What kind of a person would choose to bring a korban shelamim? When you think about it, it’s downright brazen, if not sacrilegious. If korbanot are meant to reflect our commitment to God, our willingness to sacrifice for the sake of religion, then what does it say when a person insists on getting in a few bites of his own? Is this the service God wants? It’s self-service, a lavish meat meal with a nod to God, some blood sprinkled and some fats burned!

Perhaps you will suggest that the shelamim is a second-rate korban compared to the olah, a reluctant acquiescence to man’s weakness, to his need to see that he’s getting something out of the deal as well. It’s an early iteration of what’s now called “dati-lite”, for those who are not yet ready for a religious life of total commitment.

But according to the Sifra, it is specifically the korban shelamim whose name teaches us the purpose of korbanot as a whole, as well as the method to achieve it. Sacrificial service is not there so that we can prove how much we are willing to lose, or suffer, out of commitment to God. It ultimately exists to bring peace in the world.

How is this accomplished? At the risk of sounding like Barney the Dinosaur, to sum it up in one word, I’d have to say: sharing. The shelamim is shared between the one who brings it, the kohen, and the altar. Religious service is not meant to be one-dimensional, focused solely on our service of God. It is three dimensional. The paradigm of the shelamim is of religious worship which meaningfully serves our relationship with God, with others, and with ourselves. Far from being second-rate, it is the model by which all other korbanot, and all acts of religious service must measure themselves.

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This is my own little insight about the 929 chapter of the day, in 300 words or so. But i get extra words for special days…  I’d love to hear your comments and start a conversation

What’s 929? A near-impossible challenge of consistency. A song of Jewish unity. A beautiful project worth checking out. Learn more at 929.org.il