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PARASHAS VAYIKRA - Understanding the Shared Underlying Concept of קרבנות & תפילה

PARASHAS VAYIKRA Understanding the Shared Underlying Concept of קרבנות & תפילה



פרק א'

א:וַיִּקְרָ֖א אֶל־משֶׁ֑ה וַיְדַבֵּ֤ר יְהֹוָה֙ אֵלָ֔יו מֵאֹ֥הֶל מוֹעֵ֖ד לֵאמֹֽרא

ב:דַּבֵּ֞ר אֶל־בְּנֵ֤י יִשְׂרָאֵל֙ וְאָֽמַרְתָּ֣ אֲלֵהֶ֔ם אָדָ֗ם כִּי־יַקְרִ֥יב מִכֶּ֛ם קָרְבָּ֖ן לַֽה' מִן־הַבְּהֵמָ֗ה מִן־הַבָּקָר֙ וּמִן־הַצֹּ֔אן תַּקְרִ֖יבוּ אֶת־קָרְבַּנְכֶֽם


תפילה replaces קרבנות today, understanding קרבנות will give us a greater understanding of תפילה.

There is the self-understood actual sacrificing of a קרבן as well as the financial aspect which is the monetary loss incurred by bringing it.

קרבנות are brought לכפר; the ראשונים explains that this is possible because as the בעל watches the animal being slaughtered, he has כונה that everything he sees should really be happening to him, but due to ה'’s kindness, he is being spared and the animal is taking his place and this therefore helps him come to a place of complete תשובה.

In addition, costs involved in bringing the קרבן also atones for sin. (Throughout the generations, people have expressed monetary loss as a קרבן.)

דם תרתי משמע כפרה – the plural דם is דמים (blood / money) – the sacrifice could have been the easier one – with money alone or with blood as well.

The גמרא תמיד talks about a business in the בית המקדש to facilitate קרבנות – there was a place to buy animals there.

The two intertwined goals that are achieved with both תפילה & קרבנות are כפרה & התקרבות.

One of the major themes in our תפילה is seeking כפרה for our עבירות through תפילה.

תפילה which is במקום קרבנות addresses סליחה.

There is another objective in bringing קרבנות and that is to draw close to Hashem אָדָ֗ם כִּי־יַקְרִ֥יב מִכֶּ֛ם קָרְבָּ֖ן לַֽה'– קרבן from the root קרב i.e. with the intent of becoming close to Hashem. In the case of a sin-offering, it goes as follows: an עבירה separates one from Hashem; the קרבן cleanses one from the sin, a תוצאה of that is that one regains closeness to Hashem.

In the case of other קרבנות, they are to serve on purpose and that is to facilitate התקרבות לה'.

The question is what element in קרבנות brings us closeness to Hashem?

Today, people message and in messaging use shorthand – part of the idea of messaging as opposed to speaking not to have to connect to someone else. (All while getting what it is you need in the least ‘involved’ fashion.)

The original telephone adverts were about connecting with others because talking to others connects one another.

When you talk about hearing a shiur from X – what is the stress? The speaker or the words? You would say the words – content = the shiur.

ברוך אתה – we talk DIRECTLY to Hashem.

However, R’ Chaim Brisker explains that תפילה works a little differently – it is not about talking to Hashem with the nusach – with the words. R’ Chaim explains that תפילה is about עומד לפני המלך.

We find contradictory הלכות about תפילה – in one place we are told that תפילה without כונה is not תפילה, yet we find discussion regarding the first ברבה of ש''ע that if you aren’t מכון whether one is יוצא and today we hold that one is.

He explains that there are 2 parts to תפילה :

1. The awareness that you are עומד לפני המלך - this is the integral part.

2. The understanding of the words -this is not the essential part of the כונה.

תפילה means ,as רחל said נַפְתּוּלֵ֨י אֱלֹהִ֧ים נִפְתַּ֛לְתִּי עִם־אֲחֹתִ֖י גַּם־יָכֹ֑לְתִּי – נַפְתּוּלֵ֨י is to be connected. This is actually the שרש of the word תפלין – connects something. The gemara tells us that Hashem also has תפלין – וְרָאוּ֙ כָּל־עַמֵּ֣י הָאָ֔רֶץ כִּ֛י שֵׁ֥ם יְהֹוָ֖ה נִקְרָ֣א עָלֶ֑יךָ וְיָֽרְא֖וּ מִמֶּֽךָּ – we are connected to Hashem. (Interesting note: When the רמב''ם discusses תפלין he reference it asשל יד תפילה and תפילה של ראש.)

Connected to Hashem – both קרבן and תפילה mean closeness to Hashem.

In summary, a קרבן both connects and atones, as does תפילה.

How does a קרבן connect? If a person sinned, the קרבן, as part of theתשובה process removes the distance that was created by the עבירה. In the case of the other קרבנות, it was simply the reality of being in the presence of Hashem – in the בית המקדש. (This is true too with the elevation felt when one was עלה רגל – that was simply achieved by being in the courtyard of the House of Hashem.)

This is achieved in תפילה simply be engaging in it – like this, one stands before Hashem.

There is a הלכה that every person who brought a קרבן had to be there during the process. Part of the קרבן was to stand before Hashem and have that experience - אָדָ֗ם כִּי־יַקְרִ֥יב מִכֶּ֛ם קָרְבָּ֖ן לַֽה' - that itself was part of the קרבן.

Every act involved in the process of bringing a קרבן was to bring out either of these two aspects.

In summary, davening takes the place of קרבנות. The simple understanding of how the קרבן atones for עבירות is either through the life of the animal or the money that was ‘lost’. With a different angle, it is clear how תפילה replaces קרבנות – in both, כפרה is linked to becoming close to Hashem, this aspect being achieved by being present לפני ה'. In both, when there is no כפרה needed, קרבת אלקים is achieved in the same way.­­­­­­­­­­­­­

מלח – salt is required to be put on every קרבן.

The רמב''םin מורה נבוכים explains this הלכה in the following manner: a קרבן was supposed to be the antithesis of ע''ז, therefore anything done in idolatrous practices were not done with it. He explains that the הלכה forbids us from putting honey or yeast on a קרבן because of this issue. The opposite is true with salt – since it was never used in idolatrous practices, it was an integral part of bringing a קרבן.

There is a מחלוקת ראשונים whether the כהנים had to salt the parts they ate of the קרבן. It would make sense to salt it as for the בעלים מתכפרים, this was just one of the parts of the process. (Those who held otherwise could not have agreed to the רמב''ם’s first point.)

The question is why there is such a stress put on doing everything in the opposite manner that it was done by the גוים, we do not find such an emphasis elsewhere.

It is possible that if we understood the הקרבה to ע''ז, we might understand the emphasis on not doing the same with קרבנות.

The טור has something else to say on the matter of מלח - he says that in the same way as we salt food to bring out flavour, the קרבנות needed to be salted as it was לחם אלקך. It had to something הטור בפיך – that you would eat. Often, a person will invest a lot of money in themselves – think vacations, restaurants, food, clothes, but will become stingy when it comes to spending on מצות.

When we wash for bread, there is a הלכה that the bread must be dipped into salt. (As a result of this, there is a whole discussion aboutמצה on ליל סדר; according to the רמב''ם, the first המוציא must be dipped in חרוסת. The question is whether it should be dipped in salt as it is supposed to be לחם עני and salt gives flavour.)

The שלחן is like the מזבח, the מוציא is like the beginning of a קרבן – to remember that, we put salt on the table and dip the bread into it.

Salt never changes, to the extent that it is used to preserve other foods. A yid must look after their ruchniyus, their kedusha to see that their purity is maintained.

There is another profound connection of salt to קרבנות and that is based on the idea that one should wash מים אחרונים because of danger of מלח סדומית. Understanding this will explain why this is still something done today when there is no longer a fear of this salt that can cause blindness.

The table of סדם is the diametric opposite to הכנסת אורחים. סדם is a selfish society (interestingly, that the wife of לוט refused to give salt for the guest’s food.) The idea of putting salt on the table and dipping the bread into it is to distance ourselves from this mentality.

One of the greatest קרבנות is to give to others – sacrificing from oneself אָדָ֗ם כִּי־יַקְרִ֥יב מִכֶּ֛ם קָרְבָּ֖ן לַֽה'- greatest form of sacrifice.

R’ Aaron Walkin told a story about his grandfather that was related to him by his uncle, R’ Chaim Walkin On ערב פסח, people are very busy with מצות מצה; one year, ערב פסח, he asked his wife to cook a kugel for a recently-widowed woman – a reminder that people were thinking about her. His grandfather was different – he asked his wife to show him how many Kugels she made. He sent this kugel with R’ Chaim in a taxi and told him to be מכון לשם "ולב אלמנה ארנן". While the whole world was busy לשם מצות מצה, his grandfather was busy with this… with כִּי־יַקְרִ֥יב מִכֶּ֛ם.

Animal rights activists will shout loudly about animal rights but, historically, we’ve seen that they care that much about human rights – Nazi Germany is a recent example of this. This is because the ideology is based on a selfish premise as opposed to a selfless premise.

A dog is man’s best friend because it works best that way – no complications, no extending oneself for another.

There is an interesting אבן עזרא related to this on כי יגח שור איש את שור רעהו - when a man’s ox will gore the ox of his friend… He quotes someone a ‘Ben Buta’ who learned that רעהו is a friend of the ox. The only person who could have a friend as an ox is this person says the אבן עזרא.

A קרבן is a selfless thing all the way through - to the extent that the ox is giving up its life to fulfil the תפקיד of man. (רבי told this to the ox who was trying to escape its slaughter, “for this you were created.”) It is a zechus for an animal to be slaughtered, to facilitate man’s תפקיד.

We’ve got to slaughter the סדם– the selfish in order to be מקרב the קרבן – selfless.

מגם לועז)) שלחן has the שרש שלח - Hashem gave us a table in order for us to share it with others.

שלחן is like מזבח and is opposite of סדם; salt represents the antithesis of סדם.

Salt also represents tears. We dip כרפס into salt-water which is symbolic of the tears of the אידן in מצרים.

To understand the connection of קרבן and tears and salt and water, we need to look at an event early on in בראשית.

Initially, the waters were one body, Hashem then split them. The מים תחתונים cried that they would be separated from Hashem – they wanted to remain connected. Hashem promised compensation in the form of the salt (that comes from the bodies of water on Earth) that would be brought with the קרבנות and in that way, the connection they were mourning would still exist.

This explains the interesting wording of עַ֥ל נַהֲר֨וֹת ׀ עַֽל־נַֽהֲר֨וֹת בָּבֶ֗ל שָׁ֣ם יָ֖שַׁבְנוּ גַּם־בָּכִ֑ינוּ בְּ֜זָכְרֵ֗נוּ אֶת־צִיּֽוֹן

The גם references both the Jews who had been exiled and the waters that had both lost their connection to Hashem.

קרבן has salt; salt represents tears of lower waters which was all about connection.

The essence of every קרבן is the longing of a Jew to be close to Hashem and the longing for connection is what goes with every קרבן. When they are replace with תפילה, the same is true.

Chazal tell us that although the gates to תפילה are closed, the gates to tears are always open; our tears are what we put into our תפילה.


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