This week's Parsha, Parshat Emor, discusses the idea of an “eye for an eye,” which at its basic level talks about compensation if one man injures another. This Parsha also includes details about some of our holy days such as Pesach, Shavuot, Sukkot, Rosh Hashanah, and Yom Kippur. We learn of a lot of sacrifices that are obligated to be brought on these days. You might be thinking, how do sacrifices, a practice of our ancestors from thousands of years ago, relate to my life here and now, in 2021? The root of the Hebrew word for sacrifice is korban, which contains the same root as the word, L’karev: to come close. This tells us that the main purpose of sacrifice was to bring the Israelites closer to G-d. People were using their holiday experience to bring themselves closer to G-d on a spiritual level.
We too have ways of bringing ourselves closer to Hashem through the performance of mitzvot, or commandments. We elevate our spirituality by helping others, such as when we donate to charity through our standup causes, or volunteer at local food shelters. We can look through a bigger lens, though, and see how our homeland is devoted on a national level towards performing mitzvot and helping mankind. Israel is often a first responder for natural disasters and sending aid to other countries. Each time Israel sends medical personnel or equipment to a country in need, it is also a tremendous Kiddush Hashem: a beautiful sanctification of G-d’s name. An organization that I learned about on a recent trip to Israel is Yad Sarah. They fulfill mitzvot by lending crutches, wheelchairs, oxygen machines and other medical equipment to those who cannot afford it. They currently have over 7,000 people donating their time and volunteering for Yad Sarah, delivering, and assisting over 750,000 residents of Israel per year. This is a nonprofit organization that is literally life changing. Every single one of their volunteers are involved in the daily offering of sacrifices. Through their selfless devotion and commitment to the well-being of others they elevate themselves spiritually to unimaginable heights.
Someone in my community recently started a similar nonprofit and has enlisted the help of several other community members. Not only is he offering a sacrifice for himself by starting this organization, but he is also helping others become closer to G-d, which is a second mitzvah. This is just one example of so many acts of Kiddush Hashem throughout our long and beautiful history. I wish you all a wonderful Shabbat and hope you will keep this idea of elevating ourselves through our actions of sacrifice as you move forward.
CVR, Avi Gordon
Read commentary on this week's Parsha from BBYO teens around the world.
All views expressed on content written for The Shofar represent the opinions and thoughts of the individual authors. The author biography represents the author at the time in which they were in BBYO.
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