Join Meir Panim’s campaign to “light up” Chanukah for families in need.
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.
Comments are closed.
Why is the tzitzis reminder on our clothing? How does it remind us that there are 613 mitzvos?
The court cannot solely rely on death certificates issued by non-Jewish institutions without conducting its own investigation into the facts of the case.
“I’m still not sure we have a right to damage his property,” said Mrs. Schloss. “Can you ask someone?”
Slavery was universal; So, why was Egypt targeted in this object lesson?
Rav Akiva Eiger is assuming that the logic of the halacha that both the son and his mother are obligated to honor his father and therefore he must honor his fathers wishes first, is a mathematical equation.
Reward And Punishment
‘Masser Rishon For The levi’im’
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.
Reb Shlomo Zalman could not endure honorifics applied to him because of his enormous humility
Because we see these events as world changing, as moments in history, they become part of us forever.
They stammer “I’m not Orthodox,” as if that absolves them from the responsibility of calling to G-d
It’s fascinating how sources attain the status “traditional,” or its equivalent level of kashrus.
She was determined that the Law class was Dina’s best chance of finding a husband, and that was the real reason she wanted her to go to college.
Jacob’s blessing of Ephraim over Manasseh had nothing to do with age and everything to do with names
A Jew is an iconoclast, born to challenge the idols of the age,whatever the idols, whatever the age.
Simply too many cases of prayers being answered to deny it makes a difference to our fate. It does.
When Jacob was chosen, Esau was not rejected; G-d does not reject.
Between Judaism and Islam there can be friendship and mutual respect as Abraham loved both his sons.
God wanted to establish the principle that children are not the property of their parents.
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: