Sins, sinners and atonement is God’s job. Our job is to show love, sensitivity, understanding and compassion.
By: Rabbi Ari Enkin, Rabbinic Director, United with Israel
This week’s Torah portion is “Tzav” (Leviticus 6:1–8:36), and in it we once again delve into the topic of the many different types and categories of sacrifices that were brought to the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. Not only did each type have its own laws, in terms of qualifications, preparations and the actual method of offering, but even the location where each sacrifice was to be offered in the Temple was subject to rules and regulations.
Two very different types of sacrifices were offered in the same place in the Temple courtyard: the “Olah offering” and the “sin offering.” There were several different types of Olah offerings. One was for a person who “almost sinned” and offers a sacrifice as a form of appeasement.
The more famous type of Olah sacrifice was the “national offering” that was brought twice daily, morning and afternoon, every single day of the year. The priest would bring it on behalf of the entire nation. It was essentially the offering that kept the Holy Temple functioning. The “sin offering,” well, that’s an obvious one. A person who sinned would bring a sacrifice as a form of atonement.
The obvious question is asked: Why is it that the Olah offering and the Sin offering were made in the same place? They seem to be quite different.
If the sin offering were offered in its own location, everyone would know that the person bringing an offering in that location had sinned. But “hiding” the sin offering in a location where other types of sacrifices were offered as well would save the sinner embarrassment; onlookers would not know whether the sacrifice being offered by so-and-so was the national offering, an appeasement offering or a sin offering!
Indeed, God has no interest in embarrassing sinners! He merely wants them to realize they were wrong, repent, and return to Him!
The message is clear. It is not our job to embarrass people or make them feel badly even when they may deserve it. Sins, sinners and atonement is God’s job. Our job is to show love, sensitivity, understanding and compassion to everyone, regardless of the mistakes they make.
For more insights by Rabbi Enkin, click on the links below.
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