Parashas Vayikra

This week’s parashah discusses various offerings. Among them are sin-offerings, enabling a person to atone for sin. The topic of sin-offerings raises a general question: How is it possible for us to atone for sin? If, in a fit of insanity, someone takes a club and smashes his front window, he is left with a shattered window. Later he may regret what he did, but, given the laws of nature, his regret will not put the window back together again. Similarly, when a person commits a sin, he damages his soul. How does repentance undo this damage?
In Ohel Yaakov, parashas Bereishis, the Maggid discusses this question, and turns to two verses in Tehillim for the answer. The first of these is from Tehillim 51, Dovid HaMelech’s prayer for forgiveness after his sin with Batsheva. Dovid entreats (Tehillim 51:12): “Create for me a pure heart, O God, and infuse me anew with a proper spirit.” Dovid knows, explains the Maggid, that his sin corrupted his soul, but he appeals to Hashem’s power to restore his soul to its original pristine state, as if created anew. In the second verse that the Maggid quotes, Dovid declares (ibid. 25:11): “For the sake of Your Name, Hashem, pardon my sin, for it is great.” Dovid asks Hashem to restore his soul for the sake of His Name, which identifies Him as the source of all existence. Hashem, as the creator of all things, has the power to recreate a person’s soul after it has been shattered by sin.
A similar idea is reflected in a verse in this week’s haftarah (Yeshayah 43:25): “I, it is I, who wipes away your rebellious acts, for My sake, and your sins I do not recall.” This verse, too, speaks of Hashem restoring us for His sake. In his commentary on the haftarah in Kochav MiYaakov, the Maggid notes how the end of this verse points to a further aspect of Hashem’s kindness toward us: After He finishes repairing us of the damage caused by sin, He “forgets” the entire episode, and does not shame us by reminding us of the sorry state we had been in.
David Zucker, Site Administrator

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