I think there is a lot to be said for sacrifice.
Let me explain that. I’m not saying it’s time to fire up the altar, and I don’t want to go anywhere near the political ramifications of rebuilding the Temple. I’m not even saying that sacrifice has to involve death. Not like it used to.
Rabbinic Judaism has replaced the Temple offerings with our tefillot, our prayers, which require an investment of time and effort, and if you count synagogue membership and other annual contributions, also money. Musaf is the additional prayer service that represents the additional Temple offering on Shabbat and holidays.
I think about this and I am not certain it is enough. Because nearly everything in life today requires an investment of time and effort and money. What makes our offering to G-d any different than our offering to a political cause or a social cause or a few hours of Internet shopping?
To me, it should be different. It should be special. And so when I reach Musaf and I’m contemplating the role of the Temple in our collective history, I take a moment to reflect on a different sort of sacrifice, my own “addition.”
What do I personally need to sacrifice that is standing in the way of my connection with G-d?
What obsolete defenses, inaccurate fears, faulty assumptions have cluttered my life and made it harder to reach my potential? Which of those need to “die” and make room for new life?
Lately I’ve worked on my fear of loss, my tenuous trust in the universe, my fear of not belonging, not deserving, not having the right to be.
It isn’t easy. It isn’t painless. Sometimes this blog is part of that sacrifice because there’s safety, it seems, in silence, in never bringing these things to light.
Speaking up means I have to think about it, put words to it, talk about it. Hear others’ opinions and ideas. Learn from it. Change it. Allow myself to be changed for the better.
It seems to me that is at the heart of Judaism itself.