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Beit Midrash Torah Portion and Tanach Vayikra

Are There No Offerings Today?

Rabbi Stewart WeissNissan 2 5780
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This Shabbat, we begin Sefer Vayikra. Of course, we know that this entire book is all about the many offerings brought in the Mishkan - and later in the Bet HaMikdash - as well as the special rules that apply to all Kohanim, past and present.

But when the Bet HaMikdash was destroyed, the Korbanot stopped. No Chatat or Asham sin-offerings, no Tamid daily offering, no Korban Pesach. Yes, some say the Korban Toda, the Thanks-offering, is still represented by the Birkat Ha-Gomel, recited after a life-threatening experience. But the vast amounts of Korbanot have ceased; nothing nada, gurnisht.

But is that really so?

The ultimate purpose of the offerings was to come closer to Hashem; that is why "Korbanot" is connected to "karov - close." When a person gave of his hard-earned money to buy the offering - be it animal or vegetable, often used to feed or support the Kohanim who administered the service - he was making a statement: "I want to give something of mine to show Hashem that I care; I care about my behavior, and the mistakes I may have made; I care about the holidays; I care about the community at large. I am not an island unto myself; I have responsibilities, I want to give something back in return for this life you have granted me."

Friends, there has never been a better time to bring offerings than right now, in the midst of this frightening, even paralyzing time in which we find ourselves. So many opportunities are right in front of us, unique ways to bring our own personal Korban in the sight of Hashem:

- Offer your tefilot, and pray hard, as if your life depended upon it; - Call a friend, who may be suddenly be unemployed, and offer your sympathy and empathy; - E-mail someone who is scared - as most of us are - and offer hope that it will be all right; - Order take-away food for a neighbor from a certified restaurant and have it delivered to their door. - Offer apologies to someone you may have wronged, or neglected; if this crisis teaches us anything, it is that our existence is unpredictable and time is a tyrant;

Suddenly, all of life has become one gigantic Mizbeyach, an altar upon which we can bring offerings of every kind. Surely these are every bit as effective as those in Biblical days. And who knows - as Hashem watches these offerings being brought in abundance, He will not only end this pandemic, but usher in a new era of health and safety and brotherhood for all. And that is surely a Bet HaMikdash - a "Holy House" - of its own.
Rabbi Stewart Weiss
Was ordained at the Hebrew Theological College in Skokie, Illinois, and led congregations in Chicago and Dallas prior to making Aliyah in 1992. He directs the Jewish Outreach Center in Ra'anana, helping to facilitate the spiritual absorption of new olim.
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