As Sefer Shemos ended with the construction of the Mishkan, Sefer Vayikra deals with its’ service. This includes the halachos of the different korbanos (sacrifices) and the people who will be bringing them. Sefer Vayikra is also known as Toras Kohanim since the Kohanim are the ones responsible for dealing with the korbanos and that this sefer discusses the laws which apply to them due to their special status.
At the beginning of the parshah, in Perek 1 Pasuk 2, the pasuk says, “דַּבֵּר אֶל בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל וְאָמַרְתָּ אֲלֵהֶם אָדָם כִּי יַקְרִיב מִכֶּם … "תַּקְרִיבוּ אֶת קָרְבַּנְכֶם “Speak to the Children of Yisrael and you shall say to them: When a man from among you brings a sacrifice…you shall bring your sacrifice” (Vayikra 1:2). The Kli Yakar points out that the first half of the pasuk addresses a single man, “אָדָם”, bringing a korban while the end of the pasuk switches into the plural form. What is the meaning behind this switch?
We learn in Parshas Bereishis that the very first people to bring a korban were Kayin and Hevel. The story is well known; Kayin had the idea to bring a korban to Hashem and brought some wilted flax. Hevel copied his older brother but instead brought a lamb as a sacrifice. Hashem accepted Hevel’s korban but not Kayin’s and Kayin ended up killing his brother out of jealousy.
The reason Kayin’s korban was not accepted is obvious; the point of a korban is to atone for the soul of the one bringing it. That is why we bring an animal, so that the animal’s soul should take the place of ours. By bringing his korban from one of the most inferior plants around, Kayin showed that he did not grasp the idea of bringing a korban. But even though Hevel’s korban was accepted, he also made a mistake. A korban is supposed to be brought out of a person’s own want and desire to give Hashem a gift. The only reason Hevel brought one was because he was jealous of Kayin’s idea and wanted to do exactly what he had done. This is not the proper attitude to take when bringing a korban.
The Kli Yakar explains that this is exactly what the pasuk is teaching us. When the pasuk starts off in the singular tense with the word “אָדָם”, it actually is referring to Adam Harishon, the first man. When Adam brought his korban, he was alone in the world; therefore, he could only have brought the korban out of his own desire to give a gift to Hashem. This is how the pasuk shows us not to fall into the same trap as Hevel. The middle part of the pasuk (which we did not quote before) says that the korban should be brought from animals, and the last part of the pasuk reads, “תַּקְרִיבוּ אֶת קָרְבַּנְכֶם”. While the word korban is usually translated as sacrifice, it is also used to represent the best part of the animal, the part which you usually save for yourself. Here the pasuk is warning you not to make the same mistakes as Kayin, that you should not bring plants as korbanos and you should make sure that the best part is set aside for Hashem and not for yourself.
May we soon be zoche to bring korbanos in the Beis Hamikdash with all Klal Yisrael.
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