Parashat Vayikra

Parashat Vayikra

Money Well Spent

An offering to the Lord (Leviticus 1:2)

קרבן לה’ (ויקרא א:ב)

The Torah, on the other hand, does not speak of sacrifices in the modern sense. Rather, Vayikra describes korbanot, usually translated as “sacrifices,” but certainly not in the modern sense. The word korban is derived from the word karov, meaning, “close.” Da’at Mikra (on Leviticus 1:2) explains the term to refer to geographical closeness, as Jews were required to travel to the Temple in Jerusalem in order to offer a ritual sacrifice. The Midrash offers a more spiritual explanation for the term. “Why is it called Korban? It is because one [who makes an offering] draws his soul close to the Creator.” (Yalkut Teimani) Berman writes that the Hebrew word korban “literally means ‘that which has been brought close’ and it refers to the sacrifice as something that enters into God’s presence in the Sanctuary. To offer a sacrifice is termed le-hakriv korban – literally, ‘to bring the sacrifice close’… symbolic of the emotional and spiritual stance of the Jew as he attempts to come closer to his maker.” Today we don’t offer sacrifices in our worship. But we certainly do, in the original sense of the word, “make things sacred.” Our yearning for holiness has not changed; the meaning of the word has. Few wish to sacrifice when it means “giving up something of value.” We all, however, willingly “sacrifice” when it means, “doing something holy.”Shabbat Shalom.