Parshas Shmini- The Obligations of a Holy Tzibbur

By BJLife/Reb Dovid Fink

Posted on 04/09/21

Parshas HaShavua Divrei Torah sponsored by
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After Moshe is instructed to appoint Aharon as Kohen Gadol, one of his first acts is to review the first Korbanos to be brought in the Mishkan.  He tells Aharon to bring a Korban Chattas and Oleh to gain forgiveness for himself and for Bnei Yisroel and then to bring another Korban to be M’chaper for the people. (Shmini, 9:7)  If the first Korban was to be M’chaper for Aharon and the people, why was a second Korban necessary to gain forgiveness for the people?  Many Mepharshim explain that Aharon needed to be granted forgiveness for the role he played in the Eigel Hazahav.  This helps us understand why Ahron needed to bring a Korban for himself but not why the people needed two Karbanos.

The Meshach Chachma explains that the people also needed to first be granted forgiveness for the Eigel before any other Karbanos could be brought since they were principally responsible for causing Ahron to participate in the Eigel.  Once Ahron and Bnei Yisroel were given a kapara for the Eigel, then he was able to bring later Karbanos to gain forgiveness for their other failings.  We learn from here how heavy is the responsibility for leading someone else to Aveira. 

All too often we are subjected to images from the front page of prominent newspapers of outwardly Torah observant Jews being led away in handcuffs facing serious criminal charges.  From the East coast and chickens to the West Coast with meat and back to bribery, corruption and organ sales in the East, this has become an all too familiar scene.  It is simply too easy to distant ourselves from these massive Chilul Hashems by going about our business in an upstanding manner.  The lesson from these P’sukim is that that is not enough. Ahron could not gain a Kapara for the people until both he and them first gained forgiveness for the Eigel. 

As Hashem’s ambassadors in this world, it is our job, collectively, to show the Umos HaOlam how to live.  When one of us fails at that responsibility, we all fail in our mandate.  Only through our commitment to excel at these responsibilities can we hope to overcome the damage done by the few who fail.  It is not enough to be honest.  We must go out of our way to avoid even the appearance of impropriety.  It is not enough to simply be concerned for each other; rather our compassion and rehabilitative actions must be limitless.  It is not enough to simply do our part.  We must set the standard for the world to follow. 

As our representative, Ahron could not attain a kapara for us until he first received one for the Eigel on our behalf.  We need to do the same with respect to these Chilul Hashems and unacceptable conduct.  Perhaps when we are able to achieve this level, our own people will also raise their conduct to a more appropriate status.