“schmerzhafte Opfer”

Am Samstag habe ich eine Dvar Torah gehört, die mich persönlich sehr bewegt hat. Die Autorin der bewegenden Worte, Jean Meltzer, hat den Text auf Facebook veröffentlicht und ich habe die Erlaubnis erhalten, die Drasha auch in meinem Blog wiederzugeben, was ich hiermit sehr gerne mache.

Hier der Text und eine kleine Einleitung von Jean:

For those of you who missed it, here is my Dvar Torah for this week’s portion of Vayikra, presented at RRC Minyan in Jerusalem on March 20th, 2010. Feel free to pass it along!

And, if it inspires you and you have some change to share, I invite you to make a small donation to the Fischer House at http://www.fisherhouse.org/contribute/online Giving or the Soldier’s Project at http://www.thesoldiersproject.org/how-to-help/donate/

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D’var Torah – Vayikra – RRC Minyan (March 20, 2010)
by Jean Meltzer

I am staring at a war photo. Yet, there is no combat in this picture. Instead, it was taken in a studio before the wedding of Marine Sgt. Ty Ziegel and his fiancée Renee Kline on October 7th, 2006. In many ways, it is a typical wedding photo. The young bride, wearing a white wedding gown with red trim, holds a bouquet of roses while her groom, dressed in Marine blues, leans casually beside her. It should be the perfect, romanticized image of young love in a time of war.

But, it isn’t.

It takes only a few seconds to realize that Sgt. Ziegel is horribly mutilated beyond recognition. A victim of a suicide car bomb in 2004 in Iraq, he no longer has ears, or a nose, and his skin is a mismatch quilt of grafts and implants.

He is unrecognizable.

This week, my fiancé finished his tour of duty in Iraq. After fifteen months of service as a soldier in the United States Army, he’s coming home. I can’t help but compare myself to this image – the long nights of waiting and wondering are over, and my husband will soon arrive in Israel relatively unscathed.

Yet, I feel an overwhelming sense of sadness in our blessing. For every soldier who comes home to hugs and banners, one comes home in a flag draped coffin escorted by guards. For every soldier who returns to his family whole, one returns broken – wounded by physical scars that will never heal, or the psychological traumas of battle that can’t be seen. And, I think about all of them – all the soldiers, all the wives, all the husbands, all the parents, and all the children. And, I know they must ask themselves, was the sacrifice worth it?

This week’s Torah portion, the very beginning of Sefer Va-Yikra, the opening book of Leviticus, deals with the sacrificial offerings made in the Mishkan. The parashah outlines each different type of sacrifice, who brings it, and how it is carried out. And, there’s been plenty written on the “meaning of sacrifice” in Vayikra. After all, our commentators tell us that the root for sacrifice, kaf/resh/bet, also means to draw near. And so, they tell us, inherent in all sacrifice is the unconscious desire to draw nearer to God.

But, I reject this notion.

I reject the idea that there is a simple, sacred recipe to forfeit and faith. And, I refuse to tell you that sacrifice has meaning. I refuse to, and I can’t.

Because today, I am an Army Wife whose husband is coming home.

Perhaps then, the only lesson I can take from Vayikra, is this; that when the community of Israel comes together to sacrifice – they come together as a whole. They come together in support of each other’s offerings.

We cannot understand war, without understanding its result. We cannot talk about politics without remembering the 6,386 men and women to date who have given their lives to Operation Enduring Freedom in Iraq and Afghanistan. We cannot think about tzedakah and social justice and social action without remembering that in our current war, nearly 96 percent of the wounded survive, returning home with lifelong wounds and scars. The result of war, its effect on our soldiers and their families, is something we as a people, and a nation, have a responsibility to face.

The Talmud states that in the age of the Messiah, when there is no more sin and no more war, the only class of offering that will be brought to the Temple will be the Peace Offering. And the message in this is clear – God does not demand sacrifice. God demands peace. God demands that we work towards fulfilling his vision of Tikun Olam, perfecting the world, in chesed and righteousness and love.

Let us not be doomed to repeat the mistakes of our past. Let us not be blind to the sacrifices of those in our midst. Let us not be silent, but demand in righteous anger a response equivalent to the task. So, that there will be no more wars, no more casualties, and no more sacrifices.

Shabbat Shalom.

1 Comment

  1. Chajm

    Danke für die Weitergabe der Draschah.
    Ich benötige jedoch Hilfe, weil ich die Kurve nicht so recht kriege:

    Perhaps then, the only lesson I can take from Vayikra, is this; that when the community of Israel comes together to sacrifice – they come together as a whole. They come together in support of each other’s offerings.

    Es gibt ungefähr 36 verschieden Arten von Tieropfern, zusätzlich gibt es die Opferung von Vögeln, die Minchahopfer und die anderen Opferungen von Brot und Mazzot. Wenn ich das richtig sehe, sind da die Kohanim in der Verantwortung.
    Es gibt beispielsweise das Opfer Olah, dass eine Frau nach der Geburt bringen muss (ein Lamm). Das war eine Art Dauerbetrieb im Bejt haMikdasch. Jeden Tag gab es verschiedene Opfer plus die verschiedenen Zusatzopfer an besonderen Tagen (Mussaf). Wo ist da nun der Anknüpfungspunkt an

    that when the community of Israel comes together to sacrifice – they come together as a whole.

    Hier ist vielleicht ein Aspekt der Geschichte, auf die angespielt wird, verloren gegangen. Harold Kushner hat zu dieser Stelle geschrieben, es gäbe einen chassidischen Rebben der wiederum folgendes erzählt hätte: Wir betreten das Bejt haMikdasch als Individuen. Die Erfahrung die wir machen, nämlich der G-ttesdienst, lässt uns erkennen, dass wir nicht allein sind, sondern Teil eines größeren Rahmens. Diese Erfahrung lässt uns Teil der Gemeinschaft werden.

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