Sunday, March 16, 2008


We're told that the asham - guilt offering, and the chataat - sin offering, are offered in the same area as the olah - heavenly ascendant offering. Why is this the way that the place is described? G-d has neither cowardly nor deceptive motives and is much more than capable of saying things straight. So why doesn't the line in the Torah simply read - "Slaughter the chatat and the asham, on the northern corner of the mizbeach," rather than describing their locations in relation to the olah?

The Kli Yakar explains that the reason why these korbanot are all offered in the same spot is to avoid embarrassment. Someone who brought a korban for a mistake he made (asham, chatat) would probably be experiencing discomfort, even turmoil. The last thing a person needs at this difficult time is to have others seeing him in the sin section and gossiping about him ("look who's bringing a chatat…you'll never believe… I thought he was frum…")

By putting the olah - which is an optional offering that isn't necessarily brought due to sin - and the chatat, and asham together in the same space, the Torah is decreasing the obviousness of why someone is there, thus allowing an individual to remain clean in the eyes of his peers. The Torah phrases it the way it does to make it clear that these karbanot are placed where they are in order to be sensitive to the needs of the one who brings a korban and to protect him from the insensitivity of others. Phil Chernofsky points out in connection with this idea that one reason for why we daven Shmoneh Esrei quietly is so that no-one hears the confessions and private wounds of his friend.

How sensitive to people's feelings G-d is and wishes for us to be!

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