Torah Fax  
Friday - March 27, 2009 - 2 Nissan, 5769

Torah Reading: Vayikra (Leviticus 1:1 - 5:26)
Candle Lighting time: 6:57 PM
Shabbat ends: 7:58 PM

Holy Chutzpah 
This week's Torah portion of VaYikra features the many types of animal sacrifices that could be brought in the Temple. The Torah makes a point of saying that all sacrifices could be made with only three animal types: sheep, goats and oxen.


Maimonides writes in his Guide For The Perplexed that the reason for the Torah's selection of these three species is connected with the notion that the sacrifices were designed to repudiate the various forms of idolatry that were prevalent at that time. He writes that the Egyptians worshipped the lamb, the Babylonians worshipped the goat and the Indians worshipped the cow.  Whenever any of these was offered as a sacrifice in the Temple, it reinforced the idea that these forms of idolatry were meaningless.


Chassidic thought offers an alternative explanation for the selection of these three species and it is based on a deeper understanding of what sacrifices were all about. Chassidic thought begins by quoting the famous commentator Rabbeinu Bachaye who explains that the Hebrew word for sacrifice, Korban, is etymologically related to the word Karov, meaning to get close. A korban is thus a way of getting close to G‑d.


In order to get closer to G‑d, one must first consider what it is that separates himself from Him. Each one of us has two energies, one positive and one negative, one is known as the G‑dly soul and one is known in Kaballah as the animalistic soul. Our G‑dly soul's interest is to maintain a close relationship with G‑d. But the G‑dly soul's ambition is hampered by the animal soul's desire to satisfy its own selfish interests.


There are two ways to overcome the problem that our animal soul has created. The first is to shun the animal soul and battle it. The second approach however is to convince the animal soul itself to shed its negative traits and to get closer to G‑d.


In order to accomplish this objective, one must understand the nature of one's individual animal soul. Not all animal souls are created equally. Some may be compared to a goring ox - the type of personality that has no regard for other people and will aggressively trample anything or anyone that gets in his way.


The spiritual idea behind bringing a Korban, a sacrifice, of an ox is to get that raging bull to use its strength and determination for positive and constructive matters. Once the energy and drive of the "ox soul" is harnessed, no obstacle, no matter how great, will be able to stop this person on his path of Mitzvahs. Thus, the goring ox can become a passionate force for all that is good and holy.


There are other animals that are more like a timid lamb. A lamb, though very innocent and pure, is totally absorbed in itself and its own desire to eat and satisfy its appetite.

The person with a lamb personality has to use that drive for self gratification and employ it in the service of G‑d. Rather than focusing on physical pleasures in which to indulge, when a person brings his lamb Korban - when he tries to bring his lamb personality close to G‑d - he discovers the joy and satisfaction in doing spiritual things. He realizes the pleasure there is in helping another person or the blissful state that can be reached when praying to G‑d.


The third animal type is the goat, a brazen individual. This animal soul has a lot of chutzpah and is not intimidated by anyone. This negative personality can also be transformed into something positive. When one employs his chutzpah in a holy way, he realizes that he doesn't have to be a follower of any and every new fad and trend. The chutzpah teaches him to be a leader, to be unconventional and not to be impressed by the masses. In the words of the Mishnah: "Be bold as a leopard - not to be influenced by peer pressure."


The prophet tells us of the wolf lying with the lamb in the future Messianic Age. One interpretation of this phenomenon is that the animal nature within people (the wolf or the non-kosher energy) will be transformed and even that negative power will be included with our good traits (the lamb or the kosher qualities) in our service of G‑d. 

Moshiach Matters

There are those that mistakenly think that it is good for them in Exile, G‑d forbid. They say that we must be thankful that G‑d has granted us the ability to learn Torah and do Mitzvahs and live in fine Jewish communities... But we must not make that mistake! What value do our spiritual accomplishments have in comparison with the great revelations of the coming of Moshiach? We cannot rest until the complete redemption has arrived! (The Rebbe, Parshat Tzav, 1988)

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