Vayikra: Service to G-d, or Primitive Ritual?

Without a doubt there will be those who object to our bringing the following quote from a particular “religious” Jew who is one of the biggest opponents to the renewal of the sacrifices in our generation.

During a special convention dealing with the Temple Mount, one of the participants who dons a yarmulke and carries with the title of “Rabbi”, made the following comment: “Must we inhale the smell of charred meat in order to manifest our religiousness?..”

And so, why must we bring the words of enemies of Judaism in our parsha commentary? Why give them a forum? Aren’t there things more holy todiscuss on this topic?

The answer is that in many ways, almost every Jew, including observant ones, possesses thoughts similar to the above, and it is this complete mindset which must be changed. What exactly do we mean? After 2,000 years of living without a Temple and without sacrifices, the mere idea of offering sacrifices (the bringing of an animal, slaughtering it with a knife, and bringing its flesh up to the fire on the altar for G-d), has been virtually forgotten. People have even begun to reject and mock the entire concept of animal sacrifices. After all, who does such things today?

For this reason, while it would never cross the lips of a believing Jew to cancel the service of the fire offerings, he also does not exhibit a great yearning to see the “religion” of Judaism return to the days when the offering of the sacrifices stood at their very center. He, too, can not help but think of all this as something that belongs to the Dark Ages.

I mean, between us, who really needs to see flocks of sheep and cattle being scorched on the Temple Mount? After all, serving G-d in the manner in which we have become accustomed includes davening, fasting and other such ritual. How can we suddenly serve G-d in such a crude and material way? Isn’t such practice more appropriate for such countries like India?

But the fact is, clearly, that the way to get close to G-d is the way that G-d Himself told us to; not the way it appears through our very mortal and limited eyes. And G-d set down that the way to serve Him (nu, what can you do?), is to take an unblemished animal and offer it on the altar in the place which G-d chose, on the Temple Mount, as we contemplate how it is really WE who deserve to be slaughtered for our sin. This process nullifies our egos, and actualizes in a very concrete way the severity of our sin and the punishment we deserve, thereby enabling us to reach higher levels of spirituality. Prayer? Fasts? Of course! But only as something to supplement the sacrifices.

Our words are not directed towards that same clown we quoted earlier. Our words are directed at you, the reader, who perhaps mistakenly underestimated the vital importance of the service of the sacrifices and the critical need to restore it.

Know and remember! For 2,000 years, all our prayers have been for the return of our Temple and for the renewal of the sacrifices, as we say in the Amida prayer three times each day, “Restore the service to the Holy of Holies of your Temple. Speedily accept the fire offerings of Israel…”

Do not dare think that today we have “progressed”, and already “passed that stage”. Such thoughts eliminate a very hefty portion of the 613 Mitzvot, and one who would consider canceling even one of them is guilty of heresy.

Let us not be counted among those “moderdox” Jews who attempt to create G-d in their own image. Let us be true Torah Jews who accept all of G-d’s laws regardless of how it may jive with some western concepts which may have diluted our ability to understand and practice authentic Judaism.

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