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Friday, March 11

The Weekly Shtikle - Vayikra

This week's parsha deals with a number of different versions of the korban chatas, the sin offering. The sin offering of the Nasi is introduced in a slightly different way than the others. The other versions of the chatas offering are introduced with the word "im/ve'im," and if... The Nasi's chatas, however, is introduced (4:22) with the word "asher," when the Nasi sins.

Rabbeinu Bachya approaches this linguistic discrepancy in the simplest manner. He writes that it is the nature of a man high in power to be consumed by haughtiness and hubris which is most likely to lead to sin. So, while the sin of others is introduced more indefinitely, "if it would happen to be that such-and-such person were to sin," the sin of the Nasi is introduced almost as a certainty.

Rashi provides a more homiletic interpretation of the word asher from Toras Kohanim 4:257. Asher is like "ashrei," praised. The pasuk is actually giving praise to the Nasi, not for committing the sin, God forbid, but for having the integrity to come forth and admit it. The high public position makes it all the more embarrassing to admit guilt. Praised is the generation whose Nasi swallows that embarrassment and has the gumption to do what's required of him.

Malbim offers another optimistic approach related to that of Rashi's. The words asher and im are really interchangeable (see Rashi Rosh HaShanah 3a). There is one slight difference between the word im and the word asher used to mean im. The word asher is used to denote a possibility which we would like to occur while im simply implies a possibility. The best example of this is in Parshas Re'eih. The parsha begins by explaining what will trigger the blessings and the curses. The pasuk says (Devarim11:27) "Es haberachah asher tishme'u... (pasuk 28) vehakelalah im lo sishme'u." The translation is the same for both, if you will listen or if you will not listen. However, since listening is what we want to happen, the word asher is used whereas the word im is used for not listening. Here, too, we want the Nasi to be one who will come forth and admit his sins. It is his position of power and influence that makes it most important for him to possess this quality. Therefore, the Torah introduces his sin offering with the word asher.

Have a good Shabbos. Mishenichnas Adar Marbim beSimchah!

Eliezer Bulka

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