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אשר נשיא יחטא

When a ruler sins. (4:22)

Rashi explains the word asher, as related to ashrei, fortunate: “Praised/fortunate is the generation whose leader is bold/courageous enough to offer penance/korban/offering for his shegagah, inadvertent sin; kal v’chomer, how much more so, if he is prepared to show remorse/ regret over his willful sin.” It is a rare leader who does not conceal his error, who does not hide behind his exalted office, often denying that he committed an error in judgment or had a lapse in his spiritual relationship with Hashem, one who proclaims, Chatasi, “I have sinned.” This is unfortunately a rare phenomenon, but this alone is…

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ואם זבח שלמים קרבנו

If his offering is a feast peace-offering. (3:1)

A Korban Shelamim is unique in that it is self-motivated, brought voluntarily, because a person has been moved to express his gratitude to Hashem for favors granted, and to enhance his closeness with Him. Shelamim is derived from shaleim, wholeness, perfection and shalom, peace. It increases good will, since so many people – the Kohanim, the family and friends of the donor – participate in its consumption. Ramban focuses on the relationship of the Shelamim with sheleimus, wholeness. He observes that the donor who offers a Shelamim is doing so freely, not to atone for an infraction on his part….

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אשה ריח ניחוח לד'

A satisfying aroma to Hashem. (1:9)

The service comes to its conclusion as the aroma of the offering rises up in smoke to Hashem. This pleases Hashem because, as Chazal (Sifra, cited by Rashi) explain, “I have spoken, and My will has been carried out.” Hashem certainly is not into aroma, nor does He require offerings. We do not understand the esoteric rationale behind korbanos, offerings. We do understand, however, that when Hashem commands – we respond by executing to His will. What could be more pleasing than having one’s will carried out to perfection. Indeed, the Talmud (Menachos 110a) teaches: “The term ishei reiach nichoach…

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ואם נפש אחת תחטא בשגגה מעם הארץ

If an individual person from among the people of the land shall sin unintentionally. (4:27)

The sin-offering of a yachid, individual, which is brought for an inadvertent sin (for a mitzvah whose intentional prohibition carries the punishment of Heavenly excision, kares), is always a beast (female goat or sheep) and does not vary up and down (oleh v’yoreid) according to the wealth or poverty of the one who sinned.  The Sefer HaChinuch explains the shoresh ha’mitzvah, root of the commandment, as in all korbanos, to abase and bring the sinner to humility over the sin which he committed.  As Shlomo HaMelech says in Mishlei (16:18), “Pride precedes destruction, and arrogance comes before failure.”  Humility is…

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והיה כי יחטא ואשם והשיב את הגזילה אשר גזל

So it shall be when he will sin and become guilty, he shall return the robbed item that he robbed. (5:23)

The thief brings his guilt-offering only after he has appeased the victim by returning the stolen goods.  Hashem’s forgiveness follows after the thief has made his peace with his victim.  Everyone wants to be observant, repent and return to good, spiritual standing.  Hashem is not interested in pardoning one who has no respect for the feelings of his fellow Jew.  Furthermore, one who steals indicates that he has no faith in Hashem’s ability to provide for his needs.  By his very actions, such a person demonstrates that he is more concerned with his own needs than with the feelings of…

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אדם כי יקריב מכם קרבן

When a man among you brings an offering. (1:2)

The word korban is derived from karov, close/near.  A korban brings us closer to Hashem.  The Navi Hoshea (6:6) states, “For I (Hashem) wanted chesed, acts of lovingkindness, and not a korban.”  Chesed is being presented as being on par with korbanos, but also as being better than korbanos.  Chesed brings about atonement, but chesed has an advantage that exceeds the korban effect.  Maharal (Nesivos Olam/Nesiv Gemilus Chassadim) explains that chesed elevates a person, granting him a higher level of spirituality, while a korban does not.  As Horav Tzvi Kushelevsky, Shlita, puts it: “Chesed elevates a person above his natural…

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אדם כי יקריב מכם קרבן

When a man among you brings an offering. (1:2)

Unlike pagan offerings and the “dogma” surrounding that form of worship, korbanos which are mandated by Hashem are not meant to influence the Almighty.  Pagan sacrifice was meant to appease their pantheon of gods and other imaginary idol figures.  Humans were taught to believe that by offering various forms of sacrifices to the gods, they would succeed in dissipating his anger.  How fortunate are we that we have been blessed with minds that comprehend that such an idea is ludicrous. When we distance ourselves from Hashem through sin, we must seek an avenue of return, a medium for narrowing the…

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לא ישים עליה שמן ולא יתן עליה לבנה כי חטאת היא

He shall not place oil on it nor shall he place frankincense on it, for it’s a sin-offering. (5:11)

The plain meal offering for a chatas, sin (offering), was brought for specific sins. This korban is part of the Korban Oleh v’yoreid, variable sin-offering, class, which is a dispensation to provide one who is poor the opportunity to atone for his sin with a korban. The variable korban is comprised of either a sheep or a goat, two turtledoves or two young doves, or, in the event that one has no funds, a tenth of an eiphah of flour. While oil and frankincense are put on all other meal offerings, the chatas receives no embellishment of oil or frankincense, since…

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והיה כי יאשם לאחת מאלה והתודה אשר חטא עליה

When one shall become guilty regarding one of these matters, he shall confess what he has sinned. (5:5)

Horav S.R. HIrsch, zl, observes that in addressing the concept of vidui, confession regarding a sin, the Torah uses the word, v’hisvadah, which (loosely translated) means, “he shall confess,” but should really be translated, “he shall confess (acknowledge) to himself.” Hisvadah is hispaeil, reflexive form, that denotes a confession of guilt pointed at oneself. The sinner is not expected to “make confession” (as they do in other religions), certainly not to G-d, Who knows everything. He does not require our confession to make Him aware of our sins. It is to himself that the sinner must admit that he “missed…

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אדם כי יקריב מכם קרבן לד'

When a man among you brings an offering to Hashem. (1:2)

Without a Bais Hamikdash where we can offer korbanos, offerings, we rely on our tefillos, prayers, to take the place of these korbanos. As such, our tefillos must be on the madreigah, spiritual plateau, of korbanos. The Sefer HaChinuch (Parashas Terumah, mitzvah of constructing the Mishkan) explains that korbanos, like the Mishkan, availed the Jew the opportunity to express himself to Hashem in a tangible manner. Thus, when a person sinned and brought a korban as penance, he was not getting by with a perfunctionary, Chatasi, “I sinned. I am sorry.” Rather, he offered a korban, an animal which would…

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