This week’s Torah reading, Vayikra, focuses on the karbanot, the offerings brought by the Jews in the Sanctuary in the desert and afterwards, in the Temple in Jerusalem. It introduces this subject with the verse (translated literally): “When a man will offer of you a sacrifice to G-d of the animal.” Proper grammar would have the verse read: “When a man from among you offers….” But the verse is structured in this manner to teach that the offering is “of you,” dependent on each person and no one else.
The word karban has its root in the word karov, meaning “close.” Bringing an offering means coming close to G-d. And the Torah teaches us that coming close to G-d is dependent on each individual. No external factors can stand in his way. Every person can come close to G-d. If he truly desires, he can reach the highest peaks.
Also implied is that the offering comes “of you,” of the animal within the person himself. For each one of us has an animalistic side. This isn’t necessarily something bad, for not all animals possess negative qualities such as cruelty or parasitism. On the contrary, most animals are pleasant creatures that are not harmful to humans or other beasts.
Even so, an animal is not considered a positive model for our Divine service. For an animal acts only to fulfil its own instinctual drives. It thinks of nothing more than satisfying its own needs and achieving gratification. Its selfishness lies not in the desire to take advantage of others; it just doesn’t think of others. It is concerned with one thing: how to get what it wants and needs.
We each have a certain animal dimension to our personalities. There are times when we think only of ourselves and what we want. This is not necessarily bad, but it can lead to conflict when two people want the same thing, and it does not represent a developed state. One of the unique dimensions of a human being is that he can think and his brain can control his feelings and desires. But when a person allows the animal in him to control his conduct, he does nothing with this human potential. He will leave the world the same way he came in without having developed himself.
That is not why G-d brought us into being. He created us to make a change in the world and to begin by making a change in ourselves. Instead of just acting because we feel like doing something, our actions should be motivated by thought. We should act because what we’re doing is right because it follows G-d’s intent in the world. Instead of always taking we should think of looking outward and giving. And this involves changing the animal in ourselves, bringing it closer to G-d. That’s the spiritual service associated with bringing a sacrifice.
How is this done? Through thought. The animal in us is also intelligent. What does it want? To feel good. When it appreciates that giving can be more satisfying than receiving and that the greatest happiness comes from attuning oneself to G-d’s will, it will also act in that manner. That’s why we must continually expose ourselves to inspiring ideas and uplifting concepts. In this way, we will be motivated to look beyond our self-interest and seek goals that benefit mankind as a whole. Moshiach NOW!!!