PARSHAS VAYIKRAH

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PARSHAS VAYIKRAH

         The ritual sacrifice is one the holiest mitzvos in the Torah. Almost the entire book of Vayikrah is dedicated to the laws of sacrificing to the Almighty. The idea behind a sacrifice is discussed at length by a number of early commentaries (such as Maimonidies and Nachmonidies), and is an entire discussion in itself. However, there is a different point brought out almost roundabout in this week’s parsha that needs explanation.

            In the very beginning of Vayikrah, the parsha tells us the laws of one who brings forth a sacrifice to the Almighty. The language the Torah uses is an “adam” who brings a sacrifice. Rashi is perplexed why the Torah felt the need to use such semantics in regards to bringing a sacrifice. Why say anything at all about who’s bringing it? Why not just say when one brings a sacrifice, and leave out the whole “adam” part all together? The answer Rashi gives is mindboggling. The Torah is telling the Jewish people a message about what type of animal to bring as a sacrifice. The Torah is giving a warning to make sure that all animals brought as a sacrifice are not from stolen goods. Just as Adam, the first human being ever created, never brought a sacrifice from anything stolen (everything was his to do as he pleased) so to the rest of mankind should only bring a sacrifice from their own flock. Now let’s just think for a moment! When one brings a sacrifice, what are they doing? They’re not just making a fat barbecue, or going on a vacation to see the holy temple; but in essence they’re doing one of the loftiest mitzvos in the entire Torah. Bringing a sacrifice to the Almighty is connecting with spiritual greatness. Who in their right mind would think of doing such a holy act with stolen goods? It’s a contradiction to itself!

            Sadly, this Rashi is touching on a phenomenon that all too many people suffer from. Everyone wants to achieve greatness. Whether in business, sports, education, or spiritual heights, everyone has the drive for greatness inside of them. So much so, that sometimes it doesn’t matter who’s in their way. The mindset is “I’m doing something extremely important, and nothing or no one will stand in my way”! Even if it means cheating, lying, stealing, or acting with improper conduct, all is fair on the rise to the top. The Torah is telling us that this is not the right approach. There are steps on the ladder to the top, and every rung must be utilized. There are no short cuts. When there is a desire to connect to the Almighty, it must be done with everything else the Torah mandates in mind. Stealing in order to reach an ultimate connection with the Almighty is really severing that connection. The Almighty wants us to achieve greatness, and greatness lies in the ability to accomplish lofty things, while keeping in touch with the little things on the way. When a sacrifice is brought with all the little things in place and done properly, then it is truly a holy mitzvah!

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