Parshas Vayikrah

  Sacrifice. Unblemished bulls. Priests. Guilt. Blood. Sin. These themes were viscerally very difficult to overcome when I read the text. It was difficult to read because of the shift in mentality modernity has brought and the graphic descriptions of these theme

Modernity has brought enlightenment to vast populations otherwise shut off from the world. It also brought modern sensitivities including progressive Judaism, access to privileges to more people, and the development of modern societies and nation states. Sacrifices can be a difficult concept to grasp when living in the modern era.

This brings me to the three verses and their choice of words and detailed descriptions I have just read. Sacrifice. Unblemished bulls. Priests. Guilt. Blood. Sin. As Moderns, we can disavow the practice of sacrifices, but we cannot escape our memory of these things. Our memory lives on.

Memory cannot serve any function if it is empty of a visceral connection. Memory is preserved by an emotional attachment to visceral experiences. Seeing the pictures of my relatives, many of whom I was never fortunate enough to meet, that were taken in Russia connects me to them more closely than if I knew their names or where they were born.

 Our memories have filed the experience of sacrifice, and these memories are preserved within us. We never know when, but sometimes a memory can come to life through access points and our modern-day experiences.

The moment when past and present experiences and worlds bridge together is always beautiful. Prayer, as we know, developed in the wake of a theology without a temple. When it is done right, the visceral emotions tied to a sacrifice is awoken within us.