Drawing closer through sacrifice

This week we are reading the opening chapters of the third book in the Torah – VaYikrah (Leviticus). I always used to get bored during this part of the year’s readings, as they are heavily focused on legal matters, details regarding animal sacrifices, etc. I’ve come to understand these chapters differently as an adult, however, and part of the reason I read them differently is because I was blessed with a Jewish Day School education, and because I know some Hebrew.

The book opens with a list of different sacrifices. If you read the word sacrifice in English, you think about giving something up, like the sacrifices one spouse makes in order to allow the other to pursue an extra hobby or more education. In Hebrew, however, the word for sacrifice is korban, which comes from a root meaning “to draw near, get closer.” The shift in understanding the concept of sacrifices based on the Hebrew is profound. Instead of focusing on what we are giving up, we focus on the meaning of the giving – it is an attempt to draw closer to one another and to the divine.

Most of the time we think in terms of what is our own – our home, our phone, our time, our bank account. But of course what we know more deeply is that we can be very wealthy in material ways, and simultaneously exist below the poverty line in our relationships with friends, family, or spirituality.

This is the shift in perspective that we need when we consider the holy work of running, supporting, or working at a school like Gesher. We offer our supporters and community the opportunity to engage – to draw closer (L’Karev) to our joyful family and through giving, to be enriched themselves.

When you truly shift your perspective from one of sacrifice to one of engagement, then you are in the position to actually enjoy the benefits of your own giving. I hope that our whole community has the opportunity to personally experience the difference our commitment to Gesher makes in the lives of our teachers and children. Because of Gesher, there will be another generation of children with the tools to do what I am doing right now – make an adult reading of ancient Jewish text in the original Hebrew relevant for myself and others.

Modeling giving in the spirit of engagement can be a powerful message for those of us that are raising children – why not take a moment to discuss the ways in which your family draws closer internally or to others through your own Korbanot (sacrifices).

Shabbat Shalom,