Hadrash Ve-Haiyun

by the Reisha Rav, HaGoan Rav Aaron Levine TZ"L

Elucidated and Adapted by Efraim Levine


Dedicated in Honor of
Dr. and Mrs. Jerry Blesh and Family
Whose Great Uncle was the Reisha Rav ZT"L

To Dedicate Please Contact Hadrash Ve-Haiyun

Speak to Aaron and his sons saying: This is the law of the sin offering; in the place where the olah-offering is slaughtered shall the sin offering be slaughtered, before Hashem - it is like the holy of holies. (Leviticus 6:18)

 The Gemara in Kidushin (40a) states that with regard to a mitzvah Hashem counts a good intent together with a good deed. However with regard to avairos Hashem does not count a bad intent together with a bad deed. The simple meaning of this dictum requires elucidation. 

Let us suggest the following homiletic interpretation: A complete mitzvah or avairah is comprised of two parts one, the intent and two, the actual deed.  For a mitzvah or avairah to be complete both conditions must be met. However, if only one of the two conditions is present we lack a complete mitzvah or avairah.  Going a step further we may simply assume that even if we were to have two mitzvos, where one manifests only good intent and the other only a deed, both are deficient and all we really have are two incomplete mitzvos. It is also simply assumed that two incomplete mitzvos are far inferior to one complete mitzvah. Conversely, with regard to avairos, if we have two avairous, one manifesting bad intent only and the other a bad deed only, the combination of both is still a lesser transgression than a single avairah that displays the combined conditions.

The Gemara here informs us that this is not completely correct, rather Hashem in His great kindness combines the good intent of one mitzvah with the good deed of another mitzvah to give the combined two mitzvos the potency of a complete mitzvah. However, with regard to avairos, Hashem in His pity does not combine an evil intent of one with the evil deed of another to hold us responsible for the full severity of a single complete avairah, rather they remain as two incomplete avairos and the sinner is spared the complete punishment.

With this interpretation we can now understand our posuk. The posuk is teaching us precisely this point that with regard to avairos Hashem does not combine the evil intent of one avairah together with the evil deed of another.

In order to explain this we first must understand that a karban chatas is brought to atone for unintentional sinful actions only. If there was also evil intent then this sin would be wanton and a karban chatas would not achieve atonement. On the other hand an olah is brought to atone for evil thoughts only, i.e., there was no sinful deed. Now, if Hashem were to combine what the olah is coming to atone for, i.e., evil intent, together with what the chatas is coming to atone for i.e., evil deeds, then the result would be a complete sin for which we could not bring the olah or chatas.  In this regard, the Torah tells us that this is not a problem. Accordingly on the same altar that you sacrifice the olah you may and should sacrifice the chatas because in regard to avairos Hashem does not combine the two together. Rather they remain as two separate inferior sins, which may attain atonement separately though karbanos.

The posuk concludes, "This is the holy of holies." The simple interpretation is that the words holy of holies refers back to the karbanos themselves. However, we may homiletically suggest that it refers back to this concept that they the sin of the olah and chatas do not combine. The posuk is telling us that the ability not to combine one sin with another is a very lofty ideal. It is holy of holy. We mortals subconsciously judge other individuals wrongdoings based on our past experiences with them. Current wrongdoings are always viewed in connection to what we understand of that person from our past experiences with that individual. It is very difficult for us to isolate every seemingly wrong action of an individual from our past experience with him. The ability not to combine unpleasant experiences is dubbed holy of holies. This is an ideal that we must strive for because it is not natural for us to conduct ourselves this way.