This parsha-post should be a merit for a refuah shelema for Yitzchak ben Sarah, and Hadasa bas Miriam.
I sincerely wish you all a joyous and peaceful Shabbos!
This week’s parsha, Emor, imparts to us profound lessons of responsibility, giving, and the power of our words.
“Daber el-Aharon v’el banav v’et kol-Bnei Yisrael v’amarta alayhem: Ish ish mibayt Yisrael u’min-hagair b’Yisrael asher yakriv karbano l’chal-nidreihem ul’chal-nidvosam asher-yakrivu la’Hashem l’olah lirtzonchem tamim zachar babakar bachsavim u’va’izim. “
” The Lord spoke to Moses saying: ‘Speak to Aaron and his sons and to all the Israelite people, and say to them: When any man of the house of Israel or of the strangers in Israel, presents a burnt-offering as his offering, for any of the vow or any of the free-will (donation) offerings that they offer to the Lord, to be acceptable in your favor, it must be a male without blemish, from cattle, sheep, or goats.'”
Both of the korbanos enumerated in the above verses, are korban-olahs– translated as “burnt” or “elevation” offerings. But the two, “nidreihem – (offerings of) their vows”, and “nidvosam – their free-will donations”, have a few distinctions.
Quoting Talmud (Megillah), Rashi explains one difference for us (I paraphrase a bit):
If one brings a korban of a neder (vow), one he seriously pledged to bring, and it is blemished or lost, he must offer a replacement animal, for he’s bound to fulfill his vow. Once he consecrates it to G-d’s service in the Mishkan or Bais haMikdash, it is his responsibility to treat the precious offering with great consideration. Once he stated his vow, it’s binding. It cannot be forsaken by carelessness or neglect.
However, if it is a nadav (donation), that he offers out of free will, propelled by no promise… If the animal of his choice is maimed in some way, or missing, and therefore unfit to offer, the potential donor is not chayev (liable) to replace it for offering, since his offering was of a personal spur of simple desire to give- just for the sake of giving.
We can see that vowing to bring a korban, declaring, and pledging, is a serious business. When we make a promise, it entails a great responsibility to fulfill it, and remain true to our words. Hopefully, we are all taught this principle from a very young age.
But does the latter case, of the nadav, and the fact that if his korban is marred, he needn’t assume any responsibility, seem rather lenient, almost lax? We could argue with this question. We certainly can’t challenge the dictates of the Torah! Also, we cannot doubt this individual who offers a nadav… Truly, giving for the sake of giving, for the love of Hashem, desire for His avoda (service), and striving for this connection, is reaching for the highest levels.
The Ralbag highlights another difference between our two korbanos:
For the neder-sacrifice, one first makes his declaration to offer it, and then gives it.
For the nadav, one gives his gift, and then officially consecrates it.
We can deduct from these enlightening commentaries, that once we speak a neder, we are strictly bound to enforce our words to the best of our ability. The neder-sacrifice seems to represent the Attribute, or Sefirah, or Gevurah. This discipline, structure, severity.
When we bestow a nadav, we just give with all our hearts. We don’t even think to proclaim a pledge. We present our gift, and only afterwards declare it. This reflects the Sefirah of Chesed– boundless loving kindness, like that of Avraham Avinu and Sarah Imeinu.
Throughout our lives, we are going to make many sacrifices, for family, friends, and even to pursue our own goals. When we make promises, bein adam lechavero (between person and their fellow) and bein adam laMakom (between person and Hashem), strengthening relationships and commitments, we must uphold our responsibility to carry out those nedarim. We were given the strength, and no one can fulfill those promises and goals but us. We can’t ignore them or try to run away from them. Embrace them. Make sure you follow through, even if it takes a while. Even when you ‘lose sight’ of it for a bit.
We bring many offerings throughout our days; Although we can’t bring physical korbanos without our beloved Bait haMikdah (may it be rebuilt speedily in our days!), each and every one of our tefillos are accepted as a precious offering to Hashem. Every tear we shed, for our losses as a nation, and our strivings to cleave to a higher purpose. Even the Torah we study, especially those subjects pertaining to the laws and details of the korbanos, are accepted as if we actually performed this ‘lost’ mitzvah. When it comes to ‘offering ourselves up’, just give. Remember, it’s all for the Boss. You don’t have to calculate every prayer you recite, or pasuk you study. Don’t overthink things– you needn’t make a vow for every step of your growth, every offering. Just give, just grow, just love. Then you’ll recognize the beauty and holiness of your actions and words.