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Sunday, 28 Adar 5777 / March 26, 2017

Sunday: Getting Close

Sunday: Getting Close

First Reading: Leviticus 1:1–13

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After the Tabernacle was erected on the 1st of Nisan, 2449, G‑d called Moses into the Tabernacle and began instructing him regarding the procedures for the sacrifices. There are four broad categories of sacrifices: ascent-offerings, peace-offerings, sin-offerings, and guilt-offerings. G‑d first taught Moses the procedures for ascent-offerings.
Getting Close
אָדָם כִּי יַקְרִיב מִכֶּם קָרְבָּן וגו': (ויקרא א:ב)
[G‑d said to Moses,] “When someone brings a sacrifice . . . ” Leviticus 1:2

The notion of sacrifices seems to run counter to the Jewish conception of G‑d: G‑d has no need to “consume” or be “bribed” by our sacrifices. Yet we see in this section of the Torah that G‑d not only accepts sacrifices but explicitly sets down the procedures for them, giving every indication that He actually wants them!

In fact, the Hebrew word translated as “sacrifice” or “offering” – korban – means “getting close.” Although we generally associate sacrifices with atonement for sin, the first sacrifices mentioned in this section are voluntary offerings, which an individual brings to G‑d not to atone for sin but out of the desire to draw closer to Him. Of course, some of the sacrifices are indeed sin-offerings. This simply indicates that G‑d calls out to all of us to draw close to Him – not only to the guiltless among us – at all times.

Nowadays, in the absence of the Tabernacle (or its permanent successor, the holy Temple in Jerusalem), there are three ways that we draw close to G‑d: through studying the Torah – particularly its teachings about sacrifices; through prayer, the liturgy of which is modeled after the sacrifices; and through acts of charity and kindness.1

Footnotes
1.
Based on Likutei Sichot, vol. 7, pp. 24–26; ibid., vol. 32, pp. 1–5.
Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson (11 Nissan 1902–3 Tammuz 1994) became the seventh rebbe of the Chabad dynasty on 10 Shevat 1950. He is widely acknowledged as the greatest Jewish leader of the second half of the 20th century, a dominant scholar in both the revealed and hidden aspects of Torah, and fluent in many languages and on scientific subjects. The Rebbe is best known for his extraordinary love and concern for every Jew on the planet, having sent thousands of emissaries around the globe, dedicated to strengthening Judaism.

Moshe Yaakov Wisnefsky is a scholar, author and anthologist, and is editor-in-chief at Chabad House Publications of California. He is the author and translator of Apples from the Orchard, gleanings from the writings of the Arizal (Rabbi Isaac Luria, 1534–1572) on the Torah, and is the author and editor-in-chief of the Kehot Chumash produced by Chabad House Publications, featuring an interpolated translation of the Torah with commentary adapted from the works of the Lubavitcher Rebbe.
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suzy handler woodland hills, ca March 13, 2016

The act of kindness is very important, and this gave me an idea. Would rebuilding of the Third Temple be an act of kindness? If so, when could this happen? How could this happen in this time? Reply

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The study of Zohar exalts the soul; study of Midrash arouses the heart; Psalms with tears scours the vessel [of the soul - i.e., the body.]
  –Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Lubavitch (1789-1866)
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