The Complete Teshuva by Rabbi Ezra Wiener


In this week’s Parsha, the Torah discusses the Halachot of the Korban Chatat.  One of these Halachot is that if the Korban Chatat is cooked in an earthenware vessel, the vessel must be broken.  This law is based upon the rule that after the allotted time for eating the Korban has elapsed, any remainder becomes “Notar,” “leftover,” and must be burned.  The taste absorbed into the walls of the vessel is also Notar, and because taste cannot be purged from an earthenware vessel, the vessel must be broken.  However, if the Korban Chatat is cooked in a copper vessel, then the taste of Notar can be purged merely by rinsing and cleaning the vessel, the same way it would be “Kashered” for Kashrut purposes.

Rashi comments that this law applies to all Korbanot, not just to the Korban Chatat.  The Kli Yakar therefore wonders why the Torah chose to discuss the law of absorption of Notar specifically with regard to the Korban Chatat.  If this law in fact applies to all Korbanot, why single out the Korban Chatat to teach this law?  The Kli Yakar suggests that the Chatat is an appropriate choice because it is in the category of Kodshei Kodshim, the holiest Korbanot, which can only be eaten for one day and night.  This teaches that even though the meat of the Korban only remains in the vessel for a short period of time, an earthenware vessel must nonetheless be broken and a copper vessel rinsed and cleaned.  It goes without saying, then, that for Korbenot Shelamim or other Kodshim Kalim, less holy Korbanot, which can be eaten for a full two days, that one must certainly follow the above purging procedure. 

Alternatively, the Kli Yakar suggests that the Chatat is the quintessential symbol of atonement.  Just as the procedure of purging the taste of the Chatat varies depending on the vessel, so too the procedure of purging sin depends on the type of person who has transgressed.  Certain individuals are so involved with sin that a mere rinsing and cleansing is insufficient to achieve purity.  This type of individual is compared to the earthenware vessel, which must be broken to achieve purity.  This sinner must demonstrate the “Shivron Lev,” a total and complete breaking of his heart and a subsequent metamorphosis into a new Jew.  The occasional sinner is compared to the copper vessel in that he can achieve purity with a mere rinsing and cleaning.  He does not need to break his heart entirely since he is generally good anyway.  He does not need to change his entire character to achieve Tehsuva.  May we all be Zocheh to a complete Teshuvah and perfection of our Avodah of the Ribbono Shel Olam. 

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