This shiur is dedicated לזכר נשמת יהודה בן אשר, Adi Salomon’s father.
It’s hard to learn ויקרא, since it’s all about sacrifices, with lots of gross anatomic details that have no relevance to our lives today. But if we think about the word קרבן, it doesn’t really mean sacrifice—giving something up; it comes from the root קרב, coming close. The central point is not the offering; it is the ability to come closer to הקב״ה through the offering.
The structure of the parasha reflects this. We often think about קרבנות as כפרה, atonement for sins. This is the way the Ramban presents it:
But the sin offerings come later in the parasha. It starts with קרבנות נדבה, voluntary offerings, the עולה and שלמים, and each of these ends with the phrase אשה ריח ניחח לה׳, which comes from a much earlier קרבן:
ריח הניחח is related to נחת רוח. When ה׳ accepts our offerings, He “sheps nachas” from us. ה׳ doesn’t need our sacrifices; He wants our gifts and the spirit in which they are brought.
It is not the value of the sacrifices that matters; there is a special emphasis on the gifts of the poor:
Rabbi Liebtag points out that the last time anyone had offered עלות ושלמים was back at הר סיני,right before the giving of the לוחות:
After that, בני ישראל sinned with the עגל, and they lost their connection to הקב״ה. These commandments about קרבנות signal that ה׳ is amenable to restoring that connection. It is part of ויקרא אל משה. In the previous chapter (שמות פרק מ) ולא יכל משה לבוא אל אהל מועד כי שכן עליו הענן; וכבוד ה׳ מלא את המשכן׃. Now, ה׳ calls to Moshe (ויקרא אל משה) to allow him into the משכן, that the relationship between ה׳ and בני ישראל has been restored. But that is on ה׳'s side. We still need to make the offerings to restore that relationship.
What do sacrifices have to do with our relationship with ה׳?
Our relationship with ה׳ should be based on love:
Rav Dessler explains that we love that which we give to, not that which we take from:
As the כתב והקבלה said, what ה׳ wants from our קרבנות is our love, which comes from our sense of giving, and it is that which brings us closer (קרוב) to הקב״ה.
I never knew Adi’s father. But we know from his daughter the values that he represented, as she has given so much to our community and created that love and that relationship that the Kollel Torah Mitzion shlichim engender. יהי זכרו ברוך.