Tzav continues detailing the offerings to be brought to the Creator in order to be close to Him. We have mentioned (see our commentaries on Parshat Tzav: “Keeping the fire up” on March 24, 2015 and “The permanent fire of God’s love” on March 12, 2014 in this blog) that in this process three parties are involved: the one who brings the offering, the priest and God, and the purpose is to unify all three.
We realize this union by integrating in our consciousness the Creator through His ways and attributes, which are His love for His creation. After all, He is beyond our comprehension and our only way to “know” Him is through His creation, and His ways to direct it and sustain it. We realize this knowledge through the awareness of our connection with God, and the high priest represents this awareness.
Our offerings are all the traits and qualities in our consciousness (which encompass all aspects of life given to us by the Creator) to lift them up to serve Him through His ways and attributes, and we do that through love as our common bond with Him.
Let’s reflect on the wise words of Maimonides (the Rambam) regarding the offerings.
“The location of the altar is very exactly defined, and is never to be changed. It is a commonly held tradition that the place where [king] David and [king] Solomon built the altar on the threshing floor of Arona, is the very place where Abraham built an altar and bound Isaac upon it; this is where Noah built [an altar] when he came out from the ark; this is where Cain and Abel brought their offerings; this is where Adam, the First Man, offered a korban when he was created, and from [the earth of] this place he was created. Thus the sages have said: ‘Man was formed from the place of his atonement’.” (Mishneh Torah, Laws of the Holy Temple, chapter II)
Our life and all that it encompasses are the offerings, the place is our consciousness through which we are aware of our Creator, and we have said that atonement is the transforming process from unawareness and separation from Him to the certainty that we are united with Him. This transformation takes place through divine fire, which is the love of God.
Analogically, the process is similar to the effect of fire as a catalyst to transmute one state of matter into another for a specific purpose. In this sense, a high fever has the potential to transmute a physical condition for better or worse, but seen in another way we can say that a cloud has a silver lining.
The priest lights up the fire as our ardent love to join the Creator, who also provides His fire for us. The process of elevating our life to Him indeed implies atonement as the means to purify all aspects of consciousness in order to turn them into the empty vessels that the Creator fills with His ways and attributes.
Then we have two catalysts: the priest as the permanent awareness of our connection to God’s love, and our love as the essence that yearns to be close to Him. This is how the offerings are sublimated to the Creator.
Adam, the first man, had it more clear than us because he was alone with the Creator and realized easier his connection with Him. Cain and Abel realized it through their individual experiences in the material word. Abel did it through a higher awareness of the Divine Presence in His creation; while Cain did it through what his ego, senses and instincts led him to experience.
Cain and Abel represent the divided and opposed, dual, fractured consciousness as a result of Adam’s transgression. Abel’s offerings were preferred because he elevated all the potential goodness in the material world for the service of the Creator’s ways and attributes as our purpose in life. Cain’s offerings were disregarded because he rather followed ego’s material fantasies and illusions and sensuality (represented by vegetable life) as the purpose of life.
Noah’s mission was to unify human consciousness but he fractured it even more through his three sons. Shem (the higher consciousness or priesthood), Japhet (the conscious mind as potentially able to discern right from wrong), and Ham (the attachment to sensuality and the potentially negative aspects of lower consciousness).
By his own awareness, Abraham realized that human consciousness is destined to act and express all its aspects and dimensions as the unified and harmonic vehicle to reflect the unity of the Creator and His ways and attributes in His creation. In this realization, Abraham and his son Isaac both offered their lives to the service of the Creator in the full awareness that all comes from Him and belongs to Him.
In this knowledge there is no room for the vanities and futility of ego’s fantasies and illusions. In this same awareness, Jacob realized the legacy of his fathers Isaac and Abraham as the destiny to be fulfilled by him and his descendants.
This is our destiny as legacy and inheritance, and in order to fulfill it let’s be mindful that Israel’s lineage comes from Shem through Abraham, Isaac and Jacob as inheritors of the priesthood as the highest consciousness of God’s love, in the knowledge that His ways and attributes direct His creation.
Our forefathers chose this destiny for them and for us, their descendants, and we also must choose back to God’s love as our essence and identity that makes us different from the other nations. We choose back to our priesthood because the Creator commands us to be a kingdom of priests to proclaim His kingdom on Earth, which is His justice and righteousness. These are the material manifestations of His love in order to guide all nations in His ways.
Individually, we internalize this commandment to direct and guide all aspects of consciousness in love’s ways and attributes, opposite to falling into the negative dominion and subjugation of ego’s materialistic fantasies and illusions, represented by the “nations” and “peoples” of the Earth.
Only love’s ways and attributes represent true life, and this is why we ask our Creator.
“And say: ‘Redeem us, O God of our redemption, and gather us together and deliver us from the nations, [so] that we may give thanks to Your holy name, [so] that in Your praise we may triumph’.” (I Chronicles 16:35)
Triumph as redemption comes when we become His ways and attributes by being and doing the goodness of His love as our true identity, and this is the meaning of our praises to Him. The Torah commands us to act, and our actions are our praises to God. We act according to His ways and attributes. We ask Him to lead us in our destiny to gather us together and deliver us from ego’s fantasies and illusions.
Our praises are our offerings as the good actions to elevate all aspects of life to God’s love, and in them we indeed are gathered together and redeemed. This is our legacy and destiny we want permanently in our lives, because His ways are His compassion, loving kindness and truth that protect us when we do goodness, as He commands us.
“Do not withhold your compassion from me, O Lord. Let Your loving kindness and Your truth always protect me. All the ways of the Lord are loving and faithful for those who keep the demands of His covenant.” (Psalms 40:12, 25:10)
The goodness of our actions as love’s ways and attributes are the offerings we elevate in our highest awareness of His presence.
“Send forth Your light and Your truth, let them guide me; let them bring me to Your holy mountain [the Tabernacle, the Temple of Jerusalem], to the place where You dwell.” (43:3)
That place is our highest awareness of our connection to God’s love.