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Bringing Korbanos Today

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This week’s parshah continues the discussion of the halachos of korbanos. Before describing the halachos of a certain korban, the words often used in pesukim are “zos Toras hachatas, zos Toras ha’asham” (these are the laws of this korban).

Rabbi Yitzchak, in the Gemara (Menachos 110a), derives from these pesukim that anyone who learns about a korban from the Torah is considered to have actually sacrificed that korban. Similarly, the Gemara in Ta’anis 27b says that during the times of the Beis HaMikdash one would bring a korban to receive atonement. When there is no Beis HaMikdash, one can learn the halachos of korbanos and Hashem will consider the person to have brought that korban.

The Tur (Orach Chaim 1) says that one should try to recite the parshiyos of the korbanos during the daytime, since that is when the korbanos were brought. He also says that after reciting the parshah of each korban one should recite a short prayer, asking Hashem to consider his recitation of the parshah as fulfillment of having brought the korban. (This tefillah is found in most siddurim.) The Tur, however, says that this tefillah should not be recited after reading the parshah of the korban chatas, since a korban chatas may not be brought as a nedavah (voluntary korban). The rest of the korbanos may be brought voluntarily; thus, even if one is not obligated to bring a korban, he can recite the parshah and the tefillah.

The Maharshal (Teshuvos 64) disagrees with the Tur; he personally says the tefillah after the parshah of the korban chatas. To facilitate the issue that the Tur raised – that the korban chatas may not be brought as a nedavah – the Maharshal suggests saying the following prior to reciting the tefillah: “If I am obligated to bring a korban chatas, let this reading be considered before You as if I have actually brought a korban chatas.”

The Taz (Orach Chaim 1:7) is dissatisfied with the Maharshal’s suggestion. He asks: since a chatas cannot be brought as a nedavah, how can one say that his recitation of the parshah should only be accepted as a chatas if he is obligated to bring one? That is, by definition a nedavah since if one is not obligated to bring a chatas the korban will be a voluntary korban.

The Pri Megadim (Mishbetzos Zahav to the Taz there) says that Acharonim have answered the Taz’s question by explaining that the Maharshal did not mean that if he was not obligated to bring a korban, the recitation should then be considered a korban chatas nedavah. The flip side of the recitation – if one is not obligated to bring a korban chatas – is that the recitation should not be considered as if he brought a korban; rather, it should just be as if he read a parshah in the Torah.

I think that another point must be clarified. If a korban chatas cannot be brought as a nedavah, how can one read the parshah of the korban chatas if he is not certain that he is obligated to bring one? Doesn’t the actual reading of the parshah render it as if he has brought the korban? The later tefillah does not transform it into a korban, as the Gemaras quoted earlier say that the learning of the parshiyos is considered as if one has brought the korban. The tefillah is merely a prayer that compliments the recitation of the parshah.

Additionally, the Magen Avraham says in the name of the Shalah that on Shabbos one should not recite the tefillah after the recitation of the parshiyos of the korbanos because a korban nedavah may not be brought on Shabbos. The Har Tzvi (Orach Chaim 1) asks this: If a korban nedavah may not be brought on Shabbos, how can we recite the parshiyos of the korbanos in the first place? Even without the recitation of the tefillah, the recitation of the parshiyos serves the purpose of one actually bringing a korban.

It seems that the Gemaras that say that the learning of the parshiyos of the korbanos is considered as if one has brought those korbanos is contingent on the person’s intentions. If one reads the parshah without thinking that his learning of the parshah should be considered as if he has brought a korban, it will not be considered as though he did. The tefillah that was instituted to be recited after one reads the parshah was established to ensure that one’s intentions are to render the reading as if he has brought the korban.

I believe that if one was not required to bring a certain korban and still recited the parshah of that korban, Hashem will not consider that recitation to have been to his detriment. Thus, in a scenario whereby bringing a korban could be problematic, we do not recite the tefillah; we leave it up to Hashem to decide whether this recitation should be considered as if the individual had brought a korban. Consequently, both on Shabbos and according to the Tur regarding a korban chatas, the tefillah should be omitted.

About the Author: For questions or comments, e-mail RabbiRFuchs@gmail.com.


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