In the beginning of this week’s parsha, the verse states, “Adam ki yakrim mikem korban la’Shem”, “When a person among you will offer a korban to Hashem…” The Shem M’Shmuel wonders why the word “Adam” is used instead of word more commonly used for “man”, “Ish”. The tzaddik’s explanation provides a deep insight into the true mission of man and a Jew’s ability to transform his entire existence into the ultimate korban to the Master of the world.

Adam HaRishon, the primordial man, was created on the sixth day of creation,  after all other elements of the existence were brought into being. As the culmination of the creative process, Adam contained elements of all creations, both spiritual and physical, within his physiological, emotional, spiritual, and intellectual structure. The word Adam hints to this truth, as it derives from the word “adameh”, likeness. This tells us that whatever exists in this world can find a parallel, a “dimyon” in Adam, mankind – much like Esther’s appearance reflected the likeness of every nation. The human being is a microcosmic prism within which all of existence is reflected, the center point where heaven and earth are able to unite.

The letters of the word “Adam” hint to this nature as well. The letter “dalet” (numerically equivalent to 4) hints to the four physical elements of which his physiological makeup is formed – air, fire, water, and earth. The letter “mem” (numerically equivalent to 40) hints to the spiritual source for these four elements, where each is composed of ten spiritual powers. Finally, the letter “aleph” hints to the unifying factor which binds the physical and spiritual together to form the glorious wonder that is the human being – the Godly element of “tzelem Elokim” which permeates his being.

The Midrash (Shemos 20:11) teaches that the word “Adam” is a reference to Yosef HaTzaddik. The Shem M’Shmuel explains that because Yosef overcame the temptation with Eishes Potiphar, refraining from abusing his capacity for connection by forging a bond with impurity, he merited to transform his being into a cosmic meeting point where all heavenly and earthly forces were able to unite within his “aleph”, his activated tzelem Elokim. (Indeed, Yosef is related to the middah of “Yesod”, connectivity, which is related to the sixth day – the culmination and unification of creation in the form of Adam.) This is the meaning of the Zohar’s statement, “The tzaddik is one who unifies heaven and earth.” The more one is able to overcome his base desires and utilize the human capacity for connection in a way of holiness and commitment to the divine will, the more his tzelem Elokim will reflect all of existence, unifying heaven and earth in a bond of purity and elevation.

Using this deep insight into the implication of the word “Adam”, the Shem M’Shmuel explains why it is used in the context of Korbanos instead of the word “Ish”. The Torah is teaching us that it is the element of “Adam ki yakriv mikem”, the ability to manifest the potential to become an “adam” by binding all elements of creation in a bond of holiness and transformation, is “korban la’Shem”, the ultimate offering to the Master of the world which allows every particle of physicality to enter into a covenant with its Creator.

When man lives life in accordance with the will of Hashem, he becomes a prism within which heaven and earth are reflected, unifying the physical and and spiritual realms in a bond of holiness.

Rav Shmuel Bornstein of Sochatchov
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R’ Yaakov Klein is the founder of the Lost Princess Initiative, an author, musician, and lecturer devoted to sharing the inner light of Torah through his books, music, and lectures.

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