Please Pass The Salt | A Guest Post

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A guest post by Rabbi Aaron Fink (my father), Dean of Ateres Bais Yaakov in Monsey NY. Part of a weekly Dvar Torah (Torah “Thought”) series.

Parshas Vayikra

Pretense, Arrogance and Salt

The avodas hakorbanos is a defining aspect of our avodas Hashem. Sefer Vayikrah begins by outline the specific details of sacrifice. We are taught, adam ki yakriv the offerings we bring our us. It is as if we our selves are being put on the alter and being offered in the fiery pyre to the Ribbono Shel Olam. Only as give ourselves to Him can we strengthen our connection to Hakadosh Baruch Hu, the source of all goodness.

One interesting halacha in the avodas hakorbanos is worth closer scrutiny. We are told that both se’ohr (chametz) and d’vash are prohibited from being offered on the mizbeiach. The mifarshim, grapple with understanding the ta’am of this mitzvah. The Rambam in the Moreh Haniviuchim teaches that this prohibition is designed to assure that our avodas hakorbanos is different than the ovdei avodah zarah who do, indeed, try to enhance their offerings with chametz and honey.

Other rmifarshim look at se’ohr and d’vash as being elements of yetzer harah which must not contaminate the sacrifices of our avodas Hashem. They explain that se’ohr is representative of arrogance. Puffed up from their natural state, chametzdike products are reflective of ga’avah a sense of haughtiness and “I am better than you” attitude. Toavas Hashem kol gva lev, Hahsem disdains human hubris and conceit. Simply put, there is no place on the mizbeiach for arrogance. It is an attitude which can never enter the seder of our personal avodah. Nor can it color our spiritual sacrifice in whatever we do.

D’vash is external sweetening. It represents pretense, and the notion that we can somehow try and sugarcoat our iniquities. It is the exact opposite of what we need. Hashem Yisborach demands a broken heart not a saccharine-sweet version of penance. We must be real with Him. Mistakes are made, but we can do tershuva and reconnect. However, we must do so without pretense and with out excuses. As such dvash is not allowed on the mizbeich.

Nevertheless, one cannot help but be puzzled why a few psukim later we are taught the every korban requires salt. The Bris Melech demands that al kol karbencha takriv melach! In light of the prohibition to offer se’ohr and d’vash, why is salt different?

In addition, once we are offering salt why is there is no shiur listed, l’halacha even one grain of salt is sufficient. Shouldn’t there be a prescribed minimum like so many other of the korbanic rituals? What does this teach us?

The Mei Hashiloach explains that the essence of the bris melach is a reference to Yirah. During maaseh Breishis, Hashem separated the lower and upper waters. Rashi in Vaykra tells us that the Bris Melach of the Korbanos was a promise made to the lower waters ensuting them that they would have an opportunity to connect with Hashem in the mishkan. “Melach moreh al yirah”, the act of separated the waters was a true act of din. It is reflective of our struggle between our upper consiousness and our lower consciousness and sensing the wonder of this separation fills us with awe. The salt is a byproduct of this awesome act that must infuse us with a sense of awe. Therefore, the Mei Hashiloach explains shekol hitkorvosecha b’Torah, ub’avodah, ub’mitzvos yihiyeh biyirah ubazeh yiskayeim hakol! Yiras Shamayim, he says, must be the ever present ingredient in all that we do. With it our sacrifices are deemed worthy without it they are rejected. Perhaps that is why there is no shiur for salt and why it is so vital. We know, hakol bidei Shamayim chutz miyiras Shamayim, everything is in the hands of the Ribbono Shel Olam except for our fear of Heaven. That must come from within. As long as there is even a mashehu – a minuscule grain of Yiras Shamayim in our endeavors there is hope and opportunity. But take the fear of heaven out of the picture and all is lost, indeed, all is wasted. The mizbeiach requires not se’ohr not d’vash, but salt. Korbanos filled with arrogance and pretense offered by the self serving individual who only thinks of himself. have no place in our avoda not then and not now.

This message must not be lost on our daily lives. Al kol korbancha takriv melach Our limud haTorah and kiyum hamitzvos need their salt (not honey and not chametz) So do our dreams. Too often we mistakably turn to se’ohr and d’vash to extricate us from our problems. They ususlly make matters worse. What we really need is to access the bris melach. Salt and the (yiras Shamayim it represents ) does not just enhance their flavor but it delivers us the Siyata Dishmaya to succeed. It is time we give it a shake.

  • Very nice, I like it a lot.

    Se’or puffs up, i.e. makes more important, haughty. Devash adds sweetness without much effort, no cultivation, just raid the honeycomb (back then, as far as I know, honeybees weren’t raised as they are today), the bees did all the work, no cultivation, no plowing, no hard work at all.

    Salt, on the other hand, required finding it, couldn’t be grown under any circumstances, usually found near the sea (or where a sea once existed). Was prized and had to often be transported at great cost over long distances.

    “Sacrifice” implies work, labor, effort, not ease.