The Missing Korban By Chanan Strassman


Parshat Tazria, begins with the laws of childbirth.  Among these laws are the laws of which Korbanot a woman offers after she gives birth to a child.  In 12:6, the Torah says, “Upon the completion of the days of her purity for a son or for a daughter, she shall bring a sheep within its first year for an Olah, and a young dove or turtledove for a Chatat.”  However, there seems to be something missing here.  As Rabbi Riskin points out, there is no Korban Todah mentioned here.  Why is the thanksgiving offering left out?  Is a woman not thankful when she has a baby?

Rabbi Riskin cites Rav Naftali Zvi Yehuda Berlin that the answer can be derived from a famous story in the Tanach. Elijah the Prophet challenged the prophets of the Baal to a “battle of the Gods” on Mount Carmel.  The prophets of the Baal prayed to their god, but were left unanswered.  However, upon calling out to Hashem, a fire came from the heavens and consumed Elijah’s Korban.  The prophets of the Baal were executed and Elijah was a national hero.  Jezebel, the idolatrous Queen of Israel during that time, remarked that she would kill Elijah the very next day.  Why would Jezebel wait until the next day to kill Elijah instead of doing it on the spot?  The reason is simple.  Because he was now a celebrity, there surely would have been an uprising if Jezebel killed Elijah right then and there.  However, by the next day, everyone would have forgotten the miracle Hashem performed for Elijah and everything would have gone back to the way it had been beforehand.  Then, Jezebel could kill Elijah without inciting rebellion.

From this story, we see that it is within the nature of most people to forget our feelings of thanksgiving.  When God does something for us, it is usually appreciated immediately and in the present time.  However, as in the story of Elijah, many times, it is soon forgotten.  A good example would be the Chet HaEgel.  Hashem had just given Bnei Yisrael the greatest gift in the world, His Torah.  Yet, it did not take more than a short 40 days and 40 nights for Bnei Yisrael to sin.

Similarly, the Korban Todah must be eaten on the day that it is brought, at which time, the person is still thankful.  Therefore, it would make sense that the mother should bring a Korban Todah immediately after the child is born, so as not to forget her thankfulness and lose the opportunity to bring the Korban.  However, we see in 12:4 that this is not possible.  The Pasuk says, “For thirty-three days she shall remain in blood of purity; she may not touch anything sacred and she may not enter the Sanctuary until the completion of her days of purity.”  In other words, she may not bring a Korban until the days of her purity have passed.  Since she must wait a while before she may bring a Korban, the mother will forget her feeling of thankfulness, thereby rendering her unqualified to bring a Korban Todah.  Therefore, the Korban Todah is not mentioned as one of the Korbanot that a woman brings after giving birth to a child.

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