Audio: TTA for Parshat Vayikra and the Pre-Purim Fast of Esther

Multi-Faceted T'shuva - TTA for Parshat Vayikra and the Preponed Fast Day of Esther.
3/6/2014, 9:43 PM

A7 Radio's "Torah Tidbits Audio" with Phil Chernofsky
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Most of the content of Parshat Vayikra is general information and details about Korbanot (as, we hope, you have reviewed (or will review) with the Aliya-by-Aliya Sedra Summary that follows. However, the last six p'sukim of the sedra are a bit more specific. The topic is stealing - in various forms, i.e. keeping something that belongs to someone else that came into your hands legally, defrauding, not returning a found object, and more. The text also deals with compounding one's offense be lying and/or swearing falsely to cover up one's theft. Here is not the place for the details - there are many, not just in the final part of the sedra, but in the various Codes of Halacha which help us live Torah lives. Here, as the title of this Lead Tidbit indicates, we would like to present the different aspects of making amends for theft, in particular, and for interpersonal sins, in general. The Torah speaks of making restitution when one have taken or kept something that belongs to someone else. In fact, the Torah commands it with one of the more unusual mitzvot among the Torah's Taryag, the 613 mitzvot. We refer to the positive mitzva of Returning that which one has stolen - V'HEISHIV ET HAG'ZEILA ASHER GAZAL. The Torah specifies not only what one has stolen, but also the proceeds of fraud and the lost item that one should have, but didn't return to its rightful owner. Making restitution need not have been a Mitzva. It would be fairly obvious that one who wants to repent his deeds would need to give back what he took. The fact that it is a mitzva serves as an added incentive to T'shuva and highlights the significance of the sin and of its repair. Be very clear, the Torah does not just require giving back. There are situations when a korban is required too. One might ask why that is necessary if the damage was repaired by restitution. The answer is significant for many different sins, not just theft. Every sin against someone else is simultaneously a sin against G-d. The traditional distinction between Bein Adam LaMakom (between the person and G-d) and Bein Adam LaChaveiro (interpersonal) is (if we may be so bold as to say it) a misleading misnomer. There ain't no such thing! We have areas of mitzvot that are between the person and G-d alone, and other areas that are between the person and G-d and other people. To completely repent and repair and interpersonal issue, one needs to compensate the injured party AND to appease him, asking for personal forgiveness AND one needs to deal with G-d as well. Not easy, but...

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Phil Chernofsky is the educational director of the Orthodox Union's OU Israel Center in Jerusalem and editor of the Torah Tidbits parsha pamphlet. Since 1998, he has hosted Torah Tidbits Audio, a shiur on the weekly parsha with witty insights. It airs every Thursday from 7:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Israel time and is downloadable as a podcast on Israel National Radio. Phil made Aliyah to Israel over 30 years ago. He is the author of the newly released book And Every Single One Was Someone, a tribute to victims of the Holocaust.
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