Korbanot – Neither Sweet nor Sour!

PARASHAT VAYIKRA: Why isn't it permitted to bring a korban (sacrifice) with honey but must be brought with salt?

By Rav Jesse Horn

Interestingly, when bringing Karbanot sacrifices, the Torah forbids bringing them with honey (Vaykira 2:11) or other sweet fruit juice (Rashi Vayikra 2:11), yet commands that they are brought with salt (ibid 2:13).

The Kutzker Rebbi pointed out that the Karbanot themselves were designed to have a regular taste and not to be too sweet or sour. This thought takes on much more meaning in light of the Ramban (Vayikra 1:9) who explains that bringing a Karban is an opportunity for a unique closeness to Hashem because the Karban being brought is being brought in place of the person bringing it. The Karban is representative of man’s powerful desire and willingness to be brought to Hashem, without the catastrophic results of death.

The Kutzker’s comments can now be seen with more profundity. When approaching interaction with Hashem, and developing a proper religious personality, the golden middle is the ideal one (Rambam Daot, perek 1). Religious balance is what we strive for, aiming to have it manifest itself in our behavior and character. The Rambam (4th perek of the Shemonah Perekim) offers several wise and intuitive examples where this can be better seen. Self-control lies midway between intemperate passion and complete absence of feeling for worldly enjoyment. Generosity is the middle between stinginess and wastefulness. Courage lies between recklessness and cowardice. Dignity is found between haughtiness and boorishness. Friendliness is in the middle between aggressiveness and submissiveness. Humility lies between conceit and self-abasement. Contentedness lies between greed and laziness and tolerance lies between anger and indifference. The Karbanot we bring are designed to capture the ideal religious selves we are seeking to cultivate, one leading ingredient is developing a well-balanced persona.

Rav Mordachi Gifter offered additional insight into these laws of Karbanot. He explained that honey covers up the real taste of food while salt, by contrast, pulls the real taste out. This too, becomes significantly, more powerful based upon the aforementioned Ramban. Like the Karban, one is supposed to be sincere, not disingenuous, when it comes to interaction with Hashem. Or in other words, when approaching Hashem and attempting to draw closer to Him, one must be firstly truthful and honest. Wearing a religious mask is hypocritical and not what Hashem is interested in.

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