SALT - Tuesday, 11 Iyar 5780 - May 12, 2020

  • Rav David Silverberg
            The Torah commands in Parashat Emor (22:29) that when one offers a toda – thanksgiving offering, “li-rtzonekhem tizbachuhu” – literally, “you shall sacrifice it for your will.”  Rashi explains this command to mean that the sacrifice must be slaughtered in a manner in which it will find favor (“ratzon”) in God’s eyes.  Specifically, this verse refers to the law of pigul, which disqualifies a sacrifice if it was slaughtered with the intention of eating its meat beyond the time-frame designated for its consumption.  According to this reading, this verse introduces the next verse, which requires eating the meat of a toda only the day the sacrifice is offered and that night.  The toda differs from other kodashei kalim (low-level sacrifices) in that the others may also be eaten the following day, whereas the toda may be eaten only the day of the offering and through the night.  According to Rashi, the Torah here begins by warning that already at the time the sacrifice is slaughtered, one must be committed to obeying this restriction.
            Rashi then cites a second interpretation, explaining “li-rtzonekhem” to mean that the slaughtering must be performed as a willed action.  If one somehow executes an otherwise valid slaughtering without the intention to slaughter – such as if he was swinging a knife and it happened to sever the animal’s neck as required – the sacrifice is invalid.  The Torah commands that the slaughtering must be performed “li-rtzonekhem,” as a result of one’s desire and intent, and not coincidentally.
            A number of later commentators suggested reading this verse as instructing one who brings a toda how to properly approach the happy event he is celebrating.  As Rashi writes earlier (7:12), a toda sacrifice would normally be offered by somebody who had been rescued from a dangerous condition, such as recovering from a serious illness or being released from captivity.  Accordingly, Rav Raphael Yom Tov Lipman Halperin, in his Oneg Yom Tov, suggests explaining the command “li-rtzonekhem tizbachuhu” as urging such an individual to relate to his experience in the proper manner.  He is to reflect upon the fact that he was rescued not so he can have more opportunities to enjoy fleeting earthly pleasures, but rather to continue serving God.  The Torah commands the celebrant to approach his festivity “li-rtzonekhem” – with an eye toward making the right choices, committing to utilizing the opportunities he has been granted the right way.
            Ketav Sofer explains that after a person is rescued from danger, he should celebrate his salvation without feeling anguished over the period of crisis that he had gone through.  Rather than feel resentful over having had to endure the difficult situation from which he was delivered, he must try to celebrate “li-rtzonekhem,” wholeheartedly, with genuine joy.  He should trust that even life’s travails are, somehow, to our benefit, that we grow and learn from our difficulties and hardships, and with this mindset he will celebrate “li-rtzonekhem,” with unbridled gratitude and joy, without any feelings of resentment and angst over having had to endure the period of hardship from which he was rescued.