Parshat Vayikra

Posted on July 16, 2008

In parshas Vayikra, Hashem told Moses the specific laws of korbanot (offerings). The Torah goes into specific details about how people could repent for their sins by providing offerings to Hashem. The severity of their sins and whether the sins were intentional or unintentional would determine which animal was used. Whether it would be a bull, male or female cattle, sheep, goats, or a turtle dove was contingent on the sin.

It is interesting that a sin done unintentionally requires a larger korban than a sin that was done intentionally. This is because when one errs unintentionally, one can rationalize his sin by convincing himself that his sin was just an accident. This is worse than an intentional sin, because one will just see his sin as being unintentional and rationalize that his sin was not as grave as it really is. Therefore, a larger, more expensive korban is required for such a sin so that the sinner can recognize what he had done wrong and become more cautious.

Parshas Vayikra later describes three unique sin offerings if a high priest, a king, or an entire nation sins. In perek 4 pasuk 22, it says “When a ruler sins, and commits one from among all the commandments of Hashem that may not be done…” This verse is very interesting because it starts with the word “when,” unlike the three previous passages which started with the words ‘If a person sins…’ This implies that a ruler’s sin is inevitable. A ruler who holds different responsibilities than a common person is more bound to sin. When a ruler sins, it is seen as more grave than when a common person sins. A ruler who sins is required to sacrifice one unblemished male goat to Hashem, which like an unintentional sinner! He is required to sacrifice the larger korban. This shows that a ruler, a person who has more responsibilities and power than a common person, also needs to give a bigger sacrifice to repent for his sins. Their sins, however large or small, are seen as much graver than if a common person were to commit the same sins.  

We can see from this that today we all have a position to be a leader. As leaders, our actions are important because we can be seen as role models, therefore, we are held in a higher esteem and G-d’s expectations are even higher. By repenting more eminently, Hashem wants us as leaders to be cautious to not sin by mistake and to realize that we are role models.