This week’s Parsha, Parshas Vayikra discusses the variety of Korbanos. The Korban Olah and Korban Mincha, Korban Shlomim, and Korban Chatas. Regarding the entire nation, the Pasuk says:
יג וְאִ֨ם כׇּל־עֲדַ֤ת יִשְׂרָאֵל֙ יִשְׁגּ֔וּ וְנֶעְלַ֣ם דָּבָ֔ר מֵעֵינֵ֖י הַקָּהָ֑ל וְ֠עָשׂ֠וּ אַחַ֨ת מִכׇּל־מִצְוֺ֧ת יְהֹוָ֛ה אֲשֶׁ֥ר לֹא־תֵעָשֶׂ֖ינָה וְאָשֵֽׁמוּ׃:
יד וְנֽוֹדְעָה֙ הַֽחַטָּ֔את אֲשֶׁ֥ר חָטְא֖וּ עָלֶ֑יהָ וְהִקְרִ֨יבוּ הַקָּהָ֜ל פַּ֤ר בֶּן־בָּקָר֙ לְחַטָּ֔את וְהֵבִ֣יאוּ אֹת֔וֹ לִפְנֵ֖י אֹ֥הֶל מוֹעֵֽד:
13 “And should the entire Congregation of Israel make an error, and should something be hidden from the eyes of the congregation, and they should do one of the Commandments of Hashem which must not be done, and they be guilty…”
14 “…And when the sin becomes known, the transgression which they did, then the Congregation shall bring a young bull for a sin-offering, and they shall bring it before the Tent of Meeting.”
How is it possible that everyone, every single person in כלל ישראל does the same sin altogether? Ok, fine, you sin. But it wouldn’t make sense if everyone did the exact same sin at the same time together as one unit. Rashi gives a satisfying answer to this question.
עדת ישראל: אֵלּוּ סַנְהֶדְרִין:
“These are the Sanhedrin.”
Rashi explains that “the Congregation of Yisrael” is referring to the Sanhedrin, as the Siftei Chachamim says that Rashi derived that it was the Sanhedrin from a Gezeirah Shava. It says in Parshas מסעי,
כד וְשָֽׁפְטוּ֙ הָֽעֵדָ֔ה בֵּ֚ין הַמַּכֶּ֔ה וּבֵ֖ין גֹּאֵ֣ל הַדָּ֑ם עַ֥ל הַמִּשְׁפָּטִ֖ים הָאֵֽלֶּה:
“Then the assembly shall judge between the striker and the blood redeemer.”
If word עדה, assembly is referring to the Sanhedrin there (the Pasuk in מסעי), then here in our pasuk in Parshas Vayikra it must be referring to the Sanhedrin.
To rephrase it, the Pasuk is trying to tell us that when the Sanhedrin makes an error and Bnei Yisrael does a certain particular action that the Sanhedrin said to do, but then they find out that they sinned, they are supposed to bring a Korban Chatas.
It seems like the Torah is giving us a very clear and beautiful message: Do not expect perfection from yourself or from others. We are all human and we all make mistakes. No matter what level you are on, your importance in society, or knowledge, you make mistakes because you are human.
A few pesukim later in this week’s Parsha, the Torah tells us something regarding when a king sins and a lesson regarding the human nature of sinning. The Pasuk says,
כב אֲשֶׁ֥ר נָשִׂ֖יא יֶֽחֱטָ֑א וְעָשָׂ֡ה אַחַ֣ת מִכׇּל־מִצְוֺת֩ יְהֹוָ֨ה אֱלֹהָ֜יו אֲשֶׁ֧ר לֹא־תֵעָשֶׂ֛ינָה בִּשְׁגָגָ֖ה וְאָשֵֽׁם:
“When a prince (e.g, king or leader) sins, and violates one of the commandments of Hashem that should not be violated and he realizes guilt —-.”
This pasuk says ‘when a leader sins’ instead of ‘if a leader sins’. It should say ‘if’. Why does it say ‘when’? The answer is, the Sforno points out, the Torah is trying to teach us a lesson about the nature of human leadership. “Even though they be kings, even though they have power, even though they might think themselves superior, they are still human. And no human is perfect. No human can escape sin.”
With this in mind about that no human is perfect, I would like to point out what we say at the end of a Masechta of Gemara during a siyum. In the מודים of making a siyum, it quotes the Gemara in Berachos (Daf :כח), which says, “We arise early and they arise early; we arise early for the words of Torah, while they arise early for idle words. We toil and they toil; we toil and receive reward, while they toil and do not receive reward.” How do they toil and not receive reward and we do? People who only work and do not learn Torah make money too! The Chofetz Chaim gives an example: You are going to buy and suit from a tailor. When you go into the shop to pick up your suit, you only pay them for the final product, not for how much time they spent working on it. However, for Torah, we get paid differently. For us, we also get paid for putting in the time to learn Torah. Hashem doesn’t only care how much we understand if we are stuck on this Gemara, or this Tosfos, or this Rashi. Hashem also cares about us putting the time and effort into Torah learning and trying our absolute best. If we do that, we get our שכר for learning L’Shem Shamayim. In Meseches Sanhedrin, it says that one of the things you will be asked in עולם הבא is, “did you make time to learn Torah?” It’s fine if you get a ‘B’ or ‘B+’ on a test. What matters is the effort you put into it.
Let this be a lesson to us all. A very significant life lesson. It’s fine if we make mistakes. We all sin. All of us. Mistakes are an absolute characteristic of human nature. The Torah itself says that even the Sanhedrin which has the wisest people in it makes mistakes. A king or leader of a nation makes mistakes and errors. They too aren’t perfect because they too are humans. We are not perfect in the sense that we understand everything and we never sin. None of us are perfect, but we all have to try our best.
Have a wonderful Shabbos!