Parshas Vayikra: Karbanos from the root of karov, of coming close

The upcoming week’s Parsha is Vayikra (and He called to Moshe)…G-d called to Moshe from the setup Tabernacle and gave him the commandments about the sacrifices.

Concept of Karbanos – the root word of the word sacrifices is Karov – to near, to become closer.

The whole point of the sacrifice exercise is to come close to G-d.  Let us say you had this nasty spat with your good friend.  You really want to patch things up, but you don’t know how to go about it.  And then, you see these beautiful daffodils in the corner deli.  You scoop up the bouquet and head to your friend’s place, flowers in hand.  The point is not the flowers.  The flowers are just your mechanism to come close and repair the rift.  That is the mechanism that G-d put into place for us.  At all times, there are ways to come close to Him, even if we have distanced ourselves.

Verse 2  “Speak to the Jews and tell them a man when he brings from you a Karban for G-d, from the domestic animals you should bring your karbanos.”

The Ohr Hachayim points out a problem with this verse.  It is almost repeating itself.

If you look at this verse again, you will see something amazing.  What does G-d really want – us to bring ourselves closer to Him.  If we choose to “give to G-d”, that is a Korban, but that is not the real essence of what is FOR G-d.  The real essence of what G-d wants is in the italics words  “from you”, your life should be spent coming close to Hashem, when you give to Him it should be a welling up of your soul and yourself.

In this week’s Parsha, we see the sensitivity of Hashem to every type of person on the spectrum.  A Karban was set up for every kind of person and his circumstances.  G-d gives us a chance at each occasion to find a way to still come close to Him –even when we make our mistakes.

There are Ashma and Chata’h – there are times you mess up on purpose and there are times you mess up by mistake.  We don’t say you are damned – that is not the Jewish way.  You messed up – okay, let’s deal with the mess up and find a way to get you back on track.  “kee nafaltee kamtee” because I fell I was able to rise.  It is not the end of the world when we mess up, as long as we pick ourselves up.  The Torah in its infinite kindness gave us ways to get ourselves back on track after a mistake.   So two different sacrifices are described to cover the two types of sinning we do (mistake and deliberate).

There are other times we have to “get back on track”.  When you get something good, sometimes you forget your purpose in life, so focused and absorbed you might become on enjoying good times.  So, there is a Karban set for the thank you times that we have to become close to Hashem – -those times we have to stay grounded and hit the realization, “where did all the good times come from, if not from Hashem”.

Not only are there Karbanos set for every occasion possible where we might need a “grounding”, a way of reconnecting to Hashem; but there is also a way to bring the Korban in a  sliding scale accessible for all.

Supposing Moshiach came tomorrow and we had to clean up our messes.  So we had to go out and buy some goats/sheeps or cows.  What if we don’t have that kind of money – does that mean the poor person cannot “reset” his spirituality by refocusing through a Korban?  Nope.  The Torah gives different guidelines for different folks.  In fact, some folks are too poor to bring that – so the Torah tells us what they can bring – a Korban within their own means.  There is the possibility of bringing two doves (something he doesn’t have to buy but can try to catch), and if he can’t do that he can bring flour as his Karban.  This shows the sensitivity of G-d, outlining in  the Torah that the rich aren’t privileged characters who get to buy their way to atonement.  Each person, according to his means, has an obtainable way to come close to Hashem.

There is a reverse on this – when you give it has to be befitting of your means.  If you are rich, you cannot get away with a smaller thing.  In our own lives, we have to be honest with ourselves – what in our life are we willing to change to become closer to Hashem after a mess-up in our observance – and when we make that calculation we have to be honest with who we are.

One of the concepts of a Karban is that you didn’t send it by messenger – here take a donation for the synagogue and finished with it.  You had to be present at the Karban.  You had to be actively involved.  Mess up – you have to fess up.  It is not a buying of forgiveness “oh forgive me father for I have sinned” “okay give me X amount of dollars and all is forgiven” – that is NOT the Jewish way.  G-d (not a confession to the father confessor) I have sinned – now I will get busy (not just merely donate) with recreating a spiritual connection to Hashem.  So I haul my erring self to Yerushalayim (to a place of spirituality – in our days, hopefully we haul ourselves to a Torah shiur to get ourselves back where we need to be).  We invest time and money to get the Korban – go meet with the Kohen and then – we MUST confess – we have to examine ourselves and see our flaws – it is not the Kohen who has to say what we did wrong – we have to do that for ourselves. It is about us reconnecting, not about us “buying” our way to forgiveness.

Whether we lost our way in spirituality due to errors or due to too much goodness in our lives, may we all merit to reconnect, to bring our personal selves back into a relationship with G-d, by using whatever might be appropriate for our means.

About jewishspectacles

Jewish Spectacles-the kind you look through, not the kind you create!
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