Thursday, March 18, 2010

Vayikra

Today I inaugurated a new weekly email.  It is not about upcoming programs.  It is instead about Torah.  I hope you find it meaningful.  During good times and bad we should draw from the wellspring of Torah.  Interestingly this week’s Torah portion is Vayikra.  It is all about sacrifices.  It is all about stuff we no longer do.  It is about killing animals and sprinkling blood on the altar.  Pretty gross if you asked me.  Pretty foreign if you asked just about anyone.  But we believe there has to be something for us to learn even in a portion all about stuff we no longer do.  Otherwise why keep reading the Torah.  The Hebrew word for sacrifice is korban.  It comes from karov, meaning to draw near.  The ancients believed animal sacrifices were therefore about how you get closer to God.  That desire is still part of our discussion and it is my question for this Shabbat.  How do we draw closer to God?  You are welcome to email me your thoughts about this question and I will have more to say about this question at Shabbat services tomorrow evening.  Here is an initial thought.  When you offered an animal for sacrifice it could not just be any animal it had to be the best animal, without blemish.  You had to give up something that was valued and prized.  Perhaps that is how we can draw closer to God.  We must give up something that we really like.  Granted you can take this idea to an extreme.  And that is exactly what ascetics do.  They give up everything to get closer to God.  Giving up everything is decidedly un-Jewish, but giving up something, sacrificing something, can bring us closer to God and those we love. The question remains what must we give up, what must we sacrifice in order to draw closer to God and to others?  For a different take on the Torah portion listen to my weekly podcast through iTunes.  I hope to see you at Shabbat Services tomorrow evening at 6:30 pm.  Shabbat Shalom!

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