The root of the Hebrew word for sacrifice, korban, can be translated as near or close. Sacrifice, then, is better understood in the biblical context as the way in which we draw near to the Divine. It is an invitation to achieve a sense of intimacy and communion with God. In our modern context, sacrifice is what we offer of ourselves in our attempt to achieve a deeper connection with those people, causes and things about which we are passionate.
Moreover, the fiery passion that may accompany intimacy, if unchecked, can be all-consuming, excluding to others, and costly to the self. When we care passionately about a person or a cause, we may throw ourselves–our emotional energy, our time, our resources–into the relationship. Sometimes we may even go too far in our zeal, forgetting about self-care and about our other priorities, and excluding the voices of others who may share our passions or who may stand in opposition because of their own hierarchy of values.
Relationship requires sacrifice. If we are to achieve true intimacy, we must be ready to give with no expectation of reward, to assume the risk of being hurt or even of hurting another despite our best intentions. We must be prepared to get messy, because the intensity and zeal that can accompany intimacy is not always accompanied by rational behavior.
But sacrifice also requires regulation and control. The failure to curb one’s enthusiasm can lead to disastrous results, harming the parties to the intimacy and those tangentially related. While we may no longer approach God with sacrifices in hand, we must build sanctuaries in our hearts, with altars fed by our purest intentions, upon which we offer our deeds. And as we bring our souls to the altar of intimate connections, may we not lose sight of those around us ready to do the same.
Rabbi Craig Scheff
Place before Me
Your vulnerability and regret
Your wholeness and gratitude
Stand in My presence
With outstretched hands
Offer Me your heart
Do You not recognize the companion of Your soul?
From every stranger, neighbor, friend and lover
In every dawn and dusk
In every breath
where You will find me waiting
I CaLL to You, with a small “a-aleph”
To remind You that I am,
That We are One
In all things
Raise Your body to the heavens
Stretch Your fingers to the skies
Wave Your offering to the universe;
But look to Your palms
I have sacrificed for You
“AND THE LORD CaLLED TO MOSES….” (Leviticus 1:1)