- Mar 15, 2017
The sacrifices of “pure” animals for the Jewish nation were meant to point forward to the perfect atoning sacrifice of Jesus for us all.Question and answer with a Rabbi on animal sacrifice:
Question: Whose dimension is that?
Answer: Well, there are higher planes of reality than our own. Spiritual realms. And beyond. There’s a whole chain of worlds working down from the plane of the infinite light until arriving at us and our little physical cosmos down here.
Q: Kabbalah stuff.
A: It’s in the Talmud, too—lots of details in tractate Chagigah about the seven heavens, etc.
Q: So, with sacrifices . . .
A: Rabbi Isaac Luria, the Arizal, explains that the sacrifices were a way of elevating the matter and vitality of this world up to a higher plane.
Q: You know, I read a story about some tzaddik who would meditate and carry his consciousness up to higher places.
A: Actually, anytime someone meditates and prays with focus, he or she is doing that, to some small degree.
Q: So we’re back to square one: Who needs the barbecue?
A: Because that elevates only the human soul. The human soul has many layers. The G‑dly. The rational. The animal within. The sacrifices in the Temple elevated those, plus a whole real animal. It touched not just the spirit, but the body as well.
Q: So the animal became holy?
A: Thereby having a general effect on all the animals in the world—plus the flour and wine that was used with it, which pulled along all the vegetable world; plus the salt and water, which pulled the inanimate realm along with it . . .
Q: Let me get this straight: you’re saying that what prayer accomplishes on a spiritual level, the sacrifices accomplished with the physical world? You’re saying that the Temple was a sort of transformer, to beam up physical stuff into the spiritual realms?
A: You’re getting it. That’s why the space of the Temple was so important. You know that there is a tradition that the place where the altar of the Temple stood, that was the place from which Adam was formed. Cain and Abel made their sacrifices there. Noah made his sacrifices there after the flood. The binding of Isaac took place there . . .
Q: So, why did they all have to use that spot? What’s so special about it?
A: It’s the spot where Jacob had his dream about the ladder and the angels going up and down. He said, “This is the gateway to heaven!”
Q: Hmmm. You mean like what we call in ’Net jargon a portal.
A: Right. Or a transformer. The interface between the physical and the spiritual. That’s what the rabbis mean when they say that when G‑d went about creating this world, the place he started from was the place of the Temple Mount. So, you’ll say, there was no space when G‑d started creating the world. But what they mean is that this is the first link from the higher worlds to this world. Thats where “above” stops and “below” begins. Heaven to Earth. And so, that’s where the transmission line between the two is situated. The portal.
Q: What happens when all this meat and wine gets up there?
A: Obviously, it’s no longer a chewy steak when it’s in a spiritual domain. But we are physical beings, so we can’t really imagine what spiritual roast beef looks like. But there are conscious beings that have no physical bodies, and they are on the receiving end of all this.
Q: You mean angels?
A: That’s what they’re called in English.
Q: I find it hard to relate to the angel thing. I know there are plenty of references to them in the Bible and rabbinical literature . . .
A: Ramban (Nachmanides) says that our souls are more closely related to the angels than to the animals. After all, human beings live principally in a world of ideas and abstractions, more so than in the visceral, tangible world.
Q: Depends who you’re speaking about, rabbi.
A: At any rate, there is no reason not to believe that there is consciousness that is not associated with a physical body. And if we would ask one of those conscious beings whether the Temple sacrifices make sense to him/her/it, it/she/he would likely exclaim that it is one of the few things human beings do that make any sense at all! And I bet they’re real peeved that it’s been stopped all these years.
Q: What do they get out of it?
A: According to the Kabbalah, returning energy.
Q: You mean, like energy bouncing back? What do they need that for? Don’t they get enough when it’s on its way down?
A: Because the energy they get is only direct energy, filtered down through many steps. We get the final, most condensed creative energy to sustain our existence in this world. But, since we are the final stop, we also have the essence of that energy. That’s something they can get only when we elevate matters of our world up to theirs.
Q: You’re telling me those angels have a real interest in our sacrifices?
A: They have a real interest in anything good we do. Any mitzvah we do elevates some aspect of the material world—perhaps not to such an extent as the sacrifices. But the sacrifices provide a paradigm to understand what all mitzvahs are really about.
Q: So are these bodiless conscious beings involved in that as well?
A: Without them, not a single mitzvah would ever get done. The Talmud says that whenever a person does a mitzvah, it is only after the Holy One sends His angels to set everything up for him to do it. And they complete the job, as well. Often, our entire input is no more than making the conscious decision that yes, I want to do this mitzvah.
Q: So really, all of our mitzvahs happen within this larger, multidimensional context.
A: Which is why so many of them are so hard to understand. Like trying to make sense of a single instrument playing its part out of a whole symphony. That’s what each of our mitzvahs is like. Because we see only the material plane.
This conclusion is too painful a one for the Rabbinic Jews to accept, therefore need for the complex rationalisations that help them to continue to miss the point!