Thursday, May 21, 2015

469 - Vayikra

Sefer Vayikra introduces the concept of korbanos. The offering of a korban is a function which brings one close to Hashem. In general, writes Rav Wolbe (Alei Shur vol. II p. 352), one does not have to boost himself up in order to achieve this connection. As a matter of fact, the very opposite is true. This relationship can only be attained when one submits himself before the Creator.

The korban expresses this complete submission: A person brings a korban to the Bais Hamikdosh and the kohein slaughters it, sprinkles its blood and offers its limbs onto the mizbeiach. All the while the penitent individual perceives all that was done to the animal as if it was performed on his own flesh and blood. "In reality" he muses, "It should have been my soul that was sacrificed, my blood sprinkled and my limbs offered before Hashem." This submission in and of itself promotes the closeness to Hashem. 

With this in mind, we can understand the introduction to tefillas Shachris. Immediately after birchos hashachar, whereby we acknowledge that Hashem is the Creator of the world and it is He Whom we must thank for everything we have, the tefillah continues with "Ribon kol Ha'olamim lo al tzidkoseinu." We declare that it is not in the merit of our righteousness that we approach Hashem in prayer. "What are we? What is our life? What is our kindness? What is our righteousness? What is our salvation? What is our strength? What is our might?" Before petitioning our Creator we must realize exactly where we stand in relation to Him. If one does not subjugate himself before Him, then his prayer cannot be considered a true prayer.

The tefillah continues, "However, we are Your nation, members of your covenant, the offspring of Avraham, Yitzchak and Yaakov." We understand that true greatness is directly proportionate to a person's submission before Hashem, as we have gleaned from our forefathers.

This leads into the korbanos recited thereafter. As mentioned above, the idea of a korban is the stark realization of the person offering the sacrifice that in reality it is he himself who deserves to be sacrificed. Ingraining this acute sense of submission is imperative before commencing pesukei d'zimra and the rest of davening.

We should take a moment to remind ourselves of the awesome beneficence of our King Who, in the days of the Bais Hamikdosh, allowed us to literally save our skin by offering an animal in our stead. The daily recitation of the korbanos, and the krias haTorah of the next few weeks, should arouse us to the greatness of The Creator and the severity of disobeying Him. This will in turn produce a greater level of submission which is the main ingredient in the recipe for a connection with Hashem!

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