Daily Aliya for Vayikra, Chamishi (5th Aliya)
This Aliya describes the three unique sin offerings: 1) When the High Priest sinned (see Weekly Dvar for more on this one), 2) If the entire nation sinned because of a wrong ruling by the High Court, and 3) If the King sinned.
Two things immediately stand out to me in this Aliya. first, the second Passuk (verse) seems superfluous, saying that if a person sins unintentionally… that’s it – there isn’t a “then” attached to the “if”. The very next Passuk starts with “if the Cohen sins…”. The second thing that stands out is the order of the offerings described. Cohen, then community, then king. It’s not going from broad spectrum to specific people, it’s going from specific, to broad, back to specific. It just seems a little random.
It could be that the two questions can help answer each other. Maybe the “extra” Passuk is there to tell us that a person will sin, inevitably, because they’re human. And the Cohen is listed first because it’s that very same Cohen that will be handling the sin offerings for everyone else. It shows the humanity of the system, that no one is above mistakes; not the king, not the court, and not even the Cohen who will handle your sin offering. So don’t feel so bad if you make a mistake, because we’re build to err. It’s what we do about it that matters…