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Behind the Korbanot

By: SFW Students & Alumna
Esther Coren (SFW 08)

This week we start our third sefer and with it, we have so many new things to learn.

At first look, one may feel that the parshah is very repetitive and detailed. But at a closer look, we can realize that there is so much to learn from the process of the korbanot, and that the Torah is teaching us here the level of their importance.


The four types of animal offerings described are Olah (burnt offering), Shelamim (peace offering), Chatas (sin offering) and Asham (guilt offering).


The root of the word Korban is Karev which means to draw near. When offering up a korban, a person is bringing an animal closer to Hashem.  Furthermore, by bringing a sacrifice, including selecting an animal or offering, bringing it to the Beit Hamikdash, confessing over it and watching the kohanim offer it, and then eating some of it; this helps to bring the person closer to G-d. The idea of a korban is to deepen the relationship between the owner and G-d.


Just as bringing a korban causes a person to become close to Hashem, so too there are opposite forces present in the world which try to separate this special bond.

The four kingdoms: Bavel, Madai, Yavan and Edom are the 4 kingdoms who have caused pain to Israel throughout their history. These four countries have each tried to destroy some aspect of Bnei Yisrael’s nature. Bavel destroyed the first Beit Hamikdash, Madai followed Bavel with oppressions at time of Purim, Yavan attacked Klal Yisrael at the time of Chanukah and Edom destroyed the second Beit Hamikdash. Each one of these nations has attempted to destroy the relationship between Bnei Yisrael and Hashem in some way.


Klal Yisrael’s purpose is to bring Hashem’s presence into the world through Mitzvah and Torah observance. Each of these nations tries to prevent this purpose.


Furthermore, there are three cardinal sins which a Jew is required to die for: Murder, Sexual immorality and idol worship, and lashon hora is seen as worse than all of these put together.  Each of these nations specialized in one of these four cardinal sins and was the root of the primary source of its existence in this world.  But Klal Yisrael had great personalities who managed to overcome these cardinal sins.


When Avraham went to Egypt with Sarah he overcame the sin of sexual immorality.  Yitzchak managed to overcome the sin of idolatry by being prepared to sacrifice himself. Yaakov overcame the sin of murder. David Hamelech had the highest use of the power of speech as he is known as the composer of tehillim. Had David not listened to lashon hora, everything would have gone to plan and the redemption process would have been completed.


As the avot and David Hamelech were the greatest experts in overcoming these forces, we must emulate them as much as possible in order to achieve our own personal spiritual development, and when bringing each korban think about the importance of overcoming these sins and being victorious over the nations.


May we all try extra hard to emulate these positive attributes and make them an important aspect of our world so that we may merit to offer up karbanot to Hashem, bimhera veyameinu; by offering up not just animals but by bringing our whole self to Hashem, and by being a complete giver for the purpose of serving Hashem and bringing His presence into the world with our full existence.





Categorized under: 1: Parshat Shavua > Vayikra