The Living Torah is a weekly publication distributed in and around North West London. Written by members of Hasmonean High School's Sixth Form programme - we aim to bring you divrei torah for your Shabbat table each and everyweek.

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Friday, 19 March 2010

A Goat, Challot and The Arei Miklot

“He shall lean his hands on the goat’s head and slaughter it before Hashem, in the place where burnt-offerings are slaughtered. (If it is slaughtered with the intention of being a sin-offering, then) it is a valid sin-offering.

An obvious question on this arises. Why does the חַטָּאת have to be slaughtered in the same place on it as theעוֹלָה ? Surely the two have no connection to each other as the חַטָּאת is brought by someone who sins unintentionally whereas the עוֹלָה is a sacrifice brought out of free will.

Rav Shimshon Rafael Hirsch explains that עוֹלָה also has a second meaning - to raise. The Korban raises the owner from their current state to a higher state in order to bring himself closer to Hashem.
The Midrash Vayikra Rabba however, says that the עוֹלָה is to atone for sinful thoughts and fantasies that appear in peoples minds or imagination. This happens to everyone. This differs significantly to a חַטָּאת, where although the sin was בִּשְׁגָגָה - unintentional, if he would have been more careful it would not have occurred.

People seeing him bringing a חַטָּאת may look badly on him because of his actions. Therefore the Torah instructs that the owner places his hands in the same way as the עוֹלָה, the voluntary offering to save the feelings of the person offering the sacrifice.

There is a story with Rabbi Yisroel Salanter, the founder of the Musar movement that exemplifies this point. He was once invited out for a Friday night meal. His host noticed when it came to eating that his wife had forgotten to cover the two challos. He flew into a large temper in front of his wife and started shouting at her in front everyone present. “It’s a disgrace! How can you have forgotten something like that?” She immediately apologised profusely and rectified it, but was obviously embarrassed. After the meal the great Rav approached the man and asked him “What is the reason we cover the challos?” The husband replied “In order the challos don’t feel inferior to the Kiddush wine.” Rabbi Yisrael rebuked him in a slight manner “You were concerned with the feelings of an inanimate object, but did not take into consideration the feelings of your wife?”

The Torahs thought for both human feelings are also seen with the Arei Miklot. Many special sign-posts were erected to direct people. This was so that people who had killed unintentionally would not have to be put into the embarrassing situation of having to ask for directions to the Arei Miklot where they will be safe from the family of the murdered person.

With this we can more fully understand the Mishna in Pirkei Avos which teaches that יהי כבוד חברך חביב עליך כשלך, you should respect other peoples honour as your own.

By Raphael Waller

Shabbat Shalom

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