For private communication, write to eliezer(no space)e at aol

Monday, March 14, 2011

Tzav: Drasha for Sheva Brachos (#4) The Korban for Newlyweds.

This is Drush, and not intended for analysis with scalpels.

Rabbeinu Bachay in Parshas Tzav says (second column sixteen lines from the bottom) that newlyweds bring a Korban Todah.   He says that anyone that experiences a special joyous event should bring a Korban Todah, and in particular he says that a Chassan and Kallah should bring this korban.  Most importantly, Rabbeinu Bachaya is telling us that when the passuk in Yirmiahu (33:11-12) says that people will once again  bring the Korban Todah, it is referring to the beginning of the passuk that talks about the joy of the Chasan and Kallah, and the passuk means that Chassanim and Kallos used to- and someday soon will again bring- a Korban Todah.
כֹּה אָמַר ה, עוֹד יִשָּׁמַע בַּמָּקוֹם הַזֶּה אֲשֶׁר אַתֶּם אֹמְרִים חָרֵב הוּא מֵאֵין אָדָם וּמֵאֵין בְּהֵמָה בְּעָרֵי יְהוּדָה  וּבְחֻצוֹת יְרוּשָׁלִַם, הַנְשַׁמּוֹת מֵאֵין אָדָם וּמֵאֵין יוֹשֵׁב, וּמֵאֵין בְּהֵמָה.   קוֹל שָׂשׂוֹן וְקוֹל שִׂמְחָה, קוֹל חָתָן וְקוֹל כַּלָּה, קוֹל אֹמְרִים הוֹדוּ אֶת ה' צְבָאוֹת כִּי טוֹב ה' כִּי לְעוֹלָם חַסְדּוֹ מְבִאִים תּוֹדָה בֵּית ה:, 

I understand that the exuberant Chasan and Kallah would sing  הוֹדוּ אֶת ה צְבָאוֹת כִּי טוֹב ה כִּי לְעוֹלָם חַסְדּוֹ.  But the idea that Chasan and Kallah bring a Korban Todah is interesting, because we usually associate the korban with having survived some mortal danger.  The Gemara (Brachos 54b,  and see Rambam 10 Brachos 8 and OC 219:1) specifies four people who are obligated to bring this korban, and all are people who were saved from danger.  In fact, this idea is reflected in our Tefilla.  One who was saved from this type of danger makes the Bracha Birkas Hagomel.  For general celebration, you can bring a shlamim or an olah, and the appropriate bracha is She'hechiyanu.  So it's interesting that Rabbeinu Bachay says that a Korban Todah is brought to celebrate a joyous occasion.  More importantly, why does Rabbeinu Bachay single out being newly married as the archetypal circumstance of bringing the Korban Todah?

The Gemara (Sota 2a) says אמר ר' יוחנן וקשין לזווגן כקריעת ים סוף שנאמר (תהילים סח) אלהים מושיב יחידים ביתה מוציא אסירים בכושרות, marrying people off is as "hard" as splitting the sea, as it says in Tehillim, G-d settles the solitary in a house; He frees those who are bound in "Kosharos," shackles.  (Rashi in Sotah, expanding on the interpretation of the verse as referring to the redemption from Mitzrayim, says that Kosharos means a season that is temperate, neither hot nor cold, because the geula from Mitzrayim was in the Springtime.)  The Gemara sees in this passuk a connection between marriage- "G-d settles the solitary in a house"- and the redemption from Egypt, "He frees those who are bound in shackles."  Thus, the Gemara equates a successful marriage and the splitting of the sea.

Rashi explains that the miracle of marriage is taking a boy, a yachid, and a girl, a yechida, and creating from these yechidim a completely new home, a new kingdom, and this is a miracle comparable to the splitting of the sea.  The ability of individuals to willingly and successfully cede their independence to a new mutual identity is only possible with divine assistance.

Although the Gemara focuses on the aspect of divine intervention- krias yam suf, one can see in the Gemara another thought.  The passuk is also telling us that that getting married is similar to being freed from a prison Motzi assirim.  In what sense is that true?  

Until someone is married, he is imprisoned by limited emotional horizons.  He suffers from the astigmatism of egotism; he has no idea what it means to care for someone else more than he cares for himself, he lacks the basic understanding of what it means to be a fully realized human being, he is in danger of being emotionally stunted, a Wagnerian Nibelung.  So, despite the Orwellian undertone, getting married really is like being liberated from prison.  

As the Netziv says, the Korban Todah is brought על שנחלץ מצרה; literally, the word צרה means travail, but it is related to the word צר which means tight and constrained.  So the best translation would be that the korban is brought on the occasion of "release from confinement."  That is certainly an apt description of marriage.    נחלץ מצרה means that he was granted expansion, an expansion that unbound him from his isolated strait.

That sentence deserves to be emphasized.   על שנחלץ מצרה means that he was unbound from his strait of isolation.  This is the foundation of the Korban Todah, and it is a perfect description of what marriage can give us.

GS point out that Rashi in Vayishlach, by Machalas bas Yishmael, brings the Yerushalmi that "Chasan mochlin lo."   If so, he says, the chasan certainly ought to bring a korban Todah.  So for one thing, he was spared the onshim of his aveiros.  Secondly, a spiritual hatzala is comparable to a physical hatzala.  (Similar to Megilla 14, where the Gemara says a kal vachomer, if from avdus to cheirus you say Shira, KV from death to life, so Chazal were kovei'a Megillas Esther as part of Kisvei HaKodesh.)

As I mentioned above, the classic use of the Korban Todah is for a person that has has one of the following four experiences:  These can be remembered with the mnemonic Chayim, חיים..  That is, Chavush/freed from prison; ; Yeshurim/recovered from illness; Yam/returned from an ocean voyage; and Midbar/returned from travel in the desert.  Homiletically, one might say that all the elements of obligation for the Korban Todah are present when one gets married.  He was a is a choleh, because if a person doesn’t get married, the Gemara says (Kiddushin 29b), he deteriorates physically (tipach.)  He is like a traveler in the desert, as Hashem said that He remembers the love of our first relationship, when we followed Him into the desert, zacharti lach...lechteich acharai bamidbar, the willingness to risk everything because you love and trust your spouse..  He is like a prisoner freed from jail, because he has freed himself from the emotional prison of yechidus.  And he is like one who has returned from a sea voyage, because after the long and lonely odyssey as he searched, he has finally come into his home port.

In our time, a person who survives a danger stands at the Bimah (or a woman does this at home with a minyan) and makes the Bracha Hagomel.  One could support the notion that a Chassan and Kallah should do the same.  Of course, there is no such minhag.  But certainly, when they say Modim in Shmoneh Esrei, they should express their gratitude to Hashem for bringing them together and helping to create a new household.  It doesn't hurt to also have your marriage in mind when you say "Sim Shalom."

Note:  Besides the Korban Todah, in the time of the Beis Hamikdash, a Chassan would come to the Beis Hamikdash especially on Shabbos, because on the east side of the structure there was a gate made of white glass through which only newlywed men would enter.  When people would see a man come in through that gate, they would all bless him, saying "He Who dwells in this house, may he bless you with sons and daughters!"  (From Pirkei D'Rebbi Eliezer 17.  Although there is no mention of this gate in the Mishna in the first perek of Middos, which enumerates and describes all the entrances to the Beis Hamikdash, it is mentioned in Maseches Sofrim 19:12.)  As it says in Pirkei D'Rebbi Eliezer, even though now we have no Beis Hamikdash, we should do the same when the Chassan comes to Shul on Shabbos.

הנכנס בשער חתנים היו יודעים בו שהוא חתן והיו אומרים לו השוכן בבית הזה יברכך בבנים ובבנות


Anonymous said...

Assuming R Bachya is limiting his insight to a man marrying for the first time then I would suggest as follows
Marrying is not dissimilar to other reasons that one is obligated to bring a korbanos Todah We know that a chosen is considered to have his own personal Yom Kippur on his wedding day and is also considered to attain a kapparah for his avers that preferred his wedding He thus brings a korbanos as a means of recognizing that he has attained kaporah and is spared the onshin he may have previously deserved His spiritual hatzolah is no less a reason for thanksgiving than his physical Hatzalah

b said...

Good. Chasan mochlin lo, Rashi in Vayishlach by Machalas bas Yismael, also someone who is oleh ligdula and a geir. Geir brings a korban anyway, and the guy who gets appointed to a position of authority over his fellow Jews doesn't need a korban. He IS the korban.

Anonymous said...

Can you please cite where exactly this statement of R Bachya appears? I looked thru Parshas Tzav and couldn't locate it. Thank you.

b said...

I was going to say that you have to say please, but then I noticed you had already. Fine.
second column, sixteen lines from the bottom.
If you don't like what Rabbeinu Bachay says, you can just quote the passuk he brings from Yirmiahu 33:11, that says
כֹּה אָמַר ה, עוֹד יִשָּׁמַע בַּמָּקוֹם הַזֶּה אֲשֶׁר אַתֶּם אֹמְרִים חָרֵב הוּא מֵאֵין אָדָם וּמֵאֵין בְּהֵמָה בְּעָרֵי יְהוּדָה וּבְחֻצוֹת יְרוּשָׁלִַם, הַנְשַׁמּוֹת מֵאֵין אָדָם וּמֵאֵין יוֹשֵׁב וּמֵאֵין בְּהֵמָה. יא קוֹל שָׂשׂוֹן וְקוֹל שִׂמְחָה, קוֹל חָתָן וְקוֹל כַּלָּה, קוֹל אֹמְרִים הוֹדוּ אֶת ה צְבָאוֹת כִּי טוֹב ה כִּי לְעוֹלָם חַסְדּוֹ, מְבִאִים תּוֹדָה בֵּית ה

What you see from the passuk, especially how Rabbeinu B learns it, is that they used to bring a korban torah when they got married.

Good luck on your drasha. I would appreciate it if you would tell me how it went and how you said it, but I don't expect to hear from you again, since you don't need me any more.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the mar'eh makom, and for taking the time and effort to even find it online for me. I'll let you know how it went bl'n. PLEASE don't be so cynical :).

b said...

You've already done more than most. My favorite was a bar nash who desperately needed a drasha for his brother, a Bar Mitzva Bachur, who someone promised to write a drasha for but didn't deliver. After considerable back and forth, he had an excellent drasha, and that was the last time I heard from either of them.

Speaking of Korban Todah, Ben Sira has a passuk relevant to this issue that goes
כב) בני נצור עיתך והישמר מאוון, ולא תבוש מתת תודה.
(כג) כי יש בושה לחטאת תימנה, ויש בושה לצדקה תחשב.

b said...

Ladies and Gentlemen, here is a classic example of the hava amina that a bracha rishona is deoraysa. That is, the hakaras hatov you have when you are about to use something is much greater than after you used it.

Anonymous said...

My apologies for the delay, the hurricane over Shabbos knocked out power til Monday morning and it slipped my mind til now, as life has been busy.

As it turned out, I only briefly mentioned the R Bachya in my remarks on Shabbos; I may use it again soon more extensively.

And I will bl'n update you at that time.

PLEASE stop being so cynical, even as I enjoy your lomdish cyncism. One bad experience shouldn't effect you like that.

b said...

I appreciate your having written. If you bump into Tzvi Berkowitz, Sheftl Newberger, Moshe Nochum Sochechewsky, Asher (Lemashcha) Rosenberg, or Mendy Greenfield, tell them that a contemporary says hello.

Yaacov said...

You talk about the korban Toda, and then revert to Korban Tamid?
Please could you clarify for me

Eliezer Eisenberg said...

I rely on eagle eyed readers like you for proofreading. Why anyone would be on Havolim when I've moved to Beis Vaad is a mystery, though.