"If he offers it in order to give thanks…." (Lev. 7:12)

In the Messianic era, communal sacrifices will continue to be offered up, but there will no longer be personal sacrifices, with the sole exception of the thanksgiving-offering. Similarly, we are taught [in various Midrashim] that in the messianic era, all forms of prayer will cease except for prayers of thanksgiving.

The purpose of personal sacrifices (other than the thanksgiving-offering) is to orient the animal soul toward Divinity. (In certain cases, this involves atoning for sin.) Since in the messianic era this process will have been completed—and we will no longer sin—these types of sacrifices will become superfluous. Only the thanksgiving-offering, whose function is to express our acknowledgement of our dependence upon G‑d, will remain.

...we will no longer need to pray for our needs...

Along the same lines, we will no longer need to pray for our needs: we will lack nothing, illness and poverty will be matters of the past, and harmony and spiritual sensitivity will become the hallmark of society. Prayer, in its conventional sense of beseeching G‑d, will become obsolete, and only its thanksgiving-aspect will live on, as we continuously acknowledge G‑d’s benevolence and wonders.

From this functional perspective, the endurance of the thanksgiving-offering and thanksgiving prayer is merely circumstantial. From a deeper perspective, both the consumption of the sacrifices in the ascending Divine flames and the soul’s passionate aspirations to dissolve in G‑dliness through prayer serve to disentangle us from our mundane trappings, drawing us nearer to G‑d ("closeness" being the literal meaning of the word for "sacrifice," קרבן) and connecting us to Him ("connectedness" being the literal meaning of the word for "prayer," תפלה). Since the physical realm is currently the lowest spiritual rung of existence, we strive to rise above it and cleave to our Divine source.

...even the supernal angels will draw inspiration from the physical realm.

In the messianic era, however, the physical realm will be saturated with G‑dliness no less than the loftiest spiritual realms — and in fact, even more so; even the supernal angels will draw inspiration from the physical realm. As a result, we will not need to rise above our milieu, and the sacrifices and prayers will become obsolete.

But thanksgiving will persist, for rather than the endeavor to reach a higher consciousness, thanksgiving is the experience of that consciousness, the recognition and awe of G‑d’s presence in our lives. As our Divine awareness perpetually heightens, our exultation in its experience will intensify accordingly.

Adapted from Ohr Torah 97a; Ohr HaTorah, Vayikra, vol. 1, p. 23; ibid Nach, vol 2, pp. 963-964; Yaheil Ohr, p. 369
© 2001 Chabad of California/www.LAchumash.org