Parshat Vayikra opens by delineating the laws of sacrifices. Among these sacrifices is the korban oleh v'yored - literally, "the sacrifice that
rises and falls" - a variable guilt-offering whose cost varies and depends on the
The third category of sin mentioned is swearing, either regarding the past
Or if anyone swears, pronouncing with his lips to do evil or
The Sages say that although atonement is necessary for violating the oath
The Talmud (Shevu'ot 26a) explains that the source for this law is in our
Our Rabbis taught: a person with an oath (HA'ADAM BISHVU'A)
A person with an oath: That he be a person at the time of swearing, that
In further discussing this derivation, Torah Temimah (R. Baruch ben Yechiel
Rav Kahana and Rav Assi stood up in the presence of Rav [after the lecture]. One said, "I swear that Rav said so-and-so," and the other said, "I swear that Rav said so-and-so."
When they came before Rav, he responded that he had said according to one of them. The other asked, "Then, did I swear falsely?" [Rav] said to him, "Your heart forced you."
At the moment of the oath, the mistaken student was certain that he remembered Rav's teaching accurately. But he was deluded by his ignorance, held captive by his own certainty. It could not be said of him that he swore falsely, only that he was compelled, by his own inner drives, to swear. This is not the oath of a complete ADAM.
The opening of the book of VAYIKRA, which teaches about a person who sacrifices a burnt-offering, also speaks of ADAM: Speak to the Children of Israel and say to them: A person (ADAM) among you who would bring an offering to Hashem - of the cattle, of the herd, and of the flock shall you offer your sacrifice (Vayikra 1:2). Rashi states that this passage deals with "voluntary sacrifices." So here, too, ADAM who sacrifices is one who expresses his full humanness by choosing - from the vantage point of knowledge - and then, unimpeded, fulfilling his choice.
It is not surprising, therefore, that Malbim (R. Meir Leib ben Yechiel Michael, 1809-1877) opens his commentary to the book of VAYIKRA with a lengthy discussion of the use of the word ADAM in Tanach, as compared with other words for "person," such as ISH or NEFESH. His conclusion is that ADAM describes that which is most essentially human, distinguishing the human being from all other living creatures - from animals as well as from angels. This is his bechirah chofshit, his free will.
To be an ADAM is to have choices and to be able to exercise them. Being
deprived of choice is dehumanizing. Man has the capacity to elect to transform the world around him, whether to degrade it or to elevate it.
The Torah uses the term is ADAM to express man's inherent ability to utilize his
freewill positively. VAYIKRA, the book of holiness, the book of ultimate fulfillment of human potential, complements the books of
A person (ADAM) among you who would bring an offering to Hashem.