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Browse Torah Articles: Sefer Vayiqra: Parashat Sav: The Price of Torah: Too High?

Contributed by: R. Ezra J. Mizrahi


The parasha begins with the commandment that Hashem gives Moshe to direct Aharon and his sons about the sacrifice of the Olah. This sacrifice was completely burnt on the altar, and the Kohen only received the skin of the animal as payment for their toil in the Mishkan and Bet Hamiqdash.

Rashi explains that the word "Sav" ( literally meaning to command) is employed when needed to hasten an individual to perform a missvah. In our case, Rashi explains that because there was monetary loss for the Kohanim when bringing this sacrifice, Moshe needed to add that extra push, and use the language of Sav.

This explanation begs a question, and it is a famous question that hovers over this Rashi.

What monetary loss did the Kohanim incur when performing this sacrifice?

There are many answers to this question. In fact, there is another Devar Torah regarding this question, posted on the website, which answers the question in a completely different light. However, here, we will transcend to discuss a non-simple (non-peshat) meaning to the text.

Our rabbis tell us that those who learn the details of this sacrifice, its parameters and depth, using the mefarshim, and mishnayot and gemariyot, merit a zechout as if they actually brought an actual animal as an Olah to the Kohen. Learning Torah is equated with bringing an actual sacrifice. The reason why they are equated, is because much of what one must go through while learning Torah, is part of what one must go through when bringing a sacrifice. When one bring a sacrifice, one must work hard to earn money to purchase an animal, humble oneself when bringing the sacrifice, and ultimately draw oneself closer to the Hashem.

The same is true about learning Torah. Learning Torah takes hours upon hours upon hours. It is not a simple task. One must sacrifice time, significant time, time that could be spent earning extra money, and devote it Torah, if one wishes to grow as a Jew. Learning Torah is a humbling experience, especially when an obvious answer is illusive and overt mistakes are made. And most importantly, learning Torah draws one closer to the infinite beauty and complexity of our Torah, leading one to glorify its Creator.

And so we can explain why the language of "Sav" was used in a new light. Just as one must be hastened when bringing the actual qorban, one must be hastened to learn Torah. Why? There is monetary loss when devoting time to Torah, no doubt. In the old days, people would devote part of their day until two or three oclock and then head to the midrash, earning what they needed to live a good life. It is true that nowadays, more is required to take care of a family, especially in our community, but one needs to pull back, leaving to work a little later, making time for Torah in the morning, or making sure to leave work (in the very least) at a reasonable hour, to be able to devote time daily to learning.

Remember, that in any event, our rabbis teach us that even if one is poor, but devotes time to Torah, one is destined to devote time to Torah out of having extra time, due to having a plethora of riches.
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