In this week's parasha, we find details of the offerings/sacrifices our ancestors brought to the Temple in Jerusalem (five essential kinds, each for a different purpose, each connected to a different character trait). We're at the start of the third book of Torah, Sefer Vayikra, the Book of Leviticus. In past generations, Vayikra was the starting point for introducing young children to Torah, and it was with good reason.
The Hebrew word often translated as sacrifice or offering is korban, which actually means "drawing near" [to God]. There's more to it than a description of an ancient, archaic ritual.
The offerings brought to the Jerusalem Temple and the way in which they were offered were so physical, involving the various senses in graphic display, and really giving deeply of oneself, perhaps even an animal that you had helped deliver and then raised and fed and nurtured for years. There was emotion, 'skin in the game,' connection...
There is a story told about the great violinist Isaac Stern. After concluding a presentation, a student approached him saying, "I would do anything to be able to play the violin as beautifully as you did." Stern is reported to have replied: "Would you give 12 hours a day for it?"
What are we willing to do to find the connection and meaning we seek today? How do we 'draw close'? What can we do to add depth and range of emotion to our prayer and holy work?
Vayikra means 'And [God] called'...:
What is God calling out to each of us to do?
May my preparation for Shabbat and kindling of the Shabbat lights be an offering, one that will serve to draw me nearer to You and to the purpose for which You have created