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Shabbat Parashat Vayikra 5783

Parashat Hashavua: How Does One Bring a Korban?

Harav Yosef Carmel

Sefer Vayikra opens with idea, “Should a man from among you bring an offering (yakriv korban)” (Vayikra 1:2). What does this pronouncement mean? Finding an answer to this question is difficult today, some 2,000 years since we were last able to fulfill this mitzva.

In the past, we explained that “korban” comes from “kirva” (closeness). Bringing a korban is an attempt to draw close to Hashem, along the lines of, “For me, closeness to Hashem is good” (Tehillim 73:28). Ostensibly, coming to the Beit Hamikdash, willing to sacrifice, draws one closer to his Creator. When these things are not available in our days, how do we get close? Are there no other avenues these days?

One can ask more deeply: Is it possible to draw close to One who is an “all-consuming fire” (Devarim 4:24) and is higher than high? The Zohar tells us that it is not even possible to contemplate Him!

The great Chassidic masters provided an opening to understanding. Despite the above source about Hashem’s transcendence, there is also a kabbalistic concept that there is no place bereft of Him. Thus, we never have to approach Him, as Hashem is always close to us. Actually both polar ideas are true, and the tension between them is the place of truth.

From the perspective of the soul, which is a part of the divine, we are always close to the Divine Presence. From a physical perspective, there is no way to draw close. The point of contact between the spiritual and the physical is one’s persona.

But how does one draw close? The answer is by minimizing oneself; one who minimizes himself draws closer to Hashem. The humbler a person is, the closer he is. One does not need to go anywhere to make that a reality. One needs to only work on his personal characteristics and “put his ego on a diet.” Shrinking the ego makes him closer to Hashem. Even one with great potential to be close to Hashem, and certainly those on a lower level, can fall into the trap of conceit and lose it. The Rabbis taught: “Whoever is haughty, if he is wise, his wisdom leaves him; if he is a prophet, he loses his prophecy” (Pesachim 66b).  

At the giving of the Torah at Sinai, the entire nation, over its generations, was the closest it has ever been to the Giver of the Torah. The gemara (Sota 5a) cites opinions on whether at Sinai, the people were elevated until they approached Hashem’s Presence Above, or whether the Divine Presence was lowered close to the ground. The gemara concludes that the latter is correct. This too is an indication that humility is a key factor in this human-divine connection.

Rav Kook, in, Middot Hare’ayah teaches: “One who purifies himself from the haughtiness of the heart can repent fully without impediments.” Also, “One who hates haughtiness merits to enjoy clinging to Hashem.” An important step in reaching humility is following the advice of Rabbi Elimelech of Lizhensk: Always see one’s counterpart’s fine qualities and not his shortcomings.

Our Torah text for the word Vayikra ends with a small letter Aleph. Such a special occurrence in the beginning of the sefer that deals with korbanot hints strongly that only one who makes himself small is able to hear the call of Hashem from the Tent of Meeting.

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We daven for a complete and speedy refuah for:

Nir Rephael ben Rachel Bracha
Ori Leah bat Chaya Temima

Arye Yitzchak ben Geula Miriam

Neta bat Malka

Meira bat Esther
Yerachmiel ben Zlotta Rivka

Together with all cholei Yisrael

Hemdat Yamim is dedicated

to the memory of:

Those who fell in wars

for our homeland


Prof. Yisrael Aharoni z"l

Kislev 14, 5783


Rav Shlomo Merzel z”l
Iyar 10, 5771

Rav Reuven & Chaya Leah Aberman z"l
Tishrei 9 ,5776 / Tishrei 20, 5782


Mr. Shmuel & Esther Shemesh z"l

Sivan 17 / Av 20


Mr. Moshe Wasserzug z"l

Tishrei 20 ,5781


R' Eliyahu Carmel z"l

Rav Carmel's father

Iyar 8 ,5776


Mrs. Sara Wengrowsky

bat RMoshe Zev a”h.

Tamuz 10 ,5774


Rav Asher & Susan Wasserteil z"l
Kislev 9 / Elul 5780


R' Meir ben

Yechezkel Shraga Brachfeld z"l


Mrs. Sara Brachfeld z"l

Tevet 16 ,5780


R 'Yaakov ben Abraham & Aisha


Chana bat Yaish & Simcha

Sebbag, z"l


Rav Yisrael Rozen z"l
Cheshvan 13, 5778


Rav Benzion Grossman z"l
Tamuz 23, 5777


R' Abraham & Gita Klein z"l

Iyar 18,  /5779Av 4


Rav Moshe Zvi (Milton) Polin z"l
Tammuz 19, 5778


R' Yitzchak Zev Tarshansky z"l

Adar 28, 5781


Nina Moinester z"l

Nechama Osna bat Yitzhak Aharon & Doba

Av 30, 5781


Rabbi Dr. Jerry Hochbaum z"l

Adar II 17, 5782


Mrs. Julia Koschitzky z"l

Adar II 18, 5782


Mrs. Leah Meyer z"l

Nisan 27, 5782


Mr. Shmuel & Rivka Brandman z"l

Tevet 16 5783/ Iyar 8, 5781


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