Personal Korbanot by Shmuel Katz


Seifer VaYikra is known as being Sefer HaKorbanot and Avodat HaKohanim. The big question that arises is what is the purpose of Korbanot? Why does Hashem need us to sacrifice animals for him? We look at the word Korban and see that the Shoresh, the root word, is Kareiv which can also mean bring close to. So, how does sacrificing animals bring us close to Hashem? Rambam states (Mora Nevuchim 3:32 ) “…[The purpose of Korbanot is] to further us from Avodah Zarah, idolatry. We know that the Mitzrim worshiped animals. So what they were using for idle worship, we use for the purpose of bringing ourselves closer to Hashem. 

Making a sacrifice is something very personal. That’s why it’s called Kareiv, the personal part brings us progressively closer to Hashem. We read the Pasuk(VaYikra 1:2) “Adam Ki Yakriv Mikem Korban” “when any man brings from yourselves a Korban.” What is the Mikem adding? The challenge is not just to have the Korban be brought, it is ideally to bring it yourself and put some of your being and soul into the Korban. We learn from this that whenever a person gives up his body’s desires that deed is like giving a Korban. 

An old adage goes “It’s better to give then to receive.” We all know this to be true that when you give of yourself, whether it be a financial or of a personal sacrifice, you feel a much stronger connection to that person. On that Sunday morning when you get up and walk a few blocks to Shul it is as if you are bringing a Korban, you are overriding your body desires and putting them aside and putting Hashem first. While the neurotransmitters in your brain may be sending messages that your body wants to sleep more, you somehow overcome that desire and Yetzer HaRa and pull yourself out of bed to go to Shul, putting Hashem first.

Similarly, when a soldier fights for his country he feels afterwards a much greater connection to his country. There are many stories of soldiers risking their lives to save others and then later on being the godfather of their children. We read from a Mishnah in Pirkei Avot (2:4) make Hashem’s will your will, and only then will Hashem make your will His will. In other words, we must want to get up early for Minyan, and not do it because we are told to or because we feel we have to.  What we come to realize is that we are the ones that ultimately gain from these “sacrifices”, not Hashem.  At the end of the day, we lose nothing by giving ourselves wholly to Hashem, but in fact the opposite, we progressively become a better, more wholesome person, and of course become closer to Hashem with each passing day.

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