Parashat Vayikra: a Torah portion that strikes fear into the hearts of b'nai mitzvah students and new rabbinic interns, faced with the challenge of making the sacrificial system meaningful to a congregation of contemporary Jews. In this week's post at Radical Torah, I examine part of this week's Torah portion, looking first at the meaning of the word we usually translate as "sacrifice," and then exploring the mincha (grain-offering) and its resonance with today's Passover practices:
One of my favorite moments in our Passover seder comes early, when we take turns going around the table to read stanzas of Rabbi Lynn Gottlieb's poem "Spring Cleaning Ritual on the Eve of the Full Moon of Nisan." The poem describes the process of cleaning the hametz, the leaven, in our houses and burning it -- and, alongside, the process of cleaning out the hametz in our hearts and casting that, too, to the flames. In days of old no leavened bread could be burned as an offering to God; in modern times our leaven is precisely what we burn. What does the shift teach us?
For my answer to that question, read my d'var, Unleavened offerings of our hearts. Enjoy!