web analytics
September 18, 2014 / 23 Elul, 5774
At a Glance
Judaism
Sponsored Post
Apartment 758x530 Africa-Israel at the Israel Real Estate Exhibition in New York

Africa Israel Residences, part of the Africa Israel Investments Group led by international businessman Lev Leviev, will present 7 leading projects on the The Israel Real Estate Exhibition in New York on Sep 14-15, 2014.



Home » Judaism » Parsha »

Korban Oleh VeYored

YU-030714

In the fifth perek of Parshas Vayikra, we read about the korban oleh veyored – the variable sin-offering, whose substance is dependent on the financial status of the sinner.  Although a sin-offering (korban chatas) generally consists of a sheep or goat, for certain sins the Torah prescribes that a rich person must bring an animal, a poor person can bring a pair of birds instead, and the poorest of the poor can make do with a mincha of mere flour.  The Torah specifies only three sins that merit this special treatment.  First, shevu’as ha’edus, the sin of a witness refusing to testify in a civil case when subpoenaed under oath.  Second, tumas mikdash vekodshav, the sin of a tamei person entering the Beis HaMikdash or eating korbanos in his state of tumah.  Lastly, shevuas bituy, the sin of violating one’s oath.

The commentaries are puzzled by why these three sins are specifically singled out by the Torah for flexible atonement options, while all other serious sins require an expensive animal korban.  Many commentaries agree with the general approach of the Ramban, who explains that these three sins are less severe than the others discussed in this parsha.  Ramban explains that the first and third sins are less severe because although they involve a violation of an oath, they do not incur the penalty of kares, and the second is less severe because although kares is incurred, the sinner had good intentions and was trying to come close to Hashem through the Mikdash at the time of his sin.  (See also Chizkuni and Ibn Ezra.)

Perhaps, though, there is room to suggest a homiletical interpretation which would shed further light on this perplexing phenomenon.  If we seek out the common denominator of these three sins, we notice that they are all specific obligations or prohibitions that apply only to particular individuals, who find themselves in specific circumstances.  Unlike most of the prohibitions of the Torah, which are universal and apply equally to all Jews, these three represent special burdens imposed on specific people.  The obligation to testify applies only to someone who happened to witness a crime or similar event, the obligation to avoid the Mikdash and korbanos applies only to someone who happened to become tamei, and the obligation to fulfill an oath devolves only upon someone who has voluntarily sworn an oath.

We may suggest that these sins specifically represent the special obligations that each of us has as an individual with a unique background and potential.  Sometimes, like the tamei individual who must stay away from the Mikdash, we have our limits and disabilities, and we must remember not to attempt those goals which are beyond our reach.  At other times, like the subpoenaed witness, we find ourselves in a situation which gives us greater responsibility, and we have to recognize the obligation to live up to that responsibility.  If someone turns to me, as the litigant does to the witness, because I am the only one who can help him, then I must conclude that Hashem put me in this position because He wants me to be His emissary to relieve suffering and bring goodness into the world.  If I am approached by the community because I have the power to help bolster the observance of Torah and perpetuation of our mesorah, then I must feel the obligation to contribute, and not make the excuse that I am doing as much as the next guy.

Even more radical is the obligation hinted at by the third sin mentioned in this context, the voluntary oath.  This oath represents a voluntarily accepted obligation to do more that the Torah requires of me, because I sense that I have the potential to strive for loftier spiritual heights and use my unique talents and potential to do great things.  The Torah cannot specify to each individual what he is able to accomplish using his unique abilities and strengths, but the Torah does hint to us that when we recognize this potential and accept upon ourselves the unique mission that Hashem has in mind for us, there is no going back, and we sin if we become yet another face in the crowd and lose sight of our uniqueness.  (As a matter of practical halacha though, while we should always strive to do more mitzvos and help others, in order to avoid serious transgression, we refrain from swearing, and we add “bli neder” when discussing voluntary commitments.)

About the Author: Rabbi Assaf Bednarsh is the Ruth Buchbinder Mitzner Chair in Talmud and Jewish Law at Yeshiva University-affiliated Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Korban Oleh VeYored”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
The Iron Dome was called on for the first time in 2013 to intercept a missile fired by terrorists in Sinai at Eilat.
National Lawyers Guild seeks to indict Obama for helping Israel build Iron Dome
Latest Judaism Stories
Jonah and the Whale (2012) 23 x 23, bronze relief by Lynda Caspe.

Jonah objected to God accepting repentance based on ulterior motives and likely for short duration.

15th century Book of the Torah

This week’s parsha offers a new covenant; a covenant that speaks to national life unlike any other

Leff-091214

All Jews are inherently righteous and that is why we all have a portion in the World to Come.

Grunfeld-Raphael-logo

If mourning is incompatible with Yom Tov, why is it not incompatible with Shabbat?

Since it is a Rabbinic prohibition we may follow the more lenient opinion.

How can the Torah expect me today, thousands of years after the mitzvahs were given, to view each mitzvah as if I’m fulfilling it for the first time?

Torah isn’t a theological treatise or a metaphysical system but a series of stories linked over time

In contrast to her Eicha-like lamentations of the previous hour or more, however, my youngest was now grinning from ear-to-ear.

An Astonishing Miracle
‘Why Bring the Infants to Hakhel?’
(Chagigah 3a)

Question: I recently loaned money to a friend who has been able to repay only part of it. This was an interest-free loan. We exchanged a signed IOU, not a proper shtar with witnesses, since I have always trusted her integrity and only wanted a document that confirms what was loaned and what was repaid. Now that shemittah is approaching, what should I do? Should I forgive the loan? And if my friend is not able to repay it, may I deduct the unpaid money from my ma’aser requirement?

Name Withheld

e are in a time of serious crisis and must go beyond our present levels of chesed.

According to Ibn Ezra, the Torah was stressing through this covenant that hypocrisy was forbidden.

“Tony said that the code in most places in the U.S. is at least 36 inches for a residential guardrail,” replied Mr. Braun. “Some make it higher, 42, or even 52 inches for high porches. What is the required height according to halacha?”

Simcha is total; sahs is God’s joy in protecting us even when we are most vulnerable.

Not only do we accept You as our King, it is our greatest desire that the name of Your Kingdom be spread throughout the entire universe.

More Articles from Rabbi Assaf Bednarsh
YU-030714

Sometimes, like the tamei individual who must stay away from the Mikdash, we have our limits and disabilities, and we must remember not to attempt those goals which are beyond our reach.

YU-031513-Haggadah

Hashem’s reason for redeeming us from Egypt was not so that we could be free, but so that we could be free to accept the Torah at Har Sinai and service Hashem.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/parsha/korban-oleh-veyored/2014/03/07/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: