Parshas Tzav goes into the details of the different korbanos (sacrifices). Korbanos can be brought for a variety of reasons but the two main ones are as part of the process of forgiveness for a sin or to give thanks to Hashem. While the Torah goes into great detail about them and in general they are connected with some very exciting events, we learn a tremendous lesson about korbanos from this week’s Haftorah. “כי לא דברתי את אבותיכם ולא צויתים ביום הוציא [הוציאי] אותם מארץ מצרים על דברי עולה וזבח כי אם את הדבר הזה צויתי אותם לאמר שמעו בקולי והייתי לכם לאלהים ואתם תהיו לי לעם והלכתם בכל הדרך אשר אצוה אתכם למען ייטב לכם” “For I did not speak with your forefathers nor did I command them- on the day I took them out of the land of Egypt- concerning an olah or any sacrifice. Rather, I commanded them regarding only this matter, saying: ‘Hear My voice that I may be a God unto you and you will be a people unto Me; and you shall follow along the entire path in which I command you, so that it will go well for you” (Yirmiyahu 7:22-23). The pasuk tells us that when we first became a nation, Hashem did not mention anything about the korbanos. This shows us that while the korbanos are a tremendous gift from Hashem, he would rather we keep all the mitzvos properly and not have to bring korbanos at all (or at least the ones that are not direct commandments)! This is something to keep in mind as we discuss this concept.
The Kli Yakar points out a few differences in the language of the different korbanos. The pasuk says by a Korban Shelamim, “וְזֹאת תּוֹרַת זֶבַח הַשְּׁלָמִים אֲשֶׁר יַקְרִיב לַי־הֹוָ־ה” “This is the law of the sacrifice of the peace-offering that one will offer to Hashem” (Vayikra 7:11). The Shelamim is the only korban which has the phrase “that one will offer to Hashem” written by it. This is because, as we have explained, all the other korbanos are brought to atone for sins. The Shelamim, however, is brought to give thanks to Hashem. Therefore, it is more special to Hashem than the other ones. Similarly, in Pasuk 30, the pasuk writes, “יָדָיו תְּבִיאֶינָה” “His hands shall bring [it]” (7:30). The pasuk is speaking about the Shelamim and says that “his hands” shall bring the korban, something which is not written by any other korban. This is because, to give an example, someone who is bringing a present to the king is more than happy to bring it himself while someone who is trying to gain forgiveness instead sends a messenger.
The Kli Yakar also gives a deeper insight into the korbanos. Five times in this parshah, by each one of the five types of korbanos, the phrase “זֹאת תּוֹרַת” “This is the law [of]”, is used. He explains that each one of these phrases correspond to a different one of the five books of the Torah. Sefer Bereishis is compared to the Korban Olah which is completely burnt up on the Mizbe’ach. We learn this from the four times in Sefer Bereishis where we see someone bring an Olah, by Hevel, Noach, Avraham and Yaakov.
Sefer Shemos is compared to the Korban Mincha which is made out of flour, oil, and other spices. When the Mincha is later baked, it is made into Matzah. The laws of Matzah and leaven and unleavened bread are explained extensively in Sefer Shemos by the laws of Pesach, thus giving this korban a strong connection to Sefer Shemos. Sefer Vayikra is represented by the Korban Chatas, the sin-offering. This sefer comes right after the sin of the Golden Calf at the end of Sefer Shemos. And as we have already explained, the laws of the korbanos, which this sefer is about, were only given to us in order that we should be able to gain atonement for our sins (besides for the Shelamim).
Sefer Bamidbar corresponds to the Korban Asham, the guilt-offering. This is because even though the laws of an Asham are discussed here in Sefer Vayikra, there is one more section of the Torah that discusses it in Parshas Bamidbar, making that point the official end of the laws of Asham. And lastly, Sefer Devarim is comparable to the Korban Shelamim since the laws of Shelamim are discussed several times throughout the sefer.
The point of this is that one who engages in the study of any of the books of the Torah, it is as if they have brought that corresponding korban. What a tremendous opportunity! Even though we do not have the Beis Hamikdash or the Mizbe’ach nowadays, we still have the opportunity to be rewarded for the mitzvah korbanos. But as great as korbanos are, let us remember that it is even better to not need them at all. May we all be zoche to see the day when the Beis Hamikdash is rebuilt and all its services are restored.
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