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Vayikra: When a Man Sacrifices His Body and Soul

Published on Friday March 15th, 2019

In the Parsha of Vayikra (1: 2) it is written, "When a man from [among] you brings a sacrifice to the Lord; from animals, from cattle or from the flock you shall bring your sacrifice”.

Rabbi Avraham Yehoshua Heschel of Apta (the author of Ohev Israel) suggests a literal reading of the following  verse: Adam ki yakriv mikem - when a man is ready to sacrifice himself body and soul to divine service; he enters the dimension of korban l’Hashem (an offering to God) and it is considered that he sacrificed his own blood and his own flesh in honor of the Creator.

On the other hand, min habeema, min habakar or min hatson - one who is content to offer a monetary contribution but is not willing to sacrifice his soul to the glory of God, will witness a diminution of the quality of his sacrifice, thus called as korbanchem (your offering), an offering of lesser value than the korban l’Hashem (Parparaot Latorah).

The Maggid of Dubno Illustrated this Concept by Means of a Parable:

A shepherd forgot to carry his knapsack and felt famished. So he abandoned his flock and treated himself to a hearty meal in a nearby inn. Back in the fields, he noticed that his flock had disappeared and questioned the local farmers about the flock’s whereabouts. The farmers informed him that the animals had escaped from their pens and had invaded the city minister’s magnificent rose garden, which had been totally ransacked by his sheep. Upon hearing about this, the minister ordered that the entire flock be confiscated.

Engulfed by remorse, the shepherd sat in the main square, burying his face in his hands. Noticing the shepherd’s distress, a city elder approached him and recounted a similar case which had occurred some years before. The shepherd, a wise man, had offered the minister a luscious cake while presenting him his most sincere apology. The minister had later agreed to return the flock to him.

The idea pleased our shepherd who decided to launch a similar strategy as his predecessor. He bought a very luscious cake and made his way to the prince's home. Unfortunately, the prince was not at home and the shepherd was told he was currently on the move. Hastily, the shepherd placed his offering on the minister's table, broke into his stable and rescued his flock.

A few days later, he was convoked to the minister's house:

"How did you dare take your flock back? He asked him.

"Your honor," replied the shepherd. I brought you a cake like another shepherd did before me in a similar case.

Silly man that you are! exclaimed the minister. Do you think I'm short of means to buy myself a cake? That shepherd you mentioned kneeled before me and I accepted his apology. The cake was only concrete proof of his submission! As for you, you believe to have bought my pardon with a present, but you have not expressed any remorse! That's why you do not deserve to get your flock back. "

Likewise, concludes the Maggid of Dubno, when a man offers a sacrifice, the Holy One, blessed be He, desires not the flesh of the animal but a sincere and remorseful heart, coupled with submission and humility, as in the case of the first shepherd.

Rav David HADDAD - © Torah-Box Account

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