Our Real Priorities by Jason Pruzansky


              There is a famous dispute between the Ramban and the Rambam regarding the meaning behind all the different animal sacrifices described in Vayikra.  In his Moreh Nevuchim, the Rambam states that the sacrifices mentioned in the Torah have as their precursor the general sentiments of the time to bring sacrificial offerings, and Hashem elevated those sentiments through the Mitzvot of the sacrifices.  However, the Ramban strongly disagrees and states that no Mitzva is a reaction to a generally accepted, standardized form of worship.  He emphasizes the need to accept Hashem's Mitzvot as original on not the products of, or the concessions to human frailty. 

              Perhaps one can understand the Rambam's view as underscoring the importance of sacrifices in human terms.  For a sacrifice to be important, one must give of himself that which is important.  Thus, Kayin's jealousy of Hevel in Sefer Breishit was the result of Hevel's ability to give everything he had to Hashem through the medium of a sacrificial offering.  Kayin could not bring himself to do the same.  The Rambam is reminding us that through a Korban (whose Hebrew root word is Karov, close) we can achieve closeness to Hashem.  Recognizing that everything belongs to Hashem tells us that we must give over, we must sacrifice, that which is meaningful rather than that which is insignificant. 

              Especially as Pesach draws closer, we need to rededicate our efforts to be part of God's world.  We live in a society too riddled with divisiveness and pettiness.  We recall through our daily prayers which are a commemoration of the Korbanot of old, the importance of Hashem's world, and the Exodus from Egypt.  We must not allow ourselves to wrapped in our own obsessions, and instead appreciate the potential each of us has to become close to Hashem.

Chametz in God's Hand by Eli Feldblum

The Essence of Korbanot by Yoni Chambre