In the Weeds

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Sometimes reading the Parsha feels like doing homework, especially when it seems to get bogged down in details. Rav Samson Rephael Hirsch thought that the seemingly insignificant details are actually profound ideas if we just knew how to look at them. This module presents one amazing idea from Rav Hirsch which emerges from the granular evidence of the Parsha.

 

One of the korbanot discussed in Vayikra are brought as birds, as opposed to livestock. Rav Hirsch notices there are some differences in the avodah for a bird korban versus livestock and thinks these differences teach an incredible lesson.

The Evidence

 

Livestock Birds
Slaughtered with a knifeĀ  Ripped apart with fingernail
Blood sprinkled with finger Blood pressed out from neck
Brought by anyone Brought by someone who has experienced bodily trauma or is too poor to afford livestock

 

The Idea

Rav Hirsch explains that birds in the Torah represent people who undergo traumatic ordeals. They are portrayed as constantly moving and never having a permanent home. This is reflected in their more violent avodah where they are ripped open and squeezed for blood. Rav Hirsch says that the Torah is conveying that even people who constantly suffer have a method of serving God. In his words

“Even if one is stripped of all external protection… even of one’s body is violently torn asunder and left without blood or sustenance, nonetheless, by his very suffering he sustains the holy no less than one who serves God by his deeds. Both aspects, joyful action as well as devoted suffering, play a role in life as lived on Jewish heights.

People who undergo trauma and suffering have an incredible power to achieving holiness if they cling to God though it all.