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Kinder Torah
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Parashas Vayikra

Come Close

"Abba, can you help me with my homework?"

"Sure, Chaim. What is the subject?"

"Korbonos."

"That is a fascinating and meaningful subject, Chaim."

"Really, Abba? I find it so difficult to relate to. We do not sacrifice korbonos nowadays."

"True, Chaim. However the essential purpose of korbonos is as real today as it ever was."

"What is the purpose of korbonos, Abba?"

"Let us begin with the definition of the word 'korbon,' Chaim."

"That's easy, Abba. It means sacrifice."

"That is a very common mistake, Chaim. Rav Shimshon Refael Hirsch, in the beginning of his commentary on Sefer Vayikra, points out that the word 'sacrifice' is a misnomer. Sacrifice means to give up something, and get nothing in return. A korbon is exactly the opposite. The word 'korbon' comes from the root word 'karov' - to come close."

"Who comes close to whom?"

"A korbon enables us to come close to Hashem."

"In what way, Abba?"

"Let us take a korbon chattos, for example, Chaim. If a person forgot that it was Shabbos, and accidentally performed a melacha d'oraysa, then he must bring a korbon chattos. He has committed a sin - he has violated the Shabbos. This puts 'spiritual dirt' upon his neshama (soul), causing a separation between him and Hashem. He wants to come close, to renew that close relationship he once had with his Creator. Therefore, he brings a korbon chattos to the Beis HaMikdash. The whole procedure of confessing, shechting, dissecting, taking the blood, and burning the korbon on the mizbeach brings a person to introspection. 'This animal is dying for my sin. I could have been the one to die,' he thinks. He does teshuva. And so, the korbon and the teshuva that accompanies it rid the person of his sin. He can once again mekarev - come close to - Hashem. He gives an animal - a negligible sacrifice - for a renewed relationship with the Creator of the Universe."

"How beautiful! Are korbonos brought for other reasons, Abba?"

"Yes, Chaim. The korbon todah was brought to thank Hashem from saving him from a dangerous situation. The chagiga was brought on the regalim to rejoice in the simcha of the regel. The korbonos of the zov, metzora, and yoledes were brought as a part of their purification process. Korbonos tsibur were offered on behalf of all Klal Yisrael. Let us not forget the Korbon Pesach, which reminds us of the great miracles that took place when we left Mitzrayim."

"Wow! It is such a shame that we have lost all of these opportunities to come close to Hashem, Abba."

"True, Chaim. That is why we pray for the rebuilding of the Beis HaMikdash every day. Then we will bring all of our offerings. However, in the meantime there are other ways that we can strengthen our relationship with The Almighty."

"Please tell me, Abba."

"We can take the time to learn about the korbonos, their halachos, and their meanings. That itself is a great merit, as the Chofetz Chaim explains in the introduction to his sefer, 'Likutei Halachos.' He cites many sources from our Sages who equate learning about korbonos to bringing the offerings themselves!"

"Fantastic!"

"An additional benefit of this learning, is that when we reach those points in the tefillos (prayers) that speak about korbonos, we will b'ezrat Hashem have much better kavannah (concentration). Those prayers will also be considered as if we offered up the korbonos, as the verse states, 'And let our lips substitute for the offerings,' (Hoshea 14:3)."

"I never realized, Abba. Do you know of other ways to come close to Hashem?"

"Yes Chaim. Talk to Him. Tefillah b'tsibur (congregational prayer) is the official gathering when we formally speak to Him. However, Hashem is anxious (so to speak) to hear from us at any time about anything. We can speak to Him using the immortal words of Dovid HaMelech in Tehillim. Alternatively, we can use our own words, as Rav Avigdor Miller advises, in the 'Ten Steps to Greatness.' Spend a few seconds each day in a private place and say to Hashem, 'I love You Hashem.' You will be fulfilling a positive commandment from the Torah. This will kindle a fire in your heart and will have a powerful effect on your character. Hashem is listening. He loves you much more than you love Him."

"That is so moving."

"Rav Chaim Shmuelevitz was once troubled by a difficult kasha (question) in his learning. He paced back and forth in the Beis HaMedrash of the Mir Yeshiva, unable to get a clarity in the sugya (subject). He stopped by the window, looked up to the Heavens, and asked Hashem to help him. His eyebrows wrinkled deep in thought. Suddenly his face lit up. He had the answer to the question! He stood upright, crashed his hand on the shtender, turned to the window and said, 'A groise dank!' (Thank you very much!). Hashem had given Rav Chaim the answer, and he expressed his appreciation. What a close relationship with Hashem! When he needed help, he spoke to his Creator in his own words."

"I hope to learn from his example, Abba. You have really inspired me with so many ways to come as close as I can to Hashem."

Kinderlach . . .

Let us all follow Chaim's example. Until the Beis HaMikdash is rebuilt (speedily in our days, amen) we will not have korbonos. However, we can still learn about them. We can still pray for them. That is the closest we can come to offering them. Let us also take advantage of the other ways to get close to Hashem. Talk to Him! Tell Him that you love Him. Share your problems with Him. Ask Him for whatever you want, whenever you want. You will come closer to him, as the verse states, "Hashem is close to all who call upon Him, to all who call upon Him in truth (Tehillim 145:18)." Come close.

Parasha Questions:

If a mitzvah and aveyra are equally weighted; which is greater - the reward for the mitzvah or the punishment for the aveyra? (Rashi 5:17)

If a sheep is brought for a shlamim, what parts must be removed? (3:9-10)

A chattos is brought for an unintentional aveyra. What would the punishment have been if the aveyra was intentional? (Rashi 4:2)

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