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אדם כי יקריב מכם קרבן

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

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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 korbanosChesed 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 earthliness by allowing him to emulate Hashem when he performs kindness to others.”  In other words, a korban atones; chesed causes a person to grow.  Furthermore, when one performs acts of chesed, he achieves greater connectivity with Hashem.  When one connects with the Ruler of the kingdom, the forces that want to take him down desist out of fear of offending the Ruler.  So, too, when one emulates Hashem by performing chesed, he becomes one of His people.  The forces of evil and impurity leave him alone.

The Maharal (Netzach Yisrael 36) writes that one who attaches himself to Torah and chesed becomes untouchable.  He explains that evil cannot rule over someone who is attached to consummate good.  Torah is goodness in a non-physical sense, while chesed is goodness in a physical, tangible sense.   One who pursues both—Torah and chesed – is impregnable.  He will be spared from the Chevlei, birth pangs, of Moshiach.

The yetzer hora, evil inclination, encourages us to do evil because it is evil.  Indeed, Hashem refers to the yetzer hora as evil (Talmud Succah 52A).  Chazal (Berachos 61B) compare the yetzer hora to a fly.  Flies gravitate to the decayed, to the decomposed, to the dirty objects.  Flies are not attracted to clean, pristine objects.  Evil is attracted to evil; pure good is not a magnet for evil.  It actually makes sense.  Evil seeks to blend in; thus, it is drawn to its own kind.  It distances itself from inherent good, because it attracts too much attention.

The Rosh Yeshivah concludes with our mission statement:  Develop your goodness; increase your Jewish identity as a Torah Jew by studying Torah and carrying out acts of lovingkindness. [Torah defines chesed as acts of lovingkindness that adhere to Torah guidelines.  An activity might be “kind,” but still not necessarily stand under the rubric of chesed.]

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