Parshat Vayikra: Uniting our love with God’s love

Most of the book of Vayikra refers to our connection and relationship with the Creator, defined in the Torah as the priesthood, hence this book was named “Leviticus” by non-Jewish sources.

This connection and relationship with God occur primordially through the study of the Torah, the fulfillment of His commandments, and the offerings (“sacrifices”) we elevate to Him in order to be close to Him.

Our sages question the point of presenting “meal” offerings to the Creator, knowing perfectly well that He does not “need” anything from us but all the way around. They quote king David to reaffirm the point.

“Should I hunger I would not tell you, for the world and all it contains is Mine, and its fullness. Do I eat the flesh of bulls, or drink the blood of goats? Sacrifice to God the offering of thanksgiving; and pay your vows to the Most High; and call upon Me in the day of trouble [because] I will deliver you, and you shall honor Me.” (Psalms 50:12-15)

Hence it is about us and our attitude toward God’s love that make us desire to come close to Him, as it is also indicated.

“For your own desire you should offer it.” (Leviticus 19:5)

Our offerings to Him are the traits, qualities and dimensions of our common essence with Him, and all these as expressions of our Love as the guide and conductor of all our ways. This is the sweetness we experience and rejoice with, as we also delight in His glory that is His love.

Our sages too refer to this sweetness when they say of a large ox, “A fire-offering, a sweet savor”; of a small bird, “A fire-offering, a sweet savor”; and of a meal-offering, “A fire-offering, a sweet savor.” They teach us that for God this sweetness is the same whether one offers much (an ox) or little (a dove) from whom offers, as long as he directs his heart (love) to Heaven (to honor God by being and doing His ways and attributes).

This sweetness is embraced by humbleness as our means to manifest love in all we are and do, because humbleness is the empty vessel to pour God’s will in our lives.

The sages illustrate this with a story.

“A bull was taken to be sacrificed in the Temple but refused to move on. A poor man came with a bundle of hay in his hand and gave it to the bull, which ate it. Then the bull let itself be taken to the Temple. The owner of the bull was told in a dream that the poor man’s offering to the bull was greater than the owner’s offering of the bull.”

As we have mentioned in other commentaries, the bull represents ego as the driving force we must elevate to the Creator’s will, through the highest awareness of our connection with Him (represented by the priest in the temple), and we do this through love as the natural conductor and guide of all levels and dimensions of consciousness, ego included.

The poor man represents humbleness as the means with which we convey love (the hay) to feed and direct our driving force to the service of God. In this sense, humbleness and love are greater than ego’s materialistic desires (the bull).

In this regard ego’s agenda is excluded from any of our ways, means and attributes to honor God’s love and His will.

“No meal-offering, which you shall bring to the Lord shall be made with leaven; for you shall make no leaven, nor any honey, [to burn to] smoke as an offering made by fire onto the Lord.” (2:11)

In this case leaven represents pride as self-enlargement, and is one of the reasons that our forefathers ate unleavened bread (matzah) during the Exodus from Egypt.

Let’s be mindful that every level of consciousness must be an empty vessel to be filled with God’s ways and attributes, and never forget that these do not cohabit with anything different from them.

Honey represents sensuality under the control of ego’s fantasies and illusions. Our sages also remind us that God does not relate to one who is full of himself, and He refers to the prideful as one so full of himself that does not have space for God to dwell with him in the world.

In the total awareness of our love and God’s love with their common ways and attributes, peace also becomes the cause and the effect.

Our sages teach that the peace offering is not intended to atone as the other offerings, but exclusively for the enjoyment and delight to be close to the Creator. What is peaceful about it is the fact that the person who brings this offering, the priest and God share together the offering.

This makes it the perfect offering because there are no other reasons except for enjoying our connection with the One who gives us life and all we are and have.

This awareness safeguards our freedom from any entanglement in ego’s fantasies and illusions, and in this freedom we celebrate His love as our sustenance and the essence from which He created us.

In this connection we realize that our love is His love that nurtures us, and in this awareness we know that our love is the bond with His love.

“(…) all the fat is to the Lord.” (3:16)

Our enthusiasm (“all the fat”), as the greatest happiness and enjoyment, is what He wants from us: to be happy and rejoice in this world. Our utmost satisfaction, fulfillment and delight are to realize that God’s love is our true essence and identity.

The portion ends with the atonement for transgressions against our fellow man, and are defined as betrayals against the Creator.

“If a person sins, and commits a betrayal against the Lord, and lies to his fellow (…)” (5:21)

Lying becomes a breach of trust and allegiance against our very essence and identity. One of the synonyms of love is truth, and such as there is no room for anything different than its attributes, and the context of love is the ways we relate to our fellow man.

All the ways and means of love are truth as the psalmist points it out.

“All the paths of the Lord are loving kindness and truth to those keeping His covenant and His testimonies. (…) Do not withhold Your compassion from me, O Lord; may your loving kindness and your truth always protect me.” (Psalms 25:10, 40:12)

Love and truth are inherent to one another. If there is no love there is no truth, and if there is no truth there is no love; therefore without them there is no redemption.

“Guide me in Your truth and teach me, for you are God my redeemer, and my hope is in You all day long.” (25:5)

God’s love is the truth of His ways and attributes, and all we call truth in the material world and in every level of consciousness must be in consonance with His truth. There is one love, and that is God’s love; and one truth that is God’s truth.

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 Kochav Yaakov.
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