The First Korban Shelamim by Rabbi Benny Berlin

Parashat Vayigash describes the dramatic journey of Ya’akov to Egypt in order to be reunited with his long-lost son, Yosef. While en route, Ya’akov offers “zevachim” to “the God of his father Yitzchak” (46:1).
The term zevachim is not used to describe a korban anywhere in the Torah until this point, despite the fact that numerous people, starting from the sons of Adam and including Ya’akov himself, have offered
korbanos. In those instances, the korban offered were olos, while Ya’akov is described as offering zevachim. What is the significance of this switch?

I learned a beautiful answer from Rabbi Siev.

In order to understand this point, he explains that we must begin by understanding the halachic differences between an olah and zevachim, otherwise known as korban shelamim. A korban olah is totally consumed in the fire on the mizbe’ach. When one offers a shelamim, on the other hand, some blood is sprinkled on the mizbe’ach and some portions are burned, but the majority of the animal is eaten by the person who brought the korban and his family.

This procedural difference represents a spiritual concept of great importance that is unique to Judaism. Other religions have also understood the concept of completely nullifying oneself to God, represented
by the korban olah. In fact, the animal brought as a korban actually represents the person himself; the person thus symbolically sacrifices his own sense of self for the sake of God. Judaism claims that there is
another dimension to our relationship with God as well. The shelamim is, essentially, a family meal that happens to be a korban. The critically important idea the shelamim represents is that one can bring
holiness into the totality of one’s existence. There is no contradiction between a life of holiness and normal human activities. On the contrary, Jews are obligated to infuse their homes, their families, their
meals and celebrations, with kedusha. A family meal can and should become a korban.

With this in mind, we can understand the significance of our pasuk. Now that Ya’akov is finally on the way to seeing his family complete (shalem) both physically and spiritually, he is able to offer a korban
shelamim. That is also why the pasuk emphasizes that it was offered “to the God of his father Yitzchak”; the concept of infusing kedusha into all areas of life is one that is unique to the family of Yitzchak.