Friday, March 11, 2011

Smart Sacrifices: Parashat Yayikra

This week, we begin reading the first portion in the Book of Vayikra, aka Leviticus. Rabbis often dread the beginning of vayikra because it is filled with commandments regarding animal sacrifices in the Temple. It is an instruction manual for a world long lost. However, even in a world without a temple, there are still a variety of lessons to be learned from this book in general and this portion in particular.

There were many types of sacrifices. Some of these sacrifices involved the complete incineration of the animal (the olah sacrifice) and others retained some of the meat for the sake of the family offering it, the priests, and the Levites. The Biblical system of sacrifices makes a good deal of sense. If all our sacrifices afford us nothing in return, we will literally burn out. Sometimes we need to give all we have for the sake of our communities or for God. However, at other times, we need to give enough and retain enough to sustain our families and friends. This balance is not selfish, it is simply sustainable.

This week, let us think about whether our offerings are balanced -- some large, some small, but all in proportion.

Shabbat Shalom!