The korban todah, “thanksgiving-offering”, is a sacrifice brought by one in gratitude to Hashem. The Gemara (Brachot 54b) lists those particular people that are obligated to bring such a korban:
One who completed a journey at sea;
One who crossed the desert;
One who was freed from prison and;
A person who was healed from illness.
In many ways it resembles a korban shlamim. It is one of the kodshei kalim and is consumed mostly be the owner of the korban. Yet it also differs in two distinct ways. Firstly along with the animal sacrifice, a large number of mincha offerings are brought. Three different matzah menachot and one chametz; numbering ten from each type. These loaves were not small either. We learnt that the flour required to produce all the loaves was between about 50 and 86 litres; that is between about 200 and 350 cups! Furthermore, unlike the shlamim the time limit for consuming both the korban and lachmei todah is reduced to the day of sacrifice and the following night; the shlamim could be consumed in the day, night and following day. What is the reason for these differences?
The Netziv (Ha’Emek Davar ) explains, both the large quantity food and reduced time in consumption forces one to invite a large number of people to join in his feast. The purpose of this sacrifice is not only to thank Hashem but also to recount the kindness Hashem bestowed up him to others. These requirements ensure he does so and to a large audience. He (Harchev Davar) uses this understanding to explain the verse we read in Hallel: “lecha ezbach zevach todah u’vshem Hashem ekra” – “To You I will sacrifice thanksgiving offerings and the name of Hashem I will invoke”. The two parts of the verse refer to firstly the sacrifice itself and then the “voice” of the todah – the discussion and storytelling over the todah that reveals the greatness of Hashem to others.7
The Oznayim La’Torah adds that the requirement for the meal to be eaten on the first day yet be allowed to continue throughout the night enhances the quality of this meal. Without the pressure of a clock, the people are able to sit in a relaxed and festive atmosphere with the host recounting his story in all its detail throughout the night. This might not have been the case if, like the shlamim, the meal was allowed to start on the second day, with the strict endpoint being sundown.
Rav Nebenzahl provides another reason why the korban must be consumed on the first day. He explains that there is an essential difference between a korban shlamim and a korban todah. The decision to bring a korban shlamim is calculated. A person intellectually decides he wishes to come closer to Hashem and chooses the korban shlamim as his means. There is no sense of urgency in having this wish fulfilled. The catalyst for bringing a korban todah however is an awesome event resulting in an outburst of emotion driving one to thank Hashem. As is well known, such feelings quickly wane with time. Consequently, the Torah requires the person to consume the korban in large company on the day of its slaughter, not a day later, while the emotions are still bubbling.
We therefore find that the unique requirements of the korban todah are imposed so that the thanksgiving meal is given to a large audience, in a relaxed atmosphere, while the host is still “fired-up” and tells his story in all its detail all for the purpose of thanking HaKadosh Baruch Hu and making His greatness known.
7 See the Harchev Davar inside to see how the Netziv explains the other verses that follow in a similar manner.
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