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    Wait until the time comes – Vayikra

    korbanotThough the siddur looks forward to the reinstitution of the sacrifices which are set out in such detail in Parashat Vayikra, Franz Rosenzweig and some other modern thinkers advise us to wait until the moment of redemption comes and work out an attitude to sacrifices at that point.

    Rav Kook had a different approach. As a kohen he was anxious to be ready for the rebuilding of the Temple and the recommencement of the sacrificial and other tasks of the kohanim.

    Which point of view is to be preferred?

    From the theological point of view the Rav Kook approach has more to commend it, even though we understand Franz Rosenzweig’s ambivalence and hesitation. In thinking about Rav Kook and sacrifices we need to spare a thought for the story of Abraham, Isaac and the Akedah.

    In the Akedah narrative, God tells Abraham to offer up his son. The text does not say that God told Isaac of His plan, but we learn between the lines that once Isaac knew what was going on, he acquiesced. Does this mean that he was prepared to sacrifice himself on the altar of Divine service? There is no other conclusion we can come to. In the end it was not Isaac who was offered up, but a substitute in the form of a ram. The outcome is that instead of giving himself to God, an animal was offered.

    Similarly with the sacrificial code of Vayikra, instead of giving one’s life to God one worships Him by giving Him a choice possession.

    In terms of today, the believing human being says, “God, Your bounty to me and all Your creatures is so overwhelming that I really want to give all of myself to You, but instead of giving You myself I offer my time and talents and a token of part of my possessions.”

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