Leviticus Institutionalizes Sacrifice as Self-Care & Communal Responsibility
Welcome to Awakening: Torah Mussar Mindfulness, where we at The Institute for Holiness: Kehilat Mussar meet weekly at 15:00/3pm EST on Sundays to learn from the Torah/Hebrew Bible portion that we just observed on the Jewish Sabbath/Shabbat from the unique lens of Mussar Mindfulness and then apply what we learn to our seated Insight Meditation and Mindfulness practice. You may join us on Zoom (link here) or LIVE on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube. All sessions are recorded and can be found at our website (www.kehilatmussar.com) in the Blog section.
Before we begin delving into the weekly Torah/Hebrew Bible portion/parasha, this week being Vayikra, we pray that our Intention/Kavannah be of learning Torah, Mussar, and the Dharma together and practicing Mussar Mindfulness. We commit to learn and practice together once a week to strengthen our Middot/soul-traits and souls, to be of service to others and God/Hashem; indeed, to bring God’s Good to others.
We always begin our practice with our Kavanah/Intention for today’s practice: to do this type of practice and care as an act of self-care and to connect us with the Divine, and ultimately, to other people. So, before doing this engagement of learning and practice together we say: this is something I am doing to strengthen my own soul in order to be of benefit to others in the future; and then our last paragraph: this is something that I’m doing to strengthen my relationship with the Creator so that I can be a better conduit of God’s Good to others when they need me. (See below)
We use the first and third Kavanot/Intentions listed below for today’s learning and practice:
We begin Vayikra with deep awareness of what precedes the call of God to bring sacrifices, known as Korbanot. Recall in last week’s parasha, Pekudei, how our ancestors finished giving and building with their free-will and generous hearts their new community center, known as the Mishkan, the Tabernacle. And this center was sacred because the Israelites participated in building something that benefitted everyone, so that God may dwell among them.
And you may recall that in God’s wisdom, our ancestors’ giving and building enacted a Tikkun, a Teshuva, of returning to the upright, wholesome path that God had commanded. Their contributory deeds done with a generous and wise heart on behalf of the whole community functioned as repentance for their building and/or witnessing the golden calf.
See their building the Mishkan as their first spiritual practice retreat: Intense, directed, short term, contained specific practice that began to exercise their spiritual muscles, direct and open their hearts, and prepare them for the long term practice we will now witness in Vayikra: bringing some sacrifices with a generous heart and some because they are obligated and need to participate in their reconciliation and repentance.
The spiritual discipline of offering a sacrifice for a larger purpose has begun to be institutionalized in Vayikra/Leviticus. ק.ר.ב/K.R.V means to draw near, close, and that root is in the word Korban/Sacrifice. In building the golden calf, our ancestors were attempting to have a Moshe-replacement, to cause Moshe and God to draw close: to respond to their korban, their offering. Here too, when our ancestors were to bring an animal sacrifice or flour-gift to the community center called the Mishkan, they were attempting to draw God near, to fulfill the conditions that God would accept them and affect atonement. In their drawing close, and sacrificing something for God (in having to give up something, even a life of an animal), they were realigning themselves with the upright path expected of them by God.
We are meant to give up something meaningful to us to draw near to the Divine, to benefit others by including them in our sacrifice (for example in the Shalmim offering, שלמים), and to admit and correct sin and guilt.
And we are not only meant to sacrifice something for God, but also we are meant to draw near, to sacrifice, in a wholesome way. How? With humility, taking up the proper amount of space, and with a generous heart. We have come full circle with our initial practice of gift-offering and building the Mishkan with Nadiv-Lev/נדיב-לב, with a generous heart. That short-term intensive practice laid down the foundation for Leviticus’ long-term, institutionalized daily practice of sacrifices.
Thank you to God, our ancestors, our Mussar teachers, and the wisdom of the Buddha and Buddhist traditions for enabling us to share this Torah, this Awakening of Torah through Mussar Mindfulness. May we merit that our learning and awakening of Vayikra bring comfort and wisdom to all beings and to alleviate the suffering of all beings. Thank you. Shalom, Namaste.
Join us at The Institute for Holiness: Kehilat Mussar to begin this beautiful, holy, life-long journey in the practice of Mussar Mindfulness. For the those who are already practitioners, come make your spiritual home with us. Learn and practice Mussar Mindfulness, taking refuge in our community, in God and the wisdom of the Dharma, in the teachings of the Torah and Mussar and the Buddha. Membership information here: https://kehilatmussar.com/membership/
Any questions, comments, or concerns, please do be in touch at email@example.com. We value hearing from you about how this practice is going for you: of what benefit is this learning and practice to you.
Podcast Audio Below:
Awakening Nitzavim: Torah Mussar Mindfulness, 52nd Sitting – Mussar Mindfulness with Rabbi Chasya of The Institute for Holiness: Kehilat Mussar
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