HomeMarch 2014The Open Gates of Heaven

The Open Gates of Heaven

The word korban (sacrifice) comes from the root word korov (to come close). God’s favor is not obtained by the physical act of placing the parts of the offering upon the altar. Rather, it is that which reawakens the heart and soul and accompanies the sacrifices that envelop the penitent with humility, making him worthy of Divine Presence.
The idea of self-sacrifice is reflected in the following verse: “When a man among you brings an offering to God, from animals, from cattle or from the flock shall you bring your offering.” The most genuine offering occurs when the owner brings himself as the offering. This means that the owner of the sacrifice dedicates himself to God, making himself and his desires subservient to the teaching of the Torah. In this manner, the animal used in the offering becomes secondary, serving as a symbol of what the owner feels and what he strives toward.
The man bringing the offering is referred to (in Hebrew) as Adam, the name of the first human being. According to Rashi, this teaches us that just as Adam did not bring stolen animals as offerings (since the whole world was his), so too we may not serve God with anything that is acquired dishonestly. Commentators have noted that the above verse begins by speaking of “an offering to God,” yet concludes with the words, “your offering,” omitting mention of God. If you offer yourself to God – that being your essential humanity, in a sincere effort to draw close to Him, then your offering is, indeed, an offering to God. However, if your desire is only to go through the motions of performing the sacrificial rite with the animal of your choice, then, sadly, it is merely your offering.
The attitudes by which we can both achieve closeness to God and atone for our sins do not depend on the specific sacrifices, but, rather, on our inner feelings that are both inspired and expressed by prayer. In this way, prayer takes the place of sacrifices in that it enables us to capture the exaltation, which had formerly existed only in the Temple. We pray the morning prayers in order to replace the korban tamid (daily burnt-offering) of the morning; the mincha prays to replace the afternoon tamid sacrifice; and finally the ma’ariv prays to replace the offering of the aimurim (everything that was not offered during the day).
The building of the Mishkan (Tabernacle) served as atonement for Israel’s worship of the Golden Calf. This sinful act was rooted in the erroneous perception of the core of Torah. Instead of serving God according to the dictates of the Torah, the people sought to worship Him from the perspective of their own intellect and rationale.

A Final Thought
The sages say that “the handiwork” of a person consists of his sons and daughters. The Jewish education of children is so important that it takes precedence over building the Beit HaMikdash (Holy Temple). This is where true sanctity lies for children who represent the future of Klal Yisrael. Parents must imbue their children with love and sanctity for Torah, so that the Shechinah will rest in their offspring.

MARCH 2014
Candle Lighting Times
and Torah Portions

Saturday, March 1
Torah Portion: Pekudei
(Exodus 38:21-40:38; Exodus 30: 11-1)
Friday, March 7
Light candles at 5:34 p.m.
Saturday, March 8
Torah Portion: Vayikra
(Leviticus 1:1-5:26)
Friday, March 14
Light candles at 6:40 p.m.
Saturday, March 15
Torah Portion: Tzav
(Leviticus 6:1-8:36)
Friday, March 21
Light candles at 6:45 p.m.
Saturday, March 22
Torah Portion: Shemini
(Leviticus 9:1-11:47)
Friday, March 28
Light candles at 6:50 p.m.
Saturday, March 29
Torah Portion: Tazria
(Leviticus 12:1-13:59)

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