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Parshat Vayikra

By: Herschel Karp and Emanuel Barkagan (11th Grade)

In this week’s Parsha, Parshat Vayikra, a Pasuk says, “Speak to the Children of Israel, and say to them: When a man from among you brings a sacrifice to Hashem; from animals, from cattle or from the flock, you shall bring your sacrifice.” Rashi comments on this verse that the sacrifices are only referring to voluntary ones. He also brings up the question as to why the pasuk says "a man." He answers that just as Adam, the first man, never offered sacrifices from stolen property, since everything was his, so too, you must not offer sacrifices from stolen property.” There are many possible questions that could be brought about this Rashi.

Why does Rashi quote the words, “man from you” in his opening statement? Seemingly, the proof that the verse is referring to voluntary offerings is from the word "Ki".

Regarding the order of Rashi’s comments on this verse: why does Rashi not explain the word “man” before he explains the words “man from you who will offer"?

One would think that the laws of offerings would begin with obligatory offerings, for they are the primary ones. Therefore, we would have explained that the reason the Torah uses the word “Ki” which implies voluntary is because the verse includes non-Jews, who are not obligated to bring offerings. In order to reject this interpretation, Rashi quotes the word "from you" in the opening statement, which refers to the Jewish people.

We could, however, offer another explanation to establish that although the verse uses the word “Ki," it is referring to an obligatory offering. We could explain that the verse is referring to a sin offering which is obligatory. The reason the verse uses the word “Ki” which implies that it is voluntary, is because the sin offering includes an offering that is not an obligation. In order to reject this interpretation, Rashi quotes the word “Adam,” and not “ Ish;” unlike “ Ish,” “Adam ” does not refer specifically to an adult.

By quoting the words “for you” and "man," Rashi demonstrates that the Torah must be referring to voluntary offerings.

According to the above, there is still a question: why does the Torah use the word "man?" The proof that we are not referring to an obligatory sin offering is because the verse does not use the word “Ish,” but that does not explain why the verse does use the word “Adam.” Rashi, therefore, explains that the word “Adam” teaches that we cannot offer from stolen property.

In explaining the Torah’s reference to "Adam," Rashi quotes Midrash Rabbah, that writes: “Everything was his,” and not the Midrash Tanchuma that writes: “He was the only person in the world.” The reason Rashi quotes the former is because according to the straightforward understanding of the verse, Adam did not offer any offerings. Therefore, Rashi explains that Adam was not able to offer stolen property. Tamchuma’s version, (that Adam was alone in the world), applied only for a short period of time. The Midrash that Rashi quotes applied even after there were other people, because even then “everything was his” for everyone else was considered as if they were “eating at his table." This is why Rashi says “everything was his,” and not, “everything was in his domain.” There were things that were in the domain of others, yet everything belonged to Adam.

Although there is no record of Adam performing an act of acquisition to legally acquire everything in the world, everything belonged to him. This is similar to a king who acquires the entire country by conquest. Similarly, when Adam was alone in the world he was the ruler over everything. The entire world was “conquered under his domain" and therefore everything belonged to him.

Good Shabbos!

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