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Beyond the Animal
The Shocking Truth About Sacrifices [Vayikra]

The Book of Leviticus, also known as the Book of Offerings and the Book of Cohen's (Priesthood), particularly in the portion of Vayikra, begins with a question: What's the significance of offering sacrifices? At first glance, this is a relic of ancient times, when sacrifices held meaning. But why do we still anticipate the revival of sacrificial worship in the future, with the imminent construction of the Temple in our times? Will we return to offering sacrifices?

To understand this, we must scrutinize the verses: "Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: When a man from [among] you brings a sacrifice to GOD." If we look at this verse objectively, one can understand simply that a person wants to offer himself, not the animal he brings to the altar. "When a man from [among] you brings a sacrifice to GOD,"
Who or what is the offering?
And what will be the result?
What happens when a person wants to offer himself?
"from animals, from cattle or the flock, you shall bring your sacrifice." In other words, we learn that the sacrifice is a substitute for the person. The person sacrifices an animal as a substitute for himself. Due to sin, he needed to sacrifice himself, and he was redeemed through the offering. There is a parallel here in the broader context of Israelite law, drawing from the story of the Binding of Isaac. Isaac, as the embodiment of the attribute of justice, desires to sacrifice himself. There is no problem for Isaac to be the one sacrificed on the altar due to his intense longing, metaphysical thirst, and yearning for God.

Consequently, Isaac desires to offer himself. If so, there is an expectation that any person, at some point, will want to draw close to God, hence the phrase "When any man of you brings an offering to the Lord." But just as in the Binding of Isaac, it is said not to sacrifice; the Almighty does not desire a human sacrifice; He wants man to live. Therefore, He provides a ram in place of Isaac.

Similarly, when we express our desire to be a sacrifice to God, that is precisely the time to live. One willing to sacrifice his life - expresses by this that life is essential. Therefore, "From the cattle, from the herd, and the flock, you shall bring your offering." There are many details in the laws of sacrifices; I want to dwell on just one of them. There is a halacha (Jewish law) about offering a bull when the Sanhedrin, the wise men of the nation of Israel, give mistaken legal instruction. Then, there is a big question about offering such a sacrifice.

One crucial thing arises from this: even the sages can err. The Torah does not praise any person as if he were G-d, who does not make mistakes. Even our teacher Moses made a mistake, which is mentioned in the Torah. It is essential to know what obligates us and the norms of morality. A person should not be worshiped; only the Holy One, blessed be He, is infallible, while a human being can err.

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