Parashat Vayikra

HOW EXCITING! We begin the book of Va-yikra, and one of the verses that deserve our attention is the following: “If the anointed priest sins because of the people, he shall bring…. a calf for atonement”. The question is obvious: the Sages teach us that everyone is responsible for his actions, and even more so someone like the Cohen, who possessed a very high spiritual level, and must have known in detail the laws of the Torah. So why did BeneiYisrael bear the blame for the Cohen’s sin? As if this were not enough, the prophet Chizkiah compares the People of Israel to a lamb. This animal has the characteristic that when it feels pain in a limb, its whole body shudders, and in the same way it happens with the children of Israel, when one of its members sins, all of them are punished. Sounds unfair, doesn’t it? In fact, Moshe also tried to use this argument to defend the congregation of Korach and prevent God from annihilating them, as the verse says: “Depart from among this congregation, and I will destroy them in a moment. And they (Moshe and Aharon) fell on their faces, and said, God…. Is it not one man who has sinned, and why are you angry with the whole congregation? However, Moshe had no use for this argument. Why is this so? Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai answers with a parable: Several people were sailing in a boat. One of them began to dig a hole under it. The others complained to him, why are you doing that? To which he replied, Am I not drilling in my space? They said to him: The water is going to come in through your hole and we are all going to sink! The responsibility for our actions is not limited to our personal lives, but to the lives of all those around us. The expressions “I do my life, leave me alone, or “if he wants to kill himself, let him die”, have no place in our people, because we will all be affected.