Disconnect to Reconnect
וַיִּקְרָא, אֶל-מֹשֶׁה; וַיְדַבֵּר ה' אֵלָיו, מֵאֹהֶל מוֹעֵד לֵאמֹר
And Hashem called to Moshe and spoke to him from the Tent of Meeting saying:
This week we begin reading from the book of Leviticus which deals primarily with the sections of the sacrifices that were offered in the Temple. While the Temple stood, everyday thousands of people would come to offer both the communal as well as personal sacrifices to God. The sacrifices served as our way of connecting to Hashem, to achieve atonement for sins, and to give thanks at special occasions. Today, when sacrifices have been replaced with prayer, many have trouble connecting with the portions contained within this book.
The Midrash (Vaykira Rabba 87:3) tells us that the children entering day school for the first time would begin learning from the book of Leviticus. We usually think that In the Beginning… would be a more appropriate place to start, but the custom was not that way. The Midrash explains that just as the sacrifices must be purely holy to be brought upon the Altar in the Temple, we have the purely innocent children learn the laws of the sacrifices. There is something about the innocence of the youth that makes them particularly fitting to appreciate the laws of the sacrifices as a conduit for reaching Holiness.
In the 21st century, the trend is to chase after sophistication. The more buttons and lights on an appliance means the more it can enhance our lives. The more complicated a concept, the more deep it must be. The leisures of yesteryear are no longer applicable to modern man. We multitask instead of focusing on what is in front of us. We crave complexity because we have difficulty appreciating the simple pleasures of life. As Albert Einstein once famously said, “Any man who can drive safely while kissing a pretty girl is simply not giving the kiss the attention it deserves.” In short, when we’re bombarded with distractions we lose sight of what’s actually before us.
Our relationship with God is not complicated. Without the Temple and its accompanying sacrifices, we turn to Hashem through prayer. We stand before Him as a child before their father. Nothing is hidden, nothing is off limits. When we converse with God, we do so as if nothing else in the world matters. We are able to pour out our hearts, and without distraction contemplate our lives. Not only do we speak to God in our prayers, it also serves as our time to disconnect from the world and reconnect with ourselves.
Although we no longer offer sacrifices, we can still continue to appreciate their purity and, hopefully, its impact will permeate into our lives.
Rabbi Michael Kaplan