Ladino) appears to be a clot of blood. However, it does not have the same status as the liver; rather, it is fatty tissue which resembles blood. It has the same status as other meat and can be salted. It may also be salted together with other meat.

The same is true of the kidneys.

The same is true of the spine ("lunbo" in Ladino). It also has the same status as other meat. It may be salted and cooked together with meat.


The digestive organs and intestines ("tabachiah" in Turkish) have the blood attached to the fat on the outside. Therefore, they must be salted on the outside where the fat is attached. It does not help to salt them on the inside where the food is digested since there is no blood there.

If the intestines are salted on the inside and not on the outside, it is considered as if they were not salted at all. One must rinse them off and then salt them on the outside.

If one did not salt them on the outside and cooked them after they were merely salted on the inside, some say that it is all forbidden. It is assumed that fat was certainly attached to them. However, if the intestines were cooked with other meat, and this would involve a great loss, or if it was a mandated feast (seudah shel mitzvah) and there is nothing else to eat, one may rely on the opinion that says it is permitted since it has already been done. According to this opinion, even if it was only salted on the inside, and there was not sixty times as much food as the volume of the intestines, it is permitted.

With regard to what we have said about the intestines, the rabbi in charge of kashrut must be very careful. One must be very careful when sausages ("sakachos" in Ladino) are prepared. The intestines are turned inside out to remove all the digested food. Therefore, great care must be made to invert them so that the outside is properly salted.

Eggs in a Chicken

Eggs found in a chicken that has been slaughtered must be salted just like any other meat. This is true if they only have a yolk or if they have a yolk and a white; whether they only have a membrane or whether they have a hard shell. In all cases, they must be salted just like any other meat.

However, it is forbidden to salt them together with meat. They must be salted alone.

If one inadvertently salted them together with meat, the meat is permitted and the eggs are forbidden.

If one cooks an egg that was salted together with meat, the entire dish is forbidden unless it contains sixty times the volume of the egg.

Roast Meat

Now we will discuss the laws involving meat if one wants to eat it roasted and not cooked. If meat will be roasted, it does not have to be salted to remove the blood; the fire removes the blood.

However, before the meat is roasted, all the blood on its surface should be washed off very well. Fire cannot remove the blood attached to the surface. Quite the contrary, it dries up surface blood. Therefore, the meat should be washed carefully, and only then may it be roasted.

If one forgot to wash off the meat before roasting it, it is permitted since there is no alternative.

However, if a person is religious and careful regarding the commandments, he should refrain from eating such meat since there are many authorities who maintain that it is forbidden.

When we say that the fire draws out the blood, this is only true of the blood in the meat that is being roasted. However, if blood drips on it from elsewhere when the meat is hot and the blood is absorbed because of the heat, the fire cannot draw it out. Therefore, one must cut off the surface of the meat to a thickness of a finger in the place where the blood has dripped. The rest is then permitted.

If one wishes to salt meat and then roast it, he need not wash off the meat after salting it, but can roast it together with the salt.

However, he must roast it immediately after salting it. If he allows it to remain for a while with the salt, the salt that absorbs the blood renders the meat forbidden.

This is true even if the meat is then washed off before roasting it.

It is therefore best to wash the meat off before roasting it to get rid of this salt. If one forgets to wash it off before roasting it, he may wash it off after it is roasted and it is permitted.

Some authorities maintain that it is forbidden to cut meat while it is being roasted over the fire if the meat is not salted, as long as the meat is not roasted completely. This is because blood becomes absorbed in the knife.

Some authorities also say that the spit is forbidden because it absorbs the blood of the meat. Therefore, it is forbidden to leave the meat on the spit once it is taken off the fire. There is concern that the meat will reabsorb blood from the spit.

There are some authorities who maintain that it is permitted in the above cases, and this is the custom today. However, it is best for a person to be careful regarding this initially whenever possible since there are opinions that say it is forbidden.

If meat is roasted to a degree that most people can eat it but before the roasting is completed, and it is cut over bread, the bread is permitted even though it has become red from the meat's juice. This is true as long as it is at least halfway done. Once it is roasted this much, the liquid coming out is not blood but merely juice or gravy.

If meat is roasted without being salted, it is forbidden to place any vessel under the meat while it is still being roasted over the fire to catch the fat. Since the meat was not salted, the fat is mixed with blood and is forbidden.

Regarding birds and kids which are roasted whole and filled with raw meat, almonds, and other stuffing ("releindados" in Ladino), one must be careful that before filling them he salts each individual piece. This is true of fowl or kid meat and of any meat that is placed inside.

The meat cannot be salted after it is stuffed.

We wrote earlier that roast meat need not be salted. However, this is only true when each part is roasted separately. If one piece of meat is roasted inside another piece, it must be salted and allowed to remain with the salt an hour, and then washed off just as if one wanted to cook it in a pot. Then it may be salted and roasted.

If it is too late and it was roasted without being salted properly, whether both the chicken and its stuffing were not salted or whether only one of them was not salted, it is all permitted. This is true if the chicken was salted, but not the meat stuffing, or vice versa.

This is because the fire causes the blood of the meat inside and the chicken on the outside to discharge; therefore it is permitted if it is too late to do anything about it.

This is only true in the case of roasting. However, if the food is to be cooked in a pot, each item must be salted separately, and then they must be washed off as is normally done after salting. If one salts such a dish after it is filled, or even if he salts the meat inside before the chicken is filled, and then salts the outside of the chicken only and cooks it, we are forbidden to eat it.

When we said that if the chicken is roasted without being salted it is permitted if it is too late, this is only true if the filling is meat or anything like it. However, if it is filled with eggs alone or a mixture of meat and eggs, and it was cooked without each one being salted separately, it is all forbidden. The egg congeals and holds everything in; therefore the blood of neither the chicken nor the filling can run out.

Similarly, it is not proper to roast meat that has been salted together with meat that has not been salted, even if they were washed first. The meat that has been salted does not have anything to discharge; therefore there is concern that it will absorb blood from the meat that has not been salted.

If the meat has not been salted, it is forbidden to place onions or mushrooms ("merinchina" in Ladino) between the pieces of meat and roast them. There is concern that the onion or mushroom will absorb the blood of the meat being roasted.

Although we said that it is not proper to do so, if it has already been done and it is too late, it does not render the food forbidden.

7:28 Vayedaber HASHEM el-Moshe lemor
And HASHEM spoke to Moshe, saying:
29 Daber el-benei Yisrael lemor hamakriv et-zevach shelamav laHASHEM yavi et-karbano laHASHEM mizevach shelamav
Speak to the Children of Yisrael, saying: Whoever shall bring the sacrifice of his peace-offering to HASHEM, he shall bring his offering to HASHEM from his peace-offering.
Now, after the Torah spells everything out for us the prohibitions against chelev-fat and blood, it returns to the discussion of the shelamim offering.  We explained earlier why the laws of fat and blood interrupt the laws of the peace offering.  Now the Torah returns to its original topic.

The Torah says, "One who brings his peace offering to G-d must bring his sacrifice to G-d from his peace offering."  This indicates that a person bringing the sacrifice must, with his own hands, bring the designated portions (emurim) to the kohen so that they can be burned on the Altar.  This scarifice is not like the others, where the person bringing it simply gives a live animal to the kohen, whereupon the kohen slaughters it and burns the innards and legs on the Altar.

Other sacrifices, such as the burnt offering, the sin offering and the guilt offering, are only brought for a sin.  Since they are brought as atonement, it would not be proper for the person offering the sacrifice to bring it himself.  It would appear to be arrogance.  When a slave does wrong and rebels against his master, and he wishes to bring a gift of appeasement, he does not bring it himself.  He sends it by messenger; only then does he himself come to his master.

The shelamim, however, is brought when one has peace and joy, not for sin.  Therefore, the Torah says, "Make sure that you yourself bring the fats and give them into the hand of the kohen.  You have no sin of which to be ashamed." (Kli Yekar)

7:30 Yadav tevi'eina et ishei HASHEM et-hachelev al-hechazeh yevi'enu et hechazeh lehanif oto tenufah lifnei HASHEM
With his own hands he must bring the choice parts presented as a fire offering to HASHEM on top of the [animal's] chest.  He shall wave the chest in the prescribed motions as a wave offering before HASHEM. 
When a person bringing the sacrifice presents the designated altar portions  giving them to the kohen to be burned, he must also bring the chest and the right leg.  These are waved as a wave offering.

The wave offering (tenufah) is done in the following manner:

The kohen places the fats in the hands of the person bringing the sacrifice.  Upon the fats he places the chest and the leg.  Upon these he places the other designated portions, specifically the two kidneys.

If the sacrifice is a thanksgiving offering, he then places the four loaves on top of everything.

Then the kohen puts his hands under the hands of the person bringing the sacrifice and together they make the tenufah.  This is done by moving their hands with these objects in all four directions and up and down.

After the tenufah is completed, the kohen burns the fats, the diaphragm, and the two kidneys on the Altar.  After they are burned, the chest and leg are given to the kohen, who may eat them. (Yad, Maaseh HaKorbanot 9)

G-d commanded us to perform the tenufah ceremony, waving the chest, leg and fats to teach that G-d oversees every detail from one end of the world to the other, noting what every person does.

The Hebrew word for chest is chazeh, which also has the connotation of seeing.  We thus find, "His eyes shall see (ye-chezu) , his eyelids shall discern the children of man" (Tehillim 11:4).  This teaches that G-d's eyes and eyelids know people's deeds and nothing is hidden from them.  That is why the chest (chazeh) is waved in all four directions: east, west, north and south.

The fat, inner organs, and the kidneys also teach that G-d looks into the innermost recesses and hearts of all people.

The leg is waved up and down.  This teaches that G-d has the power to raise and to lower. (Abarbanel; Ralbag)

7:31 Vehiktir hakohen et-hachelev hamizbecha vehayah hechazeh leAharon ulevanav
The Kohen shall then burn the choice parts on the Altar.  The chest [on the other hand], shall belong to Aharon and his descendants.
32 Ve'et shok hayamin titnu terumah lakohen mizivchei shalmeichem
The right hind leg of your peace offering shall [also] be given as an elevated gift to the kohen.
33 Hamakriv et-dam hashelamim ve'et-hachelev mibnei Aharon lo tihyeh shok hayamin lemanah
Any descendant of Aharon [fit to] offer the blood and fat of the peace offering shall have the right leg as a portion.
34 Ki et-chazeh hatenufah ve'et shok hateruma lakachti me'et benei-Yisrael mizivchei shameihem va'eten otam leAharon hakhen ulevanav lechak-olam me'et benei Yisrael
This is because I have taken the chest as a wave offering and the hind leg as an elevated gift from the Benei Yisrael, from their peace sacrifices, and I have given [these parts] to Aharon the kohen and his descendants.  It is a law for all times [that this be taken] from the Benei Yisrael.
The Torah says, "The tenufah chest and the terumah hind leg, I have taken from the Benei Yisrael, from their peace sacrifices, and I have given them to Aharon the kohen..."  This is to refute any claim that the kohen takes the chest and leg from the owner's portion without permission.  G-d indicates that these parts do not belong to the owner, but to G-d who grants them to the kohen.  Therefore, the kohanim are eating from the table of the Divine.  It is an everlasting law that when anyone brings a shelamim sacrifice, the kohen takes the chest and the leg. (Abarbanel)

7:35 Zot mishchat Aharon umishchat banav me'ishei HASHEM beyom hikriv otam lechahen laHASHEM
This is the [portion] of HASHEM's fire offerings [that was given when] Aharon and his sons were anointed, on the day that He brought them forth to be kohanim to HASHEM.
36 asher tzivah HASHEM latet lahem beyom mashcho otam me'et benei Yisrael chukat olam ledorotam
On the day that He anointed them, HASHEM commanded that this be given to them by the Benei Yisrael.  It is an eternal law for all generations.
37 Zot haTorah la'olah laminchah velachatat vela'asham velamilu'im ulezevach hashelamim
This then is the law of the burnt offering, the meal offering, the sin offering, the inauguration offering, and the peace offering,
38 asher tzivah HASHEM et-Moshe behar Sinai beyom tzavoto et-benei Yisrael lehakriv et-karbeneihem laHASHEM bemidbar Sinai
which HASHEM gave Moshe on Mount Sinai.  [It was given] on the day that He commanded the Benei Yisrael to offer their sacrifices to HaShem in the Sinai Desert.
The Torah literally says, "This is the Torah for the olah, the minchah..." This teaches that when G-d recited to Moshe the chapters dealing with the sacrifices as atonement for sin, Moshe said to G-d, "This is fine when the Temple will be standing but when the Temple is not standing, what remedy will there be for a person who sins?"

G-d said, "When the Temple is not standing, the Benei Yisrael will have a very precious remedy that costs no money.  This is Torah study.  If a person studies Torah, especially regarding the sacrifices  I will accept it as if they had brought all the sacrifices, and I will grant them atonement for their sins." (Zohar, VaYera; Yalkut Reuveni)

This is alluded to when the Torah ends the section by saying, "This is the Torah for the olah, the minchah, the chatat, the asham, the inauguration offering and the shelamim sacrifice."  This teaches that if a person studies the Torah diligently, it is counted as if he had offered all the sacrifices.

8:1 Vayedaber HASHEM el-Moshe lemor
And HASHEM spoke to Moshe, saying:
2 Kach et-Aharon ve'et-banav ito ve'et habegadim ve'et shemen hamishchah ve'et par hachatat ve'et shenei ha'eilim ve'et sal hamatzot
Take Aharon, along with his sons, the garments, the anointing oil, the bull for the sin-offering, the two rams and a basket of unleavened bread.
 This section deals with G-d's commandment to Moshe to initiate Aharon and his sons with their vestments and to inaugurate them to their service.  G-d commanded all this to Moshe seven days before the Mishkan was erected (Parashat Pekudei).  This chapter should have been included there; why is it placed here instead?

The Torah is teaching us the importance of the priestly vestments.  It places the discussion of the priestly vestments in juxtaposition with the sacrifices, to teach that just as the sacrifices are an atonement, so are the priestly vestments an atonement. (Rashi; VaYikra Rabbah)

Each of the vestments atones for a different sin (Parashat Tetzaveh).

G-d said to Moshe, "Take Aharon." G-d told Moshe to draw Aharon with words so that he would rejoice that he was chosen to be the Kohen Gadol.  Since this was a position of status and leadership, Aharon was certainly not very calm about it. A truly spiritual person seeks to avoid position or leadership.  Therefore, Moshe was to "take him with words" and convince him to agree to it.

At the same time, Moshe was to take Aharon's sons, the priestly vestments, the anointing oil, the sin offering bull, the two rams, and the basket of matzahs.  All of these items were discussed in Parashat Tetzaveh. (Tanchuma; Yalkut Shemoni)

8:3 Ve'et kol-ha'edah hakehel el-petach ohel mo'ed
Assemble the entire congregation at the entrance of the Tent of Meeting."
This was so that all Yisrael could see what preparation was necessary to inaugurate Aharon and his sons as kohanim.  They would then give great honor and status to the kohanim. (Sifra; Yalkut Shemoni)

Also, they would see that Aharon could not enter the kehunah (priesthood) without G-d commanding it.  Moshe had to convince him to agree.  Therefore, they would not be able to say that Aharon grabbed this position for himself, as indeed Korach and his band did. (Sifetei Kohen)

When G-d told Moshe to gather the people before the Tent of Meeting's entrance, Moshe said to G-d, "Master of the Universe, the whole area in front of the entrance is only fifty cubits (seventy-five feet) by fifty cubits."  The Torah had said earlier, "The length of the courtyard shall be one hundred cubits and its width shall be fifty by fifty" (Shemot 27:18).

Moshe said, "How can such a small area hold all Yisrael?  There are 600,000 adult men and at least that many women and children."

"Do not wonder about this," replied G-d.  "I can take the firmament, which is like the membrane of an eye, and spread it out from one end of the earth to the other.  I will tell My prophet, 'He spreads out the heaven like a curtain and spreads it out as a tent to live in' (Yeshayahu 40:22).  Also, millions of angels came to Mount Sinai, yet they all stood on the mountain   (This was a great miracle; G-d commanded that the mountain stretch out.)  Here too, through My Word, the place will stretch to hold them all."

With G-d's help, this will also happen at the resurrection.  Everyone, from Adam until the end of time, will come back to life, and they will all stand in Yerushalayim; yet Yerushalayim's area will increase at G-d's command, as it is written, "Expand the place of your tent and the curtain of your Mishkan.  Spread out; do not stop..." (Yeshayahu 54:2). (VaYikra Rabbah; Bachya)

8:4 Vayaas Moshe ka'asher tzivah HASHEM oto vatikahel ha'edah el-petach ohel mo'ed
Moshe did that which HASHEM commanded him and the congregation was assembled at the entrance of the Tent of Meeting.
 This indicates that all the Benei Yisrael filed into the courtyard and miraculously it was able to hold them.  Moshe did not have to do anything to squeeze them in.

8:5 Vayomer Moshe el-ha'edah zeh hadavar asher-tzivah HASHEM la'asot
Moshe said to the congregation, "This is the edict that HASHEM commanded to do."
"I am not doing what you see of my own accord.  It is what G-d has commanded." (Rashi)

8:6 Vayakrev Moshe et-Aharon ve'et-banav vayirchatz otam bamayim
Moshe brought Aharon and his sons near and bathed them in water.
7 Vayiten alav et-hakutonet vayachgor oto baavnet vayalbesh oto et-hame'il vayiten alav et-ha'efod vayachgor oto becheshev ha'efod vayepod lo bo
He placed the Tunic on him, girded him with the sash, dressed him in the Robe, placed the Efod on him girded him with the Efod-sash and tightened it for him.
8 Vayasem alav et-hachoshen vayiten el-hachoshen et-ha'urim ve'et-hatumim
He put the Breastplate on him and he placed in the Breastplate the Urim and the Tumim.
9 Vayasem et-hamitznefet al-rosho vayasem al-hamitznefet el-mul panav et tzitz hazahav nezer hakodesh ka'asher tzivah HASHEM et-Moshe
He placed the turban on his head and he placed, on the front of the turban, the Golden Plate, the Crown of Holiness, just as HASHEM commanded Moshe.
10 Vayikach Moshe et-shemen hamishchah vayimshach et-h.mishkan ve'et-kol-asher-bo vayekadesh otam
Moshe took the anointing-oil and anointed the Mishkan and everything inside it and sanctified them.
11 Vayaz mimenu al-hamizbeach sheva pe'amim vayimshach et-hamizbeach ve'et-kol-kelav ve'et-hakiyor ve'et-kano lekadsham
He sprinkled some of it on the Altar seven times; he anointed the Altar and all its utensils, the washing basin and its base, to sanctify them.
12 Vayitzok mishemen hamishchah al rosh Aharon vayimshach oto lekadsho
He poured some of the anointing-oil on Aharon's head and anointed him, to sanctify him.
13Vayakrev Moshe et-benei Aharon vayalbishem kutonot vayachgor otam avnet vayachavosh lahem migbaot ka'asher tzivah HASHEM et-Moshe
Moshe brought near the sons of Aharon and dressed them in tunics, girded them with ashes, and tied high turbans for them [to wear], just as HASHEM commanded Moshe.
14 Vayagesh et par hachatat vayismoch Aharon uvanav et-yedeihem al-rosh par hachatat
He brought near the sin-offering bullock and Aharon and his sons laid their hands on the head of the sin-offering bullock.
15 Vayishchat vayikach Moshe et-hadam vayiten al-karnot hamizbe'ach saviv be'etzba'o vayechate et-hamizbe'ach ve'et-hadam yatzak el-yesod hamizbe'ach vayekadshehu lechaper alav
He slaughtered it; and Moshe took the blood and put it atop the corners of the Altar all around with his finger and he purified the Altar.  He poured the blood into the base of the Altar and sanctified it, to atone upon it.
The Torah says that, "He atoned for the Altar."  This indicates that he atoned for the Altar itself, for any sin of robbery or coercion.

There was concern that the leaders may have coerced unwilling people to bring gifts for the Mishkan.

It may also have happened that some Benei Yisrael did not want to give gifts for the Mishkan, but when they heard the announcement that gifts had to be brought they gave against their will.

It would then be considered as if the Mishkan were built of things that were given unjustly.  Moshe therefore had to sprinkle blood on the Altar to atone for any such misdeeds. (Targum Yonatan)

8:16 Vayikach et-kol-hachelev asher al-hakerev ve'et yoteret hakaved ve'et-shetei hakelayot ve'et-chelbehen vayakter Moshe hamizbechah
He took all the fat on the innards, the lobe of the liver, the two kidneys and their fats and Moshe burned [them] on the Altar.
17 Ve'et-hapar ve'et-oro ve'et-besaro ve'et-pirsho saraf ba'esh michutz lamachaneh ka'asher tzivah HASHEM et-Moshe
The bullock, its skin, its flesh and its waste [that are in its intestines], he burned in fire, beyond the encampment, just as HASHEM commanded Moshe.
18 Vayakrev et eil ha'olah vayismechu Aharon uvanav et-yedeihem al-rosh ha'ayil
He brought the burnt-offering ram and Aharon and his sons laid their hands on the ram's head.
19 Vayishchat vayizrok Moshe et-hadam al-hamizbe'ach saviv
He slaughtered it; and Moshe sprinkled the blood all around the Altar.
20 Ve'et-ha'ayil nitach lintachav vayakter Moshe et-harosh ve'et-hanetachim ve'et-hapader
He severed the ram's limbs; and Moshe burned the head and the severed limbs and the fat.
21 Ve'et-hakerev ve'et-hakera'ayim rachatz bamayim vayakter Moshe et-kol-ha'ayil hamizbechah olah hu lereiach-nichoach isheh hu laHASHEM ka'asher tzivah HASHEM et-Moshe
He washed the innards and feet in water; and Moshe burned the entire ram on the altar.  It is a burnt-offering; for a pleasing fragrance, a fire-offering to HASHEM, just as HASHEM commanded Moshe.
22 Vayakrev et-ha'ayil hasheni eil hamiluim vayismechu Aharon uvanav et-yedeihem al-rosh ha'ayil
He brought the second ram, the ram for the installation-offering; and Aharon and his sons laid their hands on the ram's head.
23 Vayishchat vayikach Moshe midamo vayiten al-tenuch ozen-Aharon hayemanit ve'al-bohen yado hayemanit ve'al-bohen raglo hayemanit
He slaughtered it; and Moshe took some of its blood and he put in on Aharon's right earlobe, on the thumb of his right hand and the big toe of his right foot.
24 Vayakrev et-benei Aharon vayiten Moshe min-hadam al-tenuch aznam hayemanit ve'al-bohen yadam hayemanit ve'al-bohen raglam hayemanit vayizrok Moshe et-hadam al-hamizbe'ach saviv
He brought the sons of Aharon; and Moshe put some blood on their right earlobes and on the thumbs of their right hands and on the big toes of their right feet.  Moshe sprinkled the blood all around the Altar.
The Torah refers to the thumb as "בהן" (bohen), while Chazal refer to it as the "גודל" (gudal) because of its thickness (as implied by the word גדול - gadol - large).

Rabbeinu Bachya notes the specific names which Chazal have given to each finger of the hand. He cites Rashi's commentary on the Ketuvot 5b, which explains the reason for the name of each finger. Each reason is based upon the finger's specific function reflected in holy endeavor.

בֺּהֶן - bohen - thumb: to which the blood of the sacrifices were applied on certain occassions

אֶצְבַּע - etzba - forefinger: dipped in blood to sprinkle it.

אַמׇּה - amah - middle finger: used in measuring the cubit.

קְמִיצׇה - kemitzah - ring finger: used in taking the handful of meal-offerings (Vayikra 2:2)

זֶרֶת - zeret - little finger: used in measuring the span (Shemot 28:16).

It is amazing that when Chazal identified each finger, they named it in accordance with its holy function. Most people who use each finger for a different holy function are not Kohanim. Should not a name be given according ot its primary use, which is for mundane matters?

The Mesilot Chayim explains that the spiritual function of an object is evidently the determining factor in its name. The reason for this is simple... Everything is created for a single purpose, to serve Hashem. Man is here to serve the Almighty and to sanctify His Name with all of his organs and faculties. Consequently, the name of the fingers correspond with their spiritual potential. (Rabbi A. L. Scheinbaum)

25 Vayikach et-hachelev ve'et-ha'alyah ve'et-kol-hachelev asher al-hakerev ve'et yoteret hakaved ve'et-shetei hakelayot ve'et-chelbehen ve'et shok hayamin
He took the fat and the fat tail, all the fat on the innards, the lobe of the liver, the two kidneys and their fats and the right thigh.
26 Umisal hamatzot asher lifnei HASHEM lakach chalat matzah achat vechalat lechem shemen achat verakik echad vayasem al-hachalavim ve'al shok hayamin
From the basket of matzot which [was] before HASHEM he took one matzah loaf, one oil-bread and one wafer and he placed them on the fats and on the right thigh.
27 Vayiten et-hakol al kapei Aharon ve'al kapei vanav vayanef otam tenufah lifnei HASHEM
He put them all on Aharon's palms and on the palms of his sons and he waved them as a wave-offering before HASHEM.
28 Vayikach Moshe otam me'al kapeihem va'akter hamizbechah al-ha'ola miluim hem lerei'ach nicho'ach isheh hu laHASHEM
29 Vayikach Moshe et-hechazeh vayenifehu tenufah lifnei HASHEM me'eil hamilu'im leMoshe hayah lemanah kaasher tzivah HASHEM et-Moshe
Moshe took the breast and waved it [as] a wave-offering before HASHEM.  From the ram for the installation-offering - that was the portion of Moshe - just as HASHEM commanded Moshe.
30 Vayikach Moshe mishemen hamishchah uminhadam asher al-hamizbe'ach vayaz al-Aharon al-begadav ve'al-banav ve'al-bigdei vanav ito vayekadesh et-Aharon et-begadav ve'et-banav ve'et-bigdei vanav ito
Moshe took some anointing-oil and some blood that was on the Altar and sprinkled it on Aharon, on his garments, and on his sons and on his sons' garments with him.  He sanctified Aharon and his garments and his sons and his sons' garments with him.
31 Vayomer Moshe el-Aharon ve'el-banav bashlu et-habasar petach ohel mo'ed vesham tochlu oto ve'et-halechem asher besal hamiluim ka'asher tziveiti lemor Aharon uvnav yochluhu
Moshe said to Aharon and to his sons, "Cook the flesh at the entrance of the Tent of Meeting and you shall eat it there [with] the bread that is in the installation basket just as I commanded, saying; Aharon and his sons shall eat them.
32 Vehanotar babasar uvalachem baesh tisrofu
Whatever flesh and bread is left over, you shall burn them in fire.
The flesh was to be cooked at the Tent of Meeting entrance, like all other peace offerings.

However, one should not think that it could be eaten as the shelamim (peace offering) were eaten, that is, for two days and one night; rather, the installation sacrifice could only be eaten on that day and night.  Whatever was left over had to be burned in fire; it was considered leftovers (notar). (Korban Aharon)

8:33 Umipetach ohel mo'ed lo tetzu shivat yamim ad yom melot yemei milueichem ki shivat yamim yemale et-yedchem
From the entrance of the Tent of Meeting you shall not go out for seven days until the time that your days of installation are complete, because for seven days your hands will be filled.
In this verse G-d commanded the kohanim that they not leave the Mishkan as long as they were involved in the service, except to attend to their bodily needs.

The Torah says, "You shall not leave for seven days." The Torah is not only speaking of the seven days of installation, saying that they were then forbidden to leave, but at other times it was permitted; rather, on each of the seven days they had to perform a special service, so they were forbidden to leave.  The same law applies on any other day when they are performing a service.

The Torah therefore says, "For seven days you shall be installed."  The reason that exactly seven days were designated was because during those seven days, each day had a special service.  They were therefore forbidden to be absent during this period. (Ramban)

8:34 Ka'asher asa bayom hazeh tzivah HASHEM la'asot lechaper aleichem
Just as you have done on this day, HASHEM commanded him to do, to bring about atonement.
35 Ufetach ohel mo'ed teshvu yomam valaila shivat yamim ushemartem et-mishmeret HASHEM velo tamutu ki-chen tzuveiti
At the entrance of the Tent of Meeting you shall sit day and night for seven days and keep charge of HASHEM and you will not die, because I have been thus commanded.
G-d said to Moshe, "Two of Aharon's sons are destined to die.  Therefore I am commanding you that they sit day and night for seven days at the Mishkan entrance.  They shall behave like mourners, who may not leave their house for seven days to stroll or do business, so as not to take their mind off their mourning.  Here, too, they may not leave their house, which is the Mishkan, for seven days.  Let them mourn even before they die." (Bereishit Rabbah, VaYechi; Yerushalmi, Moed Katan 3)

Moshe did not reveal this to Aharon and his sons explicitly.  He hinted to them, "At the Tent of Meeting entrance you must sit, day and night for seven days, and keep G-d's charge and not die, for this is what you were commanded."

They understood that they were to keep seven days of mournings as "G-d's charge."

This is called "G-d's watch" because G-d behaves like a watchman, as it were, keeping seven days of mourning before catastrophe strikes.

They thought that G-d's watch was the Mishkan's sacrifice which they had to perform.

It is true that seven days of mourning are normally kept after death, not before.  Therefore, one might wonder why G-d kept seven days of mourning before the great flood (Bereishit 7:10).

This is only true of human beings, who do not know the future.  Since G-d knows the future, He can observe mourning even beforehand. (Yeffeh Toar; Nezer HaKodesh, VaYechi)

G-d told Aharon and his sons to be in mourning ahead of time because Nadav and Avihu were desitned to die on one day, the eighth day of the installation.  This day, however, was like a festival to them, because it was the day they were installed as kohanim.  Therefore, it was necessary for the mourning to take place earlier. (Nezer HaKodesh, loc. cit.)

8:36 Vayaas Aharon uvanav et kol-hadevarim asher-tziva HASHEM beyad-Moshe
Aharon and his sons fulfilled all the edicts that HASHEM commanded through Moshe.
They did not stray to the right or the left.  This is understood, since they were great people. How could we even imagine that they would change anything that G-d had commanded?  This appears to be redundant.

However, Aharon was a prophet just like Moshe.  Therefore, he might have been troubled that he received the commandment regarding all these things through Moshe, and not directly from G-d.

The Torah therefore tells us that Aharon did everything joyously, even though G-d had commanded it through Moshe.  It was the same to him as if he had heard it directly from G-d; he was not upset at all. (Rashi; Sifra; Korban Aharon)

For seven days, Moshe carried out all the details of the Consecration Service as described in Parashat Tetzaveh. He himself dressed Aharon in the eight garments of the Kohen Gadol. Moshe also dressed and undressed the other Kohanim on each of the seven days so as to teach and train them. Moshe anointed the Kohanim with the shemen ha-mishchah (oil of anointment) and likewise anointed all of the Mishkan's holy vessels to consecrate them. 

He offered the Inauguration Sacrifices daily, a bullock and two rams. Alone, he slaughtered the animals, sprinkled their blod, and removed the ashes from the Mizbeach. 

On each of the seven days, Moshe dismantled the entire Mishkan at night, setting it up again in the morning. 

Moshe was a wonderful teacher, and Aharon and his sons great students. They eagerly accepted Mosh's words of instruction.

Hashem commanded that during the seven Inauguration Days, the Kohanim were not to leave their avodah for any reason.

Seven days passed, and now the eighth, climactic day was imminent. On it, the Kohanim were bidden to perform the service for the first time independently, causing the Shechinah to descend upon the Mishkan. The events of this eighth eventful day, fraught with both tragedy and joy, are described in the next Torah portion, Parashat Shemini.


Sources: MeAm Lo'ez, Bachya, Rashi, Ramban, Zohar, Midrash

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