This week's portion: the heart of things
March 23, 2007
The book of Vayikra -- Leviticus -- begins straight away with instructions for offering korbanot: "sacrifices," in English, though a more appropriate translation might be "drawings-near," e.g. offerings which draw us near to God.
In the traditional understanding, Leviticus is the jewel at the center of the Torah. It's the middle book, and the symmetry of the five-book text suggests it's therefore the most important. Needless to say, that can be a tough viewpoint for the contemporary liberal Jew to swallow. Blood and guts, oil and incense and spices -- this could hardly be further from the familiar paradigm of worship we understand.
That's what sparked this week's d'var at Radical Torah:
Torah doesn't say, "this is how you shall draw near to Me now, for the time being; later on, when humanity is maybe a little bit more evolved, you'll find other ways of approaching My presence, offering thanks, and seeking to atone for your misdeeds." It might make our lives easier now if those words were in there -- if God had given us an advance alert that someday our paradigm for relationship with God would change. That we would grow to be capable of finding connection through words, instead of bodily fluids and ashes.
Read the whole thing here: The heart of things.