Parshat Vayikra: The high priest in our consciousness

“And the priest shall make atonement for him before the Lord, and he shall be forgiven concerning whatsoever he does so as to be guilty thereby.” (Leviticus 5:26)

We have referred to Leviticus as the book of the Torah about our connection with our Creator, for the service of God is what links us with Him. The service in the Tabernacle and Temple of Jerusalem is about what binds us to God and share with Him.

We have also said that every character, place, name and circumstance narrated in the Torah represent something in our consciousness. In the case of those related to the children of Israel, each echoes in one aspect, facet, level and dimension of who we are as Jews. The service in the Tabernacle or Temple involves three essential characters, the priests, the Levites and Israel, and all of them are functioning parts of the Jewish identity.

The priests as the highest level of consciousness that is closest to God, the Levites as the entreating and stirring feelings and emotions that evoke and invite God’s presence in us, and Israel as the final expression of God’s presence in all aspects and expressions of life in the material world. Hence we deduce that these three “levels” are actually means to fulfill God’s will for Israel.

We must insist that what we have called levels and means must be also understood as dimensions, for they are not on top of each other or overlapping, or imposing on each other. As we just said, they are part of one united consciousness destined to manifest God’s will in the world. This approach reminds us the complementary differences among the sons of Jacob, as the tribes that were commanded to elevate their sacrificial offerings to their God.

One of the essential functions of the service in the Temple is to unite the people of Israel for the purpose of bonding with God, and live this unfathomable experience King David and other Sages describe as the utmost ecstatic jubilation.

In this context we realize the function of the priest as the ultimate connecting and binding aspect of our consciousness, that culminates the evoking and entreating love of the people of Israel for their God; and the exhilarating joy in our emotions and feelings singing and dancing of happiness that the Levites stir, to rise our hearts and be touched by God’s love.

Thus we understand the atonement that the priest does when our total awareness of the goodness God wants us to be, to have and manifest, is the one we want to have every moment of our lives. We indeed atone when we come to the realization that only goodness can rectify and transform our wrong doings and negative actions.

We have said that Moses represents our highest knowledge of God, and Aaron the permanent awareness of our connection with Him. Our knowledge of the Creator precedes our awareness of the connection with Him. In this approach we realize that the more we know God’s ways and attributes, the more we are closer to the goodness these are as the guiding traits and qualities that maintain and retain goodness in us.

Thus we understand who the priest is in us, for he is the culmination of what God wants for us to establish permanently in all aspects and expressions of life, the goodness with which we bond when we are close to Him with the offerings we elevate in the connecting time and space we know as the Temple of Jerusalem.

About the Author
Ariel Ben Avraham was born in Colombia (1958) from a family with Sephardic ancestry. He studied Cultural Anthropology in Bogota, and lived twenty years in Chicago working as a radio and television producer and writer. He emigrated to Israel in 2004, and for the last fourteen years has been studying the Chassidic mystic tradition, about which he writes and teaches. Based on his studies, he wrote his first book "God's Love" in 2009. He currently lives in Zefat.
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