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    Sacrifices & prayers – Emor

    The sidra deals with the priesthood.

    The major task of the kohanim was to conduct the animal sacrifices in the Temple.

    Now that there is no Temple the sacrifices are replaced by prayers.

    A simple substitution, but a difficult idea. What do sacrifices and prayers have in common that one can replace the other?

    Let’s look at both sides of the equation.

    If we say that the central element in a sacrifice is that we give something to God, what are we giving Him when we utter prayers?

    The answer: we are giving Him our status and sovereignty. We are saying, “Just as our ancestors gave you the sacrifice of something that was valuable to them, so we are giving You acknowledgement that You are the One who rules, and we are climbing down from our self-important Tower of Babel to acknowledge ki hamalchut shel’cha hi, that kingship over Creation is in Your hands and not in ours”.

    On the other hand, if we say that the central element in a prayer is communication with God, how did our ancestors communicate with Him in the Temple sacrifices?

    By deeds, speaking to Him through what they did, not just what they said.

    In the Temple their deeds were worship and sacrifice; in the wider world their deeds were ethics and attitudes.

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