Simcha's Torah Stories - Vayikra

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Simcha's Torah Stories

Parshat Vayikra


Boys, the principal is coming in five minutes to speak to the class. Everyone prepare themselves.

The boys rush to straighten up the class and then sit orderly in their seats. The principal arrives and everyone stands up.

Boys, thank you for giving me a few minutes of you time. I know that you are very busy learning, so I will be brief. The director of the old age home across the street asked me if some of our students could come to the old age home to visit with the people there. It would make the elderly people very happy and be a tremendous mitzvah. Therefore, I am asking each boy to sacrifice half an hour of his free time each week to visit with the people in the old age home. Thank you very much. That's all boys.

With that, everyone stands up as the principal leaves.

Half an hour a week is a big sacrifice, Chaim.

I don't think so, Avi. I don't consider it a sacrifice at all.

But you have to give up half an hour.

I'll tell you what I think about that, based on this week's Torah portion, Parshas Vayikra. The Book of Vayikra begins by writing about the sacrifices that were offered up on the altar in the Mishkan (Tabernacle). However, the word sacrifice is misleading. Sacrifice means that you give up something. Even if you receive something in return, it is not as much as you gave. After all, you made a sacrifice. The Hebrew word is "korbon". The root of that word is "karov" to come close. A "korbon" brings a person close.

Close to what?

Close to G-d. By giving of himself, he comes closer to G-d.

How can that be?

Rabbi Eliyahu Dessler, one of the great Rabbis of the past generation explains that you become close to someone by giving them. The biggest proof is parents and children. No one loves children more than their parents do. Why? Because the parents give to them constantly. That creates a bond of love so strong that nothing can break it.

I understand Chaim. If we go to the old age home, we do not sacrifice anything. By giving time and attention to the elderly people there, we will actually gain by becoming close to them.

That's it, Avi. You don't lose by giving; you only gain. A close relationship with someone is one of the most precious things in the whole world. It is well worth the half an hour per week.

Come Chaim. Let's go to the old age home right now. Those elderly need our help. Thank you so much for bringing me close to this mitzvah of getting close to people.

Simcha's Talmudic Quiz


"Look at that thick black smoke."

"Something is burning there at Mr. Wallace's farm. Look it's his haystack."

"Wait a minute. A burning haystack doesn't put out thick black smoke like that. Let's go a little closer to see what is happening."

As the boys approach, they see two men arguing.

"You'll pay for this. I had ten radial tires hidden in that haystack. They are worth almost a thousand dollars."

"You had no business hiding tires in a haystack. I will happily pay for your haystack. After all, I was negligent by letting it catch on fire. But I can't be responsible for your radial tires. You should have stored them in a more protected place."

The question is, does the man who burned the haystack pay for the radial tires?

(This puzzle is from Tractate Bava Kamma, page 61b).



"It's your fault!"

"No it is not. You should have been more careful."

"What's going on here? What are you two arguing about?"

"Do you see this box of broken pottery? He has to pay for it."


"We were walking along, he was first and I was behind him. Suddenly, he tripped and fell down. I tripped over him and fell. I dropped this box of pottery that I was helderlying and everything broke. Now he must pay for it. If he hadn't fallen first, I would not have tripped over him."

"You are responsible for your own falling. You should have watched where you were going. I don't have to pay for anything."

The question is who pays for the broken pottery and why.

(This puzzle is from Tractate Bava Kamma, page 31a).

The Answer is:

The Mishna itself rules that the first man who fell must pay for the damages to the second man who tripped over him. The question is why?

  1. Rebbe Meir helderlys the first man responsible for tripping and falling. People have a responsibility to not fall when they are walking.

  2. Rebbe Yochanan says that even if the first man is not held responsible for falling, he is held responsible for not getting up out of the way in time. He waited too long on the ground.

  3. Rav Nachman Bar Yitzchak says that even if he did not have enough time to get up, he should have warned the second man that he had fallen. Rebbe Yochanan's response to that is that if he did not have enough time to get up, he could not have warned the second man because he was too busy recovering from the fall.
The Mechaber in Shulchan Aruch Choshen Mishpat 413:1 rules like Rebbe Yochanan, that if the first man did have the time to get up, and he did not, then he is responsible. If he did not have the time to get up, then he is not responsible for warning the man behind him.

The Rema writes that some say that he is responsible for warning if he had the time to warn.

However, both the Mechaber and the Rema agree that all of this only applies to bodily damages. We learn from a verse in the Torah that damages of this sort on the property of the second man are exempt from payment.

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