Friday, March 26, 2010

Tzav 5770

We're told that the asham - guilt offering, and the chatat - sin offering, are presented 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 (unlike us humans) 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 says these korbanot are all offered in the same spot in order to circumvent 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 peers. The phrasing of the text makes 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.

Rav Shlomo Yosef Zevin observes that while the conception developed above focuses on the perception of others, there is another viewpoint, developed by the Rebbe of Sokotchov which is more concerned with the makriv - one offering the sacrifice himself: The Chachamim say (Vayikra Rabbah 7:3) that the olah comes to atone for inappropriate thoughts. (That the olah comes as a rectification of thought related sins is also made clear from Iyov 1:5, in which Iyov brings olot corresponding to the number of his children, as he wonders if his sons have erred by cursing G-d in their hearts.) The word "tzafon" - Hebrew for north - comes from the shoresh - root "tzfafun," meaning hidden, because this direction is hidden from the sun. The olah, which addresses internal, thought oriented sins, is appropriately brought in the area most associated with the hidden.

1 comment:

rabbi neil fleischmann said...

I just heard another take on this. It says that you should do the olah bemakom the chatat. r Dovid Feinstein says it means not in the place where you do it, but instead of the chatat. An olah can be proactive for missing the mark on mitzvot aseh, bring those often and it will help prevent having to bring a chatat.