Reflections from Rabbi René – Parashat Vayikra

To achieve something greater…

The Book of Leviticus that starts this Shabbat has almost no action. It talks about sacrifices that were performed in a Temple that is no longer there, laws of purity and impurity, the Holiness Code, forbidden relationships, ethical commandments, etc. Biblical scholars have attributed this book to the priests that lived  in the Temple of Jerusalem, and created a whole system that lays the foundation of our relationships with the Divine. It is a very strange world, very far from what we are used to, a bit like the world we are in now, with new routines, new guidelines, new behaviours.

Sacrifice, a Latin word that made its way into English, and korban, the Hebrew equivalent, reflect two sides of a same reality. A sacrifice is something we give up in order to achieve something greater. In the Bible, for example, Jewish farmers would bring to the Temple at Pesach and Shavuot the first fruits of their labour – Bikkurim-. It was a way to express their gratitude to the Eternal for the bounty of the earth. A korban – from the Hebrew root K. R. V., means “to draw near, close”, and signifies the purpose of these acts: one offers korbanot to get closer to God, to repair a broken relationship – for example the korban chattat, sin sacrifice

A perfect time to think of the quality of our relationships….

Each relationships, whether with God or with another human being, requires giving up something of us, offering the other some part of us. We cannot hope to have meaningful relationships if we do not share a bit of us. The challenge is to find the right measure and a balanced way of sharing. Relationships are equal, otherwise one takes advantage over the other, and it becomes a power game.

We are now isolated with our families, our loved ones, or with oneself, and it is a perfect time to think of the quality of our relationships. What is working? What needs to be amended?

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Rene