In this week’s parashah, Parashat Tzav, just as in the previous one, we find a description of the different Korbanot (sacrifices or offerings) that had to be offered at the Mishkan (Tabernacle). Among them, there is one called Korban Sh’lamim, which had the purpose of thanking God for the outcome of some situation people were going through.
According to tradition, this sacrifice was made at times when someone survived a dangerous situation, such as having been cured of a serious illness, getting out of prison, crossing an ocean, or surviving a journey through the wilderness. This practice is the biblical origin of the Birkat HaGomel prayer, recited in our synagogues when someone has survived a dangerous situation. The person is called for an Aliya and then, she or he recites this prayer.
It is interesting to note that in Vayikra Rabba, the sages say: “At the end of the days, all sacrifices shall be nullified, except for the sacrifice of thanksgiving; all prayers shall be nullified, except for the prayer of thanksgiving.” (Vayikra Rabba 9, 7)
The question raised by this text is why this kind of sacrifice is different. What makes it so special, being the only one that will not be cancelled?
Some people say that all offerings are done to rectify something that we ourselves have failed to accomplish. The guilt sacrifice (asham) is brought for several transgressions. The atonement sacrifice (chatat), for involuntary sins. The holocaust sacrifice (olah), for evil thoughts. But the korban todah is different from all others. This offering is brought to the Temple without the mediation of any transgression; it is pure giving. For this reason, our sages say that in the future, all offerings will be cancelled except the peaceful sacrifice. The nature of this sacrifice is unique and incomparable.