acharei mos

This Shabbos we read Parshas Acharai Mos. It is also Shabbos Hagodal, the name given for the Shabbos before Passover. The name Shabbos Hagodal – “the great Shabbos” – is given in reference to the great miracle that occurred when the Jews left Egypt. That year, the tenth of Nissan was on a Shabbos, and the Jews were told by Hashem to take the sheep that they would slaughter for the Paschal lamb and prepare it. This was a great miracle, for the Egyptians worshiped the lamb as their deity, and certainly were very upset as the Jews prepared to slaughter the lambs. The fact that this was done in front of them and that they were powerless to stop the Jews was a great miracle. The commentaries explain that the timing of this miracle was deliberate. Hashem wanted the Jews to have a merit to be able to leave Egypt, so He told them to take the deity of the Egyptians to slaughter, even though this was a very dangerous thing to do. The merit of the entire Jewish people risking their lives to do this mitzvah gave them the zechus – the merit to be redeemed from Egypt. As we prepare for to relive the Exodus of Egypt every year, we begin by recalling and trying to feel ready to dedicate ourselves to do the mitzvohs even when we must sacrifice to do so.

In the Haftorah of Shabbos Hagodal we read a famous verse – “Varva Lehashem Minchas Yehuda V’Yirushalayim – And it will be sweet to Hashem the mincha offering of Judah and Jerusalem… (Milachei 3:4) This verse is said three times a day at the end of each Amidah. What is the mincha offering that we talk about? A mincha offering is an offering made of flour and oil, with no sacrifice necessarily being brought. What is the significance of a mincha offering being sweet to Hashem more than other sacrifices? The Meshech Chochma explains that that the Hebrew word Masuk and the Hebrew word Arva both mean in general terms, sweet. Yet, they are different types of sweetness. Masuk is something that is inherently sweet, such as sugar. Arva refers to something that is sweet because the ingredients of the mixture sweeten each other.

A mincha offering has a very interesting detail to it. A single individual may bring a mincha sacrifice. However, a group may not join together to bring a group mincha offering. This is derived from the verse that tells us that a nefesh – one soul – can bring the mincha offering (Leviticus 2:1). Although a group cannot bring a mincha offering together, the entire Jewish people can bring a mincha offering together. Why is that? The obvious idea is that when we unite we are considered as one soul. This is the idea of the verse of the Haftorah: Varva LeHashem – the sweetness to Hashem will be when Jews unite together to bring a mincha offering – when they stand as one unified group that sweetens each other. May we soon witness that day in our times!!!!!