Today’s Aliyah

Dvar Torah for Shemini 1st Aliyah

Aharon is instructed by Moshe to bring an offering to atone for his role in the sin of the Golden Calf (9:2). The Jewish people were also commanded to bring an offering to atone for their part in the Golden Calf. Why is Aharon instructed to bring a Chatas or “sin offering,” while the rest of the people were to bring an Olah, or “elevation offering”?

Rav Yisrael Belsky explains that the Olah offering is brought for improper intentions and thoughts, which, in this case, was the people’s skepticism of Moshe; the offering is entirely consumed by fire with no substantial remains. The Chatas, on the other hand, is brought for the actions perpetrated, so its remains, like the consequences of our actions, need to be handled properly. This direct correlation between transgressions and their respective offerings highlights the implications of our thoughts and actions. We are blessed to have a complex system that addresses both our thoughts and our actions, enabling us to have a mindful approach to our pursuit of self-improvement.