The Book of Leviticus opens with the call regarding sacrifices. Perhaps in no other time in recent years has this passage spoken so meaningfully to us. March of 2022 sees so much of the world dealing with so many varieties of sacrifice.
This week is the anniversary of the lock downs from 2020 and with that, the sacrifices of time and relationships that, for many, or on-going. Our TV, and social media are alive with images and reports of the sacrifices now being made by people from Ukraine. These sacrifices have become deeply personal.
Many of the traditional commentaries parse out the meaning of sacrifice as it emerges in our portion. The word for sacrifice that appears at the very beginning (1:2) is korbon. Tradition notes that this shares the Hebrew root for the word that means “to bring close”. The Etz Haiim commentary notes that when we bring a gift to someone we feel closer to that person (p.587) and thus the sacrifices of Leviticus indicate that these make us feel closer to God.
As we grow older and experience so much we may question this divine connection. What we cannot question is the nature of the sacrifices that so many make and that, many who read that have made in their lives. This idea of being close speaks to so many of us now. How many people do we know who, at this stage of life, feel the need to be closer to family, friends, children or grandchildren? This speaks to a basic need in each of us, brought into great focus because of the pandemic—that we need connection closeness to people we care for. Is it our own fear of death that motivates this? Or is it a maturation of our own souls, based on experience that allows us to re-order our own priorities. We give of our self and souls to bring us closer to those we care for. Is this a sacrifice, or is it now a blessing?
Rabbi Richard F.Address
Rabbi Richard F. Address, D.Min, is the Founder and Director of www.jewishsacredaging.com. Rabbi Address served for over three decades on staff of the Union for Reform Judaism; first as a Regional Director and then, beginning in 1997, as Founder and Director of the URJ’s Department of Jewish Family Concerns and served as a specialist and consultant for the North American Reform Movement in the areas of family related programming. Rabbi Address was ordained from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in 1972 and began his rabbinic career in Los Angeles congregations. He also served as a part time rabbi for Beth Hillel in Carmel, NJ while regional director and, after his URJ tenure, served as senior rabbi of Congregation M’kor Shalom in Cherry Hill, NJ from 2011-2014.