This Shabbat we begin the third book of the Torah called Vayikra. Vayikra translates into: “...and He Called”, referring to G-d calling to Moses. The Parsha primarily deals with several amounts of “sacrifices” or “offerings” which the Jews brought to the Temple.
A sacrifice implies giving up something that is of value to oneself for the benefit of another and an offering implies a gift, which satisfies the receiver. However G-d does not need our gifts. The Hebrew word for sacrifice and offering is Korban, which literally means to “draw close” as a portrayal of bringing oneself into a closer relationship with G-d.
This reveals that the offering of Korbanot was only for our benefit to come close to G-d. One type of offering mentioned in the Parsha is the peace or thanks offerings. These offerings also allowed the community to draw closer together and to strengthen its power by the sharing of a communal meal of the sacred offering. The peace offering (probably the only times that the flesh of animals was eaten) was divided among the participants, promoting unity and binding the members more closely to each other.
We learn that it is important to give back to G-d as well as giving to each other, however because today we don’t practice offerings and sacrifices we can give back by acts of loving kindness (chesed) and justice (tzedakah). And in these times, these acts become all the more valuable.
Mordechai, Grade 12