Tzav

Sacrifices have been replaced by prayer; words now express the same religious instincts that sacrifices did. The laws of sacrifices can therefore teach us how to pray. Both the list of sacrifices and daily prayers end with shelamim, offerings of peace and completeness. They express thankfulness, and a desire to complete our joy by uniting it with God’s. It is sometimes hard to think in these terms: our joy is often clouded by anxiety and suffering. These can’t be dismissed, and they too should be expressed in prayer. But they mustn’t overwhelm gratefulness for what we do have. It is through totally sharing what we have with others and – symbolically – with God, that we sanctify its essence, and our own.

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[Inspired by: Leviticus 7, with the insights of R.S.R Hirsch and Rabenu Behaye; Rambam’s Mishneh Torah Ma’aseh Hakorbanot 3:15; Eugene Delacroix’s Noce juive au Marocand Emmanuel Levinas, ‘Substitution‘.]

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