Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called, Sheep No More.
In thinking about sacrifices as animal substitution for consequences to man, we can also reverse this logic to explore what sacrifices can teach us about consequences to man in their relationship to the Jewish people. In this particular case, I am thinking about Jewish responses to those who desire to be our friends and want to build kind and productive relationships with us or the opposite, to our enemies, who seek to persecute, attack us, and make the Jews their korban, victims.
In short, traditional korbanot in the Temple can teach us not only about how animals can substitute for people in our sacrifices to G-d for thanksgiving, communion, and acknowledging of consequences and teshuva (repentance) for our wrongdoing, but also how the Jewish people can relate to the nations of the world in everything from full peace, positive engagement, acts of guilt and sin against us, and even full-fledged war. Sacrifices teach us that while peace is always the desired state and fiery war a last resort in our self-defense and preservation, we know that after thousands of years of anti-Semitism, persecution, and Holocaust, we are no longer the sacrificial lamb on anyone’s Temple altar. (Source Photo: Pixabay Free Image)
In essence, the Jewish Temples have been not only physically buried over, but also the site has been historically Islamicized despite the Temple Mount’s intrinsic holiness to all three major religions (Christianity, Islam, and Judaism). In short, this is a very sensitive issue that is likely anchored in facets of intolerance and religious rivalry, as well as pretenses of superiority and dominance, rather than ultimately on the shared connection we have through both our genetic and spiritual lineage as Abraham’s decedents.
We absolutely want to have a peaceful and productive coexistence with all people, but just as Israel has risen from the Valley of Dry Bones, so too the day is coming soon when the Jewish Temple will be rebuilt in shinning glory and we can worship G-d just as we did in times before. What will be special about the 3rd Temple is that it will not only be for the Jewish people, but for all the world’s people to come together harmoniously to recognize and worship the one true and faithful G-d of us all. 😉
When we act up and fight with each other, then in the end, we will really only end up hurting ourselves.
Tomorrow can be better than today and yesterday, if we learn to live in peace and brotherhood with each other, and understand that hurting another is really only hurting ourselves in the end. G-d’s holiness dwells among us only when we stop the silly bickering and infighting, and love each other, and Him, with all our heart and soul. (Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
During Covid-19, it is easy to get down about all the people getting sick (many dying) and for the rest of us the intense feelings of isolation. However, during this time (and particularly this week of Thanksgiving), I am learning the importance of staying positive and appreciating all G-d’s blessings that we do have. More broadly, I am coming to understand that inside a person, G-d exists amidst love, kindness and cheerfulness: these are elements that nourish the flame of our soul and wherein G-d happily coexists with us. It makes a lot of sense that when we are angry, jealous, or sad, the holy Shechinah (presence of G-d) cannot fully reside inside us. Because G-d Himself is gracious, kind, and loving and created us from this, so His spirit within us (our soul) flourishes amidst these feelings, but diminishes within us like a flame without oxygen when we distance ourselves emotionally and spiritually.
Just like one candlelight extinguishes the darkness around it, so also the light that we nurture within ourselves can extinguish the darkness that we occasionally feel inside.
As Jews, we travel through history to our destiny along an arc of birth, growth, decline and the learning from our mistakes, to ultimately the fulfillment of our divine mission for world enlightenment. Jewish history can be broken down in a couple of amazing ways: first by every two millennium from creation forward, and second, starting with Abraham, in 400-500 year increments.
We have an incredible history that takes us along a clear trajectory from our founding of monotheism and special relationship with G-d as His “chosen” in the receiving the Torah and its transmission, to our many weaknesses and failures in going astray from our mission, and ultimately to our redemption and achievement of G-d’s purpose for us in bringing his teachings and glory to all the world.