"We are closer to G-d when we are asking the questions, than when we think we have the answers" Heschel

Thursday, March 18, 2010

To be as free as Adam

FNQ – Parsha thought

Many commentators deal with a word in the very beginning of Parshas VaYikra that presents some difficulty. “...Adam ki yakriv mikem korban la’Shem....” (When a man among you brings a sacrifice to Hashem). The word “Adam” seems to be superfluous; is it not obvious that the verse is addressing humans? However, as conditioned explorers of the Torah we know that its depth is infinite and even one dot is not extraneous, let alone an entire word. What is the reason for this word Adam?

Rashi comments, based on Chazal, that from the word Adam we learn a very significant law pertaining to the rules of sacrifices. He says that the word “Adam” should cause us to recall Adam harishon, the first man, and draw a parallel from him to the individual offering the korban. “Just as Adam harishon was the sole owner of all things in the world and therefore could not have possibly transgressed the prohibition of theft, so too when an individual brings a sacrifice to Hashem he must make sure that in order to do so he has no stolen.”. The Halacha that a Korban cannot be brought from stolen property is a phenomenal study, however we will focus on the idea that this rule is learned from Adam harishon. What is the reason that this rule is derived from Adam?
The Sfas Emes (5635), Ohr HaChayim (on the pasuk) and others present beautiful teachings based on this parallel. Let us focus on that of the Kli Yakar. Adam HaRishon was completely alone in this world. This gave him, as Rashi pointed out, ownership over all creations. Additionally, this reality emphasizes that all of Adam’s actions and behaviors stemmed from absolute individuality and uniqueness. He didn’t have peers or social dynamics that pressured or influenced him. All of his achievements or failures, successes or mistakes were his own. As citizens of a worldwide community of seven billion such a reality seems very foreign. Can we imagine, even if only in a totally theoretical way, what it would be like to make decisions that emanate from a pure and unadulterated self? This was Adam. While this reality gave him nobody to blame and no excuses to shield him from his wrongdoings, it simultaneously is the source for an exhilarating and invigorating state of mind. I am in control – hakol talui bi. It is a sense of royalty and unbelievable power.
Therefore, says that Kli Yakar, when one wants to approach Hashem through a Korban, or any area of avoda for that matter, it should come from the same existentially alone mind set that personified Adam. This is also the implication of another word in the verse “mikem”, from you. A person must always strive that his service of the Ribbono Shel Olam is of purely individual origin and is not the result of external pressures. The way that one can achieve “korban”, approaching and coming close to Hashem, is only if it is truly he who is stepping forward to come near and not a display of fake and impersonal behaviors. The Kli Yakar continues by saying that this the deeper meaning of the Gemara in Shabbos 28b: “the animal that Adam harishon offered as a sacrifice had one horn”. This represents the oneness and unique personal nature that was found in every detail of Adam's service.
Perhaps, in honor of the upcoming holiday season, we will conclude by connecting “Adam” to our celebration of Pesach. “In every generation one is obligated to view himself as one who is presently leaving Egypt). In the sefer Derech HaMelech by the Rebbe of Piaszecna, may Hashem avenge his blood, there is an explanation of this charge. People often become lost in the mess of life's highs and lows and lose a connection with their “atzmo”, essential self. Our goal in experiencing yetziat mitzrayim is to find the point within us that Adam had, our “self”. We must experience redemption from our personal Egypt. Let our self shine through all of the pressures and forces that try to impose on us to be everything but ourselves. May we be zocheh, as Adam was, to have a geulah from a world which tries to steal our self from us and live every moment of our lives as pure, untainted individuals. What is a more perfect time to begin to come to this self awareness than our current season of cleaning out all of the chametz in our souls?!

Good Shabbos

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