In this year of COVID, what have you done to draw close to God or to others? At times when you feel apart or adrift, what actions have you taken to be connected to others? The entire principle of korbanot, animal sacrifices, was not to kill animals for animals’ sake: rather it is to draw close to the Holy One.
Imagine offering your choicest flock on the altar with the Kohen granting you atonement for a sin. The thoughts going through your head are likely “That could have been me. Time to repent for my actions.” By seeing an animal’s life taken instead of your own, it would jolt you into returning to God.
Today we have prayer for atonement, but prayer is much less visceral and tangible. Saying words from one’s lips is not the same as being part of the sacrifice of an animal. Those who have been to the Samaritan sacrifice at Mount Gerizim, which will occur again this coming week, know the impact this sacrifice has in bringing a community closer together and towards God.
I am not calling for a return to animal sacrifice: rather for a reflection on what you can do to draw closer to your community and to God. While COVID has made us physically apart, now is the time to begin thinking about how to come back together in joy, warmth, and closeness. May we think about what our Korban, our efforts to draw close, will be as we approach Passover.