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Our service in the Temple centered around the principle of refinement and subduing one's physical desires.

Offer Yourself

Offer Yourself

Bosi L'Gani 5710, Ch. 2

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Offer Yourself
Our service in the Temple centered around the principle of refinement and subduing one's physical desires.

Synopsis

The chapter explains the parallels between bringing a sacrifice in the Temple and a person's individual service of refinement. It emphasized that coming close to G‑d is dependent on the individual himself. It describes the fire from above, i.e. the love of the G‑dly soul and how it should be employed to teach the animal soul as well to come to a feeling of love for G‑dliness.

Discourse

The service in the Temple and the Sanctuary centered around the principle of refinement – subduing one's physical nature, which leads to and brings about the transformation of darkness into light. Therefore, one of the services conducted in the Temple was sacrificial offerings.

Bringing an offering was not merely a physical act.

Bringing an offering was not merely a physical act. On the contrary, the participation of the Priests and the Levites with their songs and music demonstrated that the central importance of a sacrifice was spiritual.

In the personal sphere of a man's service of G‑d, the idea of an offering is expressed by the verse (Levit. 1:2) "A man who shall bring from you an offering to G‑d of the cattle, of the herds, etc." The proper order of transposition of the phraseology shows the verse's intention is not only to describe the details of bringing an offering, but to explain a fundamental principle necessary to understand the spiritual service required when bringing an offering.

The Hebrew word for offering is "korban," which is etymologically related to the root meaning 'to come close.' Bringing an offering was a spiritual service of drawing the soul's powers closer to G‑d. The irregular order of the words in the above verse allows it to be interpreted as follows: "If a person wants to bring an offering, i.e. if he wants to come close to G‑d, then it is from you, dependent on you." (The responsibility and possibility for every individual's connection and closeness to G‑dliness lies within himself.)

Even though a person knows himself well and realizes his essential humility; understands to what degree he has tainted his soul through improper acts, and comprehends how these acts cause a genuine separation between himself and G‑dliness, nevertheless, a person cannot despair and question, "How can I approach G‑d?" Rather, he has to know that to come close to G‑d is 'from you,' dependent upon himself.

Every Jew has the potential to say, "When will my deeds approach the deeds of my forefathers Avraham, Yitzchok, and Ya'akov?" (Tana d'vei Eliyahu Rabba 25) There are no limitations or boundaries, blocks or obstacles. Every Jew had the power to elevate himself, to attain spiritual levels, to draw close to G‑d.

Every Jew had the power to elevate himself...to draw close to G‑d.

"G‑d does not come to His creations with excessive demands", (Avoda Zora 3a) and is revealed to each one according to his potential; as the Midrash declares: "When G‑d approaches a man, he does not demand of him (Infinite) Divine Power, rather, for man to serve G‑d with his own power" (Bamidbar Rabba 12:3) to fully utilize and actualize his own personal potential. Since G‑d asks only according to the potential we possess, there are no obstacles preventing us from reaching the highest level of service.

(The above mentioned concept) is the meaning of the verse, "A person will bring an offering from you," that a person's closeness and connection to G‑d is 'from you,' dependent upon himself.

(Furthermore, the words "from you" hold another implication.)The offering of an animal is 'from you,' from the animal inside of you, our animal souls. The verse continues, "From the herd and the sheep" different levels, because each individual has a different task of personal refinement. Some have to bring an offering of an ox, i.e. their animal nature can be compared to a goring ox, l others only a sheep, i.e. their animal nature is more docile, still animal, but more docile. (All these various levels and their counterparts in personal service are discussed in the Discourse on Prayer by Rav Sholom Dov Ber, the Fifth Lubavitcher Rebbe.) The closing words of the verse conclude on the same line, "They should bring their offerings;" that each particular individual had to bring his own offering, has his own unique task of personal refinement.

When an offering was brought in the Temple, it was sacrificed on the altar. The Talmud (Yoma 21b) relates that the fire of the altar which consumed the offerings (was not ordinary fire, but rather a divine fire that) crouched like a lion, as the Zohar (I, 6b) declares "A lion would consume the sacrifices," (This fire fell from heaven itself during the time of Solomon.)

This heavenly fire also has its counterpart in an individual's personal service. Each individual has within his (heart) divine fire, the flames of his G‑dly soul, (as explained in the verse – "Its coals are coals of fire, the flame of G‑d." (Songs 8:6))

The Midrash states this fire is like divine fire. It cannot evaporate water or be quenched by water. Similarly, the fire in the heart of the Jew cannot be quenched. (As Songs (8:7) proclaims) "Great waters cannot quench the love nor rivers wash it away." The term "great waters" (is interpreted in Chassidic thought to mean) the worries of making a living and other bothers that can disturb one's service of Torah and mitzvos. Nevertheless, "Rivers won't drive it out"; just as divine fire cannot be extinguished, similarly, no force, no difficulties or problems can quench the fire of a Jew's G‑dly soul.

(Just as the physical offering was consumed by the divine fire of the altar, similarly, in the personal sphere,) the offering, each individual's animal soul has to be consumed by his personal divine fire. The animal soul has to be taught to develop a love for G‑dliness.

(The Shema says,) "Love G‑d with all levavcha (your heart)". (Deut. 6:5) (Normally the word used for 'your heart' would be libcha; instead, the Torah uses 'levavcha.' The doubling of the letter 'veit' is interpreted by the Talmud (Berachot 54a) as: "with all your hearts, with both your desires," that not only the G‑dly soul, but also the animal soul comes to love G‑d.

The animal soul by nature has no knowledge of or feelings for G‑dliness.

The animal soul by nature has no knowledge of or feelings for G‑dliness. Nevertheless, through the G‑dly soul's involvement with the animal soul, i.e. through meditation on spiritual concepts in a manner in which the animal soul can also comprehend, a general impression is made to the point where the animal soul can appreciate that G‑dliness also has value and importance. (The process continues to the point) where the animal soul becomes an offering; it, too, draws close to G‑d. Its animal nature is transformed and becomes consumed by the fire of the G‑dly soul (just as the offering in the Temple was consumed by the fire of the altar). After this service, "many harvests can be made through the power of an ox" (i.e., the animal soul contributes its power and strength to the service of G‑d (Proverbs 14:4)).

(In the Temple, one of the purposes of the offerings was the refinement of the world.) The sacrifices caused the G‑dly sparks contained within the mineral, vegetable, and animal elements to be refined and elevated. Similarly, the spiritual service connected with the sacrifices refines the animal soul and transform its darkness into light.

(And through this service) "You shall make Me a Sanctuary and I will dwell within," within each individual. This is accomplished through his service of subduing his nature, which brings its transformation. Then, the Zohar states, "when the Sitra Achra will be subdued, then the glory of G‑d, the light of Sovev Kol Almin will be revealed in all the worlds."


[From the 'Sichos in English' translation—first edition.]

Copyright 2003 by KabbalaOnline.org. All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this work or portions thereof, in any form, unless with permission, in writing, from Kabbala Online.

From the writings & talks of Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn of Lubavitch.

Translated by Rabbi Sholom B. Wineberg

Edited by Uri Kaploun
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