Sharing Torah Insights

Vayikra- Hashem Understands Us

Posted on ג׳ בניסן ה׳תש״ע (March 18, 2010) | in Vayikra | by

5:7 “‘If he cannot afford an animal from the flock,18 he must bring his penalty for guilt for his sin that he has committed,19 two turtledoves or two young pigeons,20 to the Lord, one for a sin offering and one for a burnt offering. 5:8 He must bring them to the priest and present first the one that is for a sin offering. The priest21 must pinch22 its head at the nape of its neck, but must not sever the head from the body.23 5:9 Then he must sprinkle24 some of the blood of the sin offering on the wall of the altar, and the remainder of the blood25 must be squeezed out at the base of the altar – it is a sin offering. 5:10 The second bird26 he must make a burnt offering according to the standard regulation.27 So the priest will make atonement28 on behalf of this person for29 his sin which he has committed, and he will be forgiven.30 5:11 “‘If he cannot afford31 two turtledoves or two young pigeons,32 he must bring as his offering for his sin which he has committed33 a tenth of an ephah34 of choice wheat flour35 for a sin offering. He must not place olive oil on it and he must not put frankincense on it, because it is a sin offering. 5:12 He must bring it to the priest and the priest must scoop out from it a handful as its memorial portion36 and offer it up in smoke on the altar on top of the other gifts of the Lord – it is a sin offering. 5:13 So the priest will make atonement37 on his behalf for his sin which he has committed by doing one of these things,38 and he will be forgiven.39 The remainder of the offering40 will belong to the priest like the grain offering.’”41 (From Net Bible) In discussing the laws of the sacrifices, a couple laws are particularly interesting.

If one is obligated to bring a chatas offering, an animal offering for an intentional sin, and is unable to do so due to financial constraints, he is allowed to bring a (cheaper) bird offering instead. However, he must also bring a second bird olah offering as an olah. The question is, why does he have to bring this second offering? Didn’t he only commit one sin?!

The Ibn Ezra explains insightfully that perhaps a person in this situation committed a second sin. Maybe as he went to buy the bird offering he thought to himself- “not only have I sinned to Hashem, but I also do not even have enough money to pay for an animal offering!” He then might get angry at God for his pitiful state. This anger in his heart is the cause for a second offering. (An olah/burnt offering is brought when one has sinned through thought.)

Asks the Chi’da, wait a second. The next parsha discusses a person poorer than the last- someone that cannot even afford to buy a couple birds. What should he do? Bring some flour. (Even the most destitute of people can afford some flour.) But the pasuk does not seem to require this person to bring two measures of flour- one for his original sin and one for an olah offering, which the Ibn Ezra explained is for thoughts of complaint against God. Why not? Surely this person is in a greater level of poverty!?

He answers beautifully. No doubt that some people in this dire situation would have great complaints against God. But you know what, says the Chid’a, this person’s negative thoughts are allowed! God forebears this person because of the dire situation that God Himself put him into! God gives us everything- money is one of them and so He realizes that some people’s situations are so dire that they cannot help but resent their position. And God allows this. This is why the person does not have to bring a second olah offering.

A great proof to this idea is from a pasuk in Iyov, which unfortunately I cannot quote, but the gist of it is that people in extreme agony do not really mean what they say. Many times we say things or write things when we are angry or very passionate that we do not really mean. If we would look back a few days later, we might very well regret or dismiss some of those passionate feelings.

Do not judge a fellow Jew for complaining against God until we have been through what this person has. And even if we have been in a similar situation, who are we to tell this person to be quiet?! The calculation is God’s to make not ours.

The lesson I take out of this is that God created all of us with a million unique characteristics. He also knows all the situations that we will find ourselves in, and the level of tolerance that we can have for the negative situations that we are in. We should never complain against God. But even if we do from time to time- most of the time it is because of our pained life. The God understands this anguish and can accept our groans and cries. God is empathetic. This is why He is the ultimate Compassionate Being.

(Taken almost exclusively from Rabbi Frand’s shiur tonight.)

Have a great Shabbos, Yaakov

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