Thanksgiving – The idea Behind “Korban Todah”

By By Gabi Raiss‏

Cape Town (2001-2)
Currently Youth Director of the Chomat Shmuel neighborhood

In this week’s parsha, “Tzav”, we learn about different sacrifices. one of them is called “Korban Todah”. The Torah says: “
If he is bringing it as a thanksgiving offering, he shall offer, along with the thanksgiving offering unleavened loaves mixed with oil, unleavened wafers anointed with oil, and scalded flour mixed with oil. Along with loaves of leavened bread, he shall bring his offering along with his thanksgiving peace offering. And he shall bring from it one out of each offering, as a separation for the Lord; the kohen who dashes the blood of the peace offering it shall be his. And the flesh of his thanksgiving peace offering shall be eaten on the day it is offered up; he shall not leave any of it over until morning” ( Leviticus Chapter 7)
here are two unique halachot regarding this sacrifice, the first one – one needs to give “Chametz” bread with the sacrifice, and the second – one must finish all the food on the same day when he brought the offering.

Why there is the need to finish the food so quickly? What is the rush? Rashi explains that the reason for thanksgiving is to thank G-d for a miracle that happened, so by demanding to eat the food in a short period of time, one is ‘forced’ to invite his friends to the feast. During the meal he will, naturally, tell about his personal miracle. Very similar to what we do in Hanukah – “Pirsumei Nisah”.

I would like to offer an idea. In my opinion, thanksgiving should never be a personal issue; it always has a connection to other people. Thus, even though a miracle could be a private thing. one must share it with others. In many ways we do that on every Jewish festival. There is a joke that says: all the Jewish holidays are the same: :They tried to kill us, they failed, lets eat!” But the Rambam added to that, and defined that on every Chag we need to invite poor people to the meal; otherwise, the point of being happy during the holiday is missed.
On Purim this idea is even more important, the Megilah says: “…as the days when the Jews rested from their enemies, and the month that was reversed for them from grief to joy and from mourning to a festive day-to make them days of feasting and joy, and sending portions one to another, and gifts to the poor. (Esther Chapter 9)
The reason we send each other Mishloach Manot and give gifts to the poor people is because we cannot celebrate Purim otherwise. The lesson of the holiday is the need for unity among us. The Maharal explains that in Purim Am Yisrael achieved wholeness, and in order to show it we share our wholeness with others.
Another idea I would like to suggest, is the theme behind the Chametz. Once the dough is leavened the bread is filled with air and is can no longer be called “Lechem Oni”, The Bread of Affliction. the reason one must bring Chametz with his thanksgiving is to show he is saying thank you as a complete person, to show his wholeness.

Only when someone is saved he can feel this way, and thus on Purim, when we were saved we have reached our wholeness – we can share it with the rest of Am Yisrael.


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