Adar II 3, 5776 · March 13, 2016
First Reading: Leviticus 1:1–13
After the Tabernacle was erected on the 1st of Nisan, 2449, G‑d called Moses into the Tabernacle and began instructing him regarding the procedures for the sacrifices.
There are four broad categories of sacrifices: ascent-offerings, peace-offerings, sin-offerings, and guilt-offerings.
G‑d first taught Moses the procedures for ascent-offerings.
Getting Close - (אָדָם כִּי יַקְרִיב מִכֶּם קָרְבָּן וגו': (ויקרא א:ב
[G-d said to Moses,] “When someone brings a sacrifice . . . ” Leviticus 1:2
The notion of sacrifices seems to run counter to the Jewish conception of G‑d:
G‑d has no need to “consume” or be “bribed” by our sacrifices.
Yet we see in this section of the Torah that G‑d not only accepts sacrifices but explicitly sets down the procedures for them, giving every indication that He actually wants them!
In fact, the Hebrew word translated as “sacrifice” or “offering” – korban – means “getting close.”
Although we generally associate sacrifices with atonement for sin, the first sacrifices mentioned in this section are voluntary offerings, which an individual brings to G‑d not to atone for sin but out of the desire to draw closer to Him.
Of course, some of the sacrifices are indeed sin-offerings.
This simply indicates that G‑d calls out to all of us to draw close to Him – not only to the guiltless among us – at all times.
Nowadays, in the absence of the Tabernacle (or its permanent successor, the holy Temple in Jerusalem), there are three ways that we draw close to G‑d: through studying the Torah – particularly its teachings about sacrifices; through prayer, the liturgy of which is modeled after the sacrifices; and through acts of charity and kindness.