Shiur for parashas Vayikra 5781
“When any man of you bringeth an offering unto the L-RD.”
– Leviticus 1:2, JPS 1917 Tanach
The Hebrew word for offering is korban. The shoresh (root word) of korban is KRV, meaning “to draw near.” Therefore, the act of bringing an offering has the connotation of drawing near to H’Shem. According to Akeidas Yitzchak, the olah offering, in particular, represents prayer from the heart, because the olah completely ascends to H’Shem. Therefore, in like manner that the entire animal brought as an olah offering is consumed on the mizbeach (altar), so too, will our prayers of the heart ascend to G-d.
Interestingly enough, the name associated with the korbanot is H’Shem (YHVH), the name that denotes H’Shem’s Attribute of Mercy. Since the korban is not associated with the name, Elokim that represents the Attribute of Justice, the implication is that an offering permits us to draw near to H’Shem, because of His mercy towards us: for, although the world was first created with the Attribute of Justice, denoted by the name Elokim (the name of G-d that first appears in the Creation narrative), later, the name H’Shem (YHVH) appears, because the world could not survive without Mercy (see Rashi, Genesis 1:1).
H’Shem’s Attribute of mercy makes an allowance for reconciliation through atonement, by way of a korban. The first offering was made for mankind by H’Shem, for the sake of Adam and Chava, when they disobeyed Him and ate from the Tree of Good and Evil. Furthermore, He covered them with clothes derived from the offering (see Genesis 3:21). That an offering was indeed made is alluded to by a particular commentary that speaks of the mate of Leviathan being slayed by G-d, in order to clothe Adam and Chava (Chizkuni, R. Bachya, commentary on Genesis 3:21).
Today, in our own lives, without the “covering” of our sins by way of atonement through our own heartfelt repentance, we are left without protection from the harsh winds of judgment. We may be chastised by G-d, until we are brought back to ourselves, and our plight in this world. What do we have to bring to H’Shem, except for ourselves? As Pesach approaches, let us also clean house, taking stock of our souls, and ridding ourselves of the accumulation of chometz (sin) in our lives. Nissan is reckoned as the first of the months on the Hebrew calendar; an opportune time to renew our sense of commitment to H’Shem. Shabbat shalom.