This week's Parsha, Parsha Vayikra, begins the book of Leviticus which is the 3rd book of the Torah. In English it is called Leviticus because it mainly talks about the Levites, the Kohanim and the Temple. This Parsha starts with the different offerings: G-d explains the different korbanot, offerings or sacrifices, to be brought to the Temple so that individuals could atone for guilt, sins and also make offerings to give thanks.
The concept of sacrifices and offerings is very unusual to us today. Why would we give animals to Hashem to atone or to say thank you? Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks wrote, "Love is the sacrifice of self to others, and the result is k-r-v, the “coming close” that is the root of the word korban, “sacrifice.”. He is saying the action of giving something to someone is a way of “training” love. The more you give to someone the more it shows you love them and you are giving yourself to them. It is good to remember that G-d did not need these gifts but each time a person gave an offering, they expressed love and dedication and this gave meaning to their relationship with G-d.
To illustrate this point one can look at a mother and their child. A mother loves their child from the moment they are born. This is because the mother has devoted herself to the child by birthing the child, feeding the child and caring for the child. Each time she gives to her child her love grows and she connects with them more.
Nowadays prayer is our way to give thanks to G-d. As the Mishnah says: “To pray daily is an affirmative duty, as it is said, "And ye shall serve the Lord, your G-d" (Exodus 23:25). The service is Prayer, as it is said, "And to serve Him with all your heart" (Deuteronomy 11:13), on which the sages commented, "What may be described as Service of the Heart? Prayer." When we pray we connect to something bigger than ourselves. We connect to the “spiritual world”.
The parsha shows us that if we are devoted and if we do things that are greater than ourselves, or “sacrifice” from our time or belonging to others, whether it be our friends, families, sport or whatever we enjoy, It doesn't take away from ourselves, on the contrary, we become bigger.
Thank you and Shabbat Shalom.
Sadie, Grade 9