Our Parsha begins with the guidelines of childbirth. It includes periods of separation between husband and wife and periods where husband and wife can be together regardless of the wife’s physical condition. On the 8th day of a baby boy’s life we are to fulfill the mitzvah of Milah I chose to focus on the conclusion of this period- 40 days for the birth of a boy and 80 days for the birth of a girl. The Torah instructs the wife to bring a Korban. Had it been up to us to decide what type of Korban would be most appropriate post-childbirth I would imagine most would respond that Korban Todah, an offering of thanksgiving, would best fit this occasion. However, the Torah demands that the mother bring a Korban Olah and a Korban Chatat. I can fully appreciate the Korban Olah as it is fully offered to G-D and not necessarily associated with transgression. But why would a woman having given birth be required to offer a Korban Chatat, a sacrifice reserved for a sinner and transgression? The Gemara, (Niddah 31B) states in the name of R’ Shimon Bar Yochai, that perhaps during the course of childbirth the mother experienced severe pain and may have taken an oath never to have marital relations with her husband to avoid another pregnancy and thereby spare her of the excruciating pain that she is currently experiencing. As time goes on she may have forgotten about that oath and had relations with her husband thereby violating her oath. In accordance with Vayikra 5:4-6 one who violates such an oath must bring a korban chatat. This answer is somewhat problematic. The Torah demands that upon each birth the mother offer these korbanot regardless whether she uttered the vow or not. Assuming that she did not, what might be the rationale of such a korban?
Permit me to suggest (al pi drush) that childbirth goes way beyond the physical aspects bringing a new life into this world. We recognize that parenthood includes the daunting challenge of transmitting our tradition and values to the next generation. Parents will spend the better of twenty years dedicating their efforts, resources, and time to their children with the hope that they are successful in fulfilling their responsibility of educating and training a child to become an active member of Am Yisrael. Some parents are neglectful of this responsibility and expect others, teachers, housekeepers, and rabbis to fill the vacuum that they created. By focusing their attention on other areas of interest such as work ethic, or partaking of the cultural opportunities offered to our society. If the child has no interest in maintaining a connection to our heritage it could be his/her decision or it could be the fault of the parent having failed to fulfill its parental charge. This is, then, the symbol of the Korban. A mother brings these two offerings to announce that she fully comprehends her role and challenge that lie ahead. Either my son will reflect the Korban Olah symbolic of a life dedicated to the service of G-D. Or alternatively, my son will reflect the Korban Chatat , the sin offering and I state publicly that it could have been my (father and mother’s) fault for the outcome of my offspring.
Let us hope that every parent succeeds in this venture and will be reflected by that which the Torah describes earlier in Parshat Tzav “Hee HaOlah al Hamizbeich Kol HaLaylah “.