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)
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.