With the Whole Nation in Mind by Dan Atwood


At the beginning of VaYikra (1:2), the Pasuk introduces Korbanot with the words, “Adam Ki Yakriv Mikem Korban LaHashem,” “When a man will bring a Korban to Hashem.”  Later (4:1), the Pasuk introduces the Korban Chatat, the sin offering, “VeNefesh Ki Techeta,” “When a soul will sin.”  We see from these Pesukim that man is made of two parts.  One is the Adam, derived from Adamah, ground.  This represents man’s earthly desires and his materialistic side.  The second aspect of man is his Nefesh (soul), which represents his spirituality and closeness to Hashem.  When one dies, the Adam returns to the ground and the Neshamah goes to be close with Hashem.  During Techiyat HaMeitim, the Neshamah will return to elevate and purify the Adam.

In his famed book, Ohr Yahel, Rav Leib Chasmon asks: if the Adam pushes us to sin and the Nefesh pulls us close to Hashem, then why by Korbanot does the Pasuk say “Adam,” and by sin say “Nefesh?”  The root word of Korban is Karov, close, which is represented by Nefesh, not Adam!

Rav Chasmon answers that the Torah is trying to teach us that both halves are always present.  When we go to sin, we have to drag along the Nefesh and degrade it through the horrible experience.  However, the opposite is also true.  When we bring a Korban, the Adam is uplifted and sanctified.

This is similar to an idea of Rabbi Mordechai Kamenetzky.  He writes that the juxtaposition of the words Adam and Mikem in the Pasuk is there to show us that Adam, a single man, and Mikem, the greater community, are as one.  When a single man does an action, whether good or bad, he affects everyone.  One man can be responsible for the whole nation.

Both views on this Pasuk present a similar message.  When we do an action, we must have in mind that we affect much more than just ourselves.  If we sin, our Neshamah is brought down and the nation is punished.  Alternatively, if we bring a Korban and come closer to Hashem, then our whole body and the whole nation are rewarded and exalted.  Hopefully, we will soon realize this message so we can be Zoche to bring Korbanot to once again uplift not only our bodies, but also all of Klal Yisrael.

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