The Essence of Korbanot by Yoni Chambre


              The bulk of Parshat Vayikra is a discussion of the bringing of Korbanot in the Beit Hamikdash.  A question that the average contemporary Jew should then ask himself is what will I learn through the studying of these particular Perakim of the Torah.  This same question can be asked for the bulk of the Sefer, so the question becomes that much more important!

              Rav Shimshon Raphael Hirsch discusses, in his commentary on the Chumash, the problems that arise in translating the word Korbanot.  There is no word in the English language, the German language (for Rav Hirsch), or any other for that matter, that can fully explain what a Korban is.  Some of the most common translations are offerings and sacrifices, and both of these translations are flawed.  A Korban can not be fully described as an offering because Hashem has no need for it, and therefore we really are not offering that much to him.  Sacrifice is flawed because it implies that you do not want to give it, and if you did not want to serve Hashem you should not.  By looking further into the Parsha we see that many provisions are made for the poor and others whom have difficulty bringing Korbanot.

              The essence of the word Korban is Karov, to be close to God.  That must be our ultimate desire.  What could be more worthwhile an accomplishment than closeness to our Lord and creator.  And it is so easy to do! All a Jew in the times of the Beit Hamikdash had to do was follow simple instructions set forth in the Torah regarding how to bring his Korbanot.  He needed to make no sacrifice, and merely had to have the desire to be close to God.  God could demand so much more!  As our Lord and creator it is certainly within his authority to order us to give up all personal goals and do nothing but serve him.  But being the great God of mercy he only demands that we have a desire to bring ourselves close to him, something that we should all aspire to anyway.  So too, in America in the year 1998, we can have this very same desire to bring ourselves close to Hashem.  We can use our knowledge of what our ancestors did and use it as a blueprint for a path to bring ourselves to God.  Through commitment, Talmud Torah and Yirat Shamayim we will bring ourselves to Hashem.

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