Parshat Vayikra

By:  Shabbos Kestenbaum | HA Member

Sometimes in a fraught relationship, apologizing only goes so far. Although there’s reconciliation, it can feel as if the connection just isn’t the same. Interestingly enough, the Korban Olah offers a fresh perspective on the issue. 

The first three Perakim of this week’s Parsha discusses Nedavos, voluntary Korbanos brought to the Mishkan. Rashi in Mesaches Yoma 36a notes these Korbanos act as an atonement for failing to perform positive mitzvahs. For example, if an individual missed the opportunity to daven Shacharis, he would bring an Olah. 

Strangely, that very same Mesaches on 86a notes that if someone failed to perform a mitzvah, he is forgiven simply by doing teshuva! So if Teshuva alone acts as an atonement, why the need to bring an Olah at all?! Furthermore, shouldn’t an Olah be a mandatory Korban, just like any other Korban one would give for sinning?

Rabbeinu Yonah in Sha’arei Teshuva answers that although the individual won’t be punished due to his teshuva alone, the added on Korban demonstrates the desire to mend his behavior with Hashem.

Rather than simply apologizing, the individual wants to strengthen the relationship and shows his determination through the Korban. Why settle for acceptance when you can achieve the exceptional? 

As Rabbi Dovid Rosman of Aish Hatorah poignantly addresses in Torah Connections, in order to restore any relationship, one has to want the relationship. If the Olah was mandatory, it wouldn’t show true desire on behalf of the sinner in bringing it. By going above and beyond what one is called to do, he displays a sense of leadership and determination in not just returning to a relationship but rebuilding one. 

This time of increasing isolation and distance from those around us also acts as a time of unprecedented connectivity and closeness. Use the situation to promote, sustain, and remind relationships in all facets: parent to child, student to teacher, madrich to chanich. By using this moment in time to reaffirm and rebuilt, we elevate the status of the Korbanos and indeed, our relationships as well.