Torah Fax
Friday, March 14, 2003 - 10 Adar II, 5763

Torah Reading:  Tzav (Leviticus 6:1 - 8:36)
Candle Lighting Time: 5:50 PM
Shabbat Ends: 6:51 PM
Parshat Parah

Eating Out

There are two distinct categories of sacrifices that a Jew could offer in the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. The first group included those sacrifices that would be brought as an atonement for one's transgressions, such as a Chatat, a sin offering, or an Asham, a guilt offering. The general term for such sacrifices is Kodshei Kodashim, the most holy of the holy sacrifices. The second category includes the Shelamim, the peace offering and the Todah, the thanksgiving offering. These are categorized as Kodashim Kalim, lighter or lower levels of holiness.

This week's Parshah of Tzav informs us of the rule that the Kodshei Kodashim must be eaten within the confines of the Holy Temple, while the sacrifices of the Kodashim Kalim may be eaten anywhere in Jerusalem.

We must first ask why there is a need for any restriction with regard to where a sacrifice can be eaten. Once a sacrifice is slaughtered in the Temple, certain portions must be offered on the altar. But after that has occurred, why does the Torah restrict where the rest of the animal may be eaten? Secondly, why is there a distinction between the sin offerings - that can only be eaten in the Temple - and the other sacrifices that can be eaten anywhere in Jerusalem?

Though it is not readily seen from a superficial reading of the text, eating of the sacrifice is actually an integral part of the sacrificial process. The Talmud, while discussing the sin offering, tells us that even after the requisite portions are offered on the altar, true atonement isn't attained until the kohein - priest actually ate the sacrifice.

The Hebrew word for sacrifice is Korban, which actually means "drawing near." The purpose of a sacrifice is to close the gap that exists between G‑d and the Jewish people, as well as the distance three might between two Jews. True, any Mitzvah can help us get closer to G‑d and one another, but the Korban experience is considered to be the most dramatic form of achieving that goal, as well as the most enduring.

To illustrate just how permanent the accomplishments of a sacrifice are, the Torah requires us to actually partake of the sacrifice, to eat it. Eating, more than any other physical exercise, brings about the unity of body and soul. Through eating, a person is able to stay connected with his soul. This bringing together of the spiritual and the physical is exactly what the entire sacrificial process attempts to accomplish. It is for this reason that even when the altar burns certain portions of the sacrifice, it is called "Achilat  HaMizbeach - the eating of the altar." This suggests that a Korban has the effect of unifying the soul of the world, G‑d, with the body, or the physical aspect, of the universe.

Chassidic thought also notes that eating reflects the idea of permanence. What one eats becomes one's own flesh and blood - it is internalized and becomes one with the body. With regard to a Korban, we must realize that though a sacrifice creates a bond between ourselves and G‑d, we must make sure that that relationship does not dissipate with the passage of time. Eating the sacrifice exemplifies that idea. By eating the Korban, we show that we want to internalize our bond with G‑d and want that to become a permanent and inseparable part of our existence.

But environment is also important. Though peripheral in nature, our environment sets the tone and direction for many of our experiences in life. To eat a Korban and internalize our bond with G‑d, it was key to make sure we did so in a correct and holy setting. Thus, a Korban generally had to be eaten within the holy confines of Jerusalem. Jerusalem, we are told means "Yir'ah Shalem - complete and perfect awe for G‑d." In such a holy and spiritual setting, the bond to be developed with G‑d, symbolized by the eating of the Korban, could be properly nurtured and developed.

A sin offering, however, which was brought as part of the repentance process when one would attempt to repair a break in one's relationship with G‑d, required an even holier setting. The penitent had to be in the Temple environs themselves in order to internalize this newly established bond with G‑d in the most pristine environment possible.

Our sages tell us that when Moshiach comes there will be no need for sin offerings. The sole offering we will need to bring in the Temple will be the Thanksgiving offering. Despite the fact that we will no longer need to bridge the gap caused by sin, we will always need to express our gratitude to G‑d as a way of getting constantly closer to Him.

Moshiach Matters

Recently, a prominent Jewish figure declared that since the Jews survived 1900 years in exile, we can survive another 1900 years without Moshiach (G‑d forbid). He argues that we have a good life both materially and spiritually - there are yeshivahs for our children as well as advanced yeshivahs for adults, etc, etc. So dark is the exile, that someone can actually think it is a good place for a Jew to be - G‑d forbid! (The Rebbe, Parshat Tzav 1985)

Moshiach - Its a Jewish issue. For more info, visit

© 2001- 2005 Chabad of the West Side