web analytics
March 3, 2015 / 12 Adar , 5775
At a Glance
Judaism
Sponsored Post


Home » Judaism » Parsha »

Making Sense Of The Sin Offering


The third dimension of sin is that it defiles. It leaves a stain on your character. Isaiah, in the presence of God, feels that he has “unclean lips” (Isaiah 6:5). King David says to God, “Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin” (meichatati tahareni, Psalms 51:4). About Yom Kippur the Torah says, “On that day atonement will be made for you, to cleanse you [letaher etchem]. Then, before the Lord, you will be clean from all your sins” (Leviticus 16:30).

Ramban says that this is the logic of the sin offering. All sins, even those committed inadvertently, “leave a stain on the soul and constitute a blemish on it, and the soul is only fit to meet its Maker when it has been cleansed from all sin” (Ramban to Leviticus 4:2). The result of the sin offering is tehorah – cleansing, purification.

So the sin offering is not about guilt but about other dimensions of transgression. It is one of the stranger features of Western civilization, due in part to Pauline Christianity, and partly to the influence of the philosopher Immanuel Kant, that we tend to think about morality and spirituality as matters almost exclusively to do with the mind and its motives. But our acts leave traces in the world. And even unintentional sins can leave us feeling defiled.

The law of the sin offering reminds us that we can do harm unintentionally, and this can have psychological consequences. The best way of putting things right is to make a sacrifice, to do something that costs us something.

In ancient times, that took the form of a sacrifice offered on the altar at the Temple. Nowadays the best way of doing so is to give money to charity (tzedakah) or to perform an act of kindness to others (chesed). The prophet said so long ago: “For I desire loving-kindness, not sacrifice” (Hosea 6:6). Charity and kindness are our substitutes for sacrifice and, like the sin offering of old, they help mend what is broken in the world and in our soul.

Adapted from “Covenant & Conversation,” a collection of Rabbi Jonathan Sacks’s parshiyot hashavua essays, to be published by Maggid Books, an imprint of Koren Publishers Jerusalem (www.korenpub.com), in conjunction with the Orthodox Union.  Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, chief rabbi of the British Commonwealth since 1991, is the author of many books of Jewish thought, most recently “The Koren Sacks Rosh HaShana Mahzor” (Koren Publishers Jerusalem).

About the Author: Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, former chief rabbi of the British Commonwealth, is the author of many books of Jewish thought, most recently “The Great Partnership: Science, Religion, and the Search for Meaning.”


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.

One Response to “Making Sense Of The Sin Offering”

  1. Sorry….sin is about guilt, repentence, and a sacrifice by the only one worthy, a sinless one..Jesus.

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
Americans have a more favorable view of Netanyahu than they do of Obama.
Transcript of PM Binyamin Netanyahu’s Historic Speech to Congress
Latest Judaism Stories
wine

One can drink up to the Talmud’s criterion to confuse Mordechai and Haman-but not beyond.

Hur and Aharon holding up Moshe's hands as Joshua battled Amalek.

“The voice is the voice of Yaakov, but the hands are the hands of Esav” gives great insight to Purim

Esther Denouncing Haman

Purim is the battleground of extremes, Amalek and Yisrael, with Zoroastrian Persia in between.

Niehaus-022715

One should not give the money before Purim morning or after sunset.

The mishloach manos of times gone by were sometimes simple and sometimes elaborate, but the main focus was on the preparation of the delicious food they contained.

Does Hashem ever go away and not pay attention to us?

In other words, the Torah is an expression of the Way that we must follow in order to live a divine-like life and to bond in the highest way possible with God or Being Itself.

The Chasam Sofer answers that one of only prohibited from wearing a garment that contains shatnez if he does so while wearing the garment for pleasure purposes.

The avodah (service) of the kohen gadol is vital and highly sensitive; the world’s very existence depends on it.

Moreover, even if the perpetrator of the capital offense is never actually executed, such as when the fatal act was unintentional, Kam Lei applies and the judge cannot award damages.

Forever After?
‘Obligated for Challahh and Not Terumah’
(Kesubos 25a)

Question: If Abraham was commanded to circumcise his descendants on the eighth day, why do Arabs – who claim to descend from Abraham through Yishmael – wait until their children are 13 to circumcise them? I am aware that this is a matter of little consequence to our people. Nevertheless, this inconsistency is one that piques my curiosity.

M. Goldman
(Via E-mail)

“We really appreciate your efforts in straightening the shul,” said Mr. Reiss. “How is it going?”

This was a spontaneous act of rest after the miracle of vanquishing their respective foes. The following year they celebrated on the same days as a minhag.

The way we must to relate to our young adult children is to communicate with genuine loving-kindness

More Articles from Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks
Rabbi Sacks

Jewish prayer is a convergence of 2 modes of biblical spirituality, exemplified by Moses and Aaron

Rabbi Sacks

With the synagogue, “Judaism created one of the greatest revolutions in the history of religion”

By wisdom, we come to understand G-d via creation; By Torah we understand G-d through His revelation

Torah opposes slavery; G-d desires the free worship of free human beings, yet slavery’s permitted-?!

Pharaoh perverted symbols of life (the Nile and midwives) into agents of death.

The 5th cup is supported by a 5th expression of Deliverance: “And I will bring you to the land…”

The first recorded instance of civil disobedience is the story of Shifra and Puah, defying Pharaoh

Truthfulness is a fundamental value in Jewish yet truth isn’t its highest value. Peace is. Why so?

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/parsha/making-sense-of-the-sin-offering/2012/03/22/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: