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Home :: Prayer :: Sacrifice of Approach

Sacrifice of Approach

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Right after "Shema Yisrael", recitation of 100th psalm "Mizmor Letoda" ("Song for a thanksgiving offering" - Biblical language translation) (Tehillim 100) follows. Sages adduce comparison that gives idea about how one should recite "Mizmor Letoda": as he who counts precious coins, takes them one by one, examines being afraid to mistake - as he who prays, must check pronunciation of each word and think over their sense.

Ancient Sages teach that this world stands onto three fulcrums: Tora (that is Seven Laws studying and observation of by all Noah Descendants), Temple service (that is sacrifices performed in two Jerusalem Temples) and kind attitude towards neighbor (the entire range of definite behavioural criteria like hospitality, tenderness, benevolence, mutual aid and the like).

Those three most important spiritual powers, enumerated in the order of their significance, provide the existence of the whole universe. If we ain't to observe them, G-d wouldn't let this world exist for even an hour. This is what is meant when said "the world exists due to righteous" - due to righteous among the nations as well. And here is why.

The matter is the peoples of the world that observe Seven Laws of Noah Decendants have a significant part in each of three actions mentioned above. Tora gives them Seven Laws for careful observation and implementation. Kind attitude towards neighbor in form of, for example, hospitality (which is not Law by itself) has direct attitude to the peoples of the world proceeding from the fact how persistently forefather Avraham taught his son Ishmael about it (Bereshit 18:7). But here is a question: is there some part for people of the world in Temple sacrifice? Coz this is especially Jewish and filled with quite unique and highly sacred atmosphere element of their life.

It comes to be there is. And nothing of the kind!

Tora tells us that any representative of the peoples of the world, despite his religious convictions, could bring Ola (burnt-offering - Biblical language translation) sacrifice in Jerusalem Temple. To understand what kind of sacrifice it is, it would be enough to say that it stands first among those enumerated by Tora (Vayikra 1:1-17), while Tora enumerates them all in the order of each one's sanctity's decrease.

The very "sacrifice" name - "korban" in Biblical language - means approach, getting close to G-d.

Ola - or burnt-offering sacrifice - is voluntary offering of a single person. It was the only sacrifice among all others, that was burnt completely, with nothing to remain. Bull, lamb, goat, wild pigeon or domestic pigeon could be this sacrifice and that depended on well-being of him who sacrificed. Sacrificial animals were slaughtered to the north from external Temple altar, then they were flayed, carcass was splitted into parts, it all was salted at the ramp when bringing up to altar, and after that - it was completely burnt on fire. Sacrificial animals had to have no defect.

in case of extreme want of him who sacrificed, the animal could be changed for wheaten flour - such sacrifice was called Minha (Vayikra 2:1-13).

Ola sacrifice is mentioned in Tora earlier than all other sacrifices coz it stands higher. Its very Ola name makes hints about it, that means, firstly, it is higher than others, secondly, it all rises in fire.

The fact that Ola is completely burnt and both Kohanim (priests - Biblical language translation) and he who sacrifices can eat no piece from it (unlike for all other sacrifices) testifies its high dignity. The matter is most of other sacrifices are brought by obligation or in the capacity of expiation of some sins. That's why as for them (other secrifices), G-d commanded that part of them should be burnt and remained parts should be given to Kohanim for food. But Ola sacrifice is gift to G-d, caused by desire to purify and get closer to one's Creator. That's why it is the only sacrifice which is burnt completely. G-d treats it as a gift from a close friend, which is meant for Him only and for nobody else.

Besides, RAMBAM explains that looking at the animal been slaughtered, flayed and completely burnt on fire, made everybody feel the deepest humility and obedience. He understood that what was done to sacrifice should have been done to him indeed (anatomy of animals and humans is similar by its physical structure). Coz Heavens demand death penalty for each infringement upon even one from Seven Laws of Noah Descendants. And Midrash tells us that Temple altar's sprinkling by sacrificial burnt-offering animal's blood (it followed right away after its slaughter) was sinner blood's substitution for animal's blood.

Moreover, burnt-offering sacrifice brought by any person from the peoples of the world was accepted even if he prayed to idols. Coz it was well-known that its sacrifice elevates person so strong and so much influences his soul, body and entire further life, that later he often renounced from his false beliefs, recognized G-d's authority upon himself and accepted observation of Seven Laws of Noah Descendants established for all humanity.

Now we don't have Temple anymore. And it's not possible to become closer to our Creator with the help of burnt-offering sacrifice. However, corresponding prayers took the place of all sacrifices after Temple's destruction, as it's written: "And our lips will substitute for bulls brought as sacrifice".

It is known that burnt-offering sacrifice is substituted today with "Mizmor Letoda" - "Song for a thanksgiving offering" (Tehillim 100). Every one who recites this psalm is treated as if he who personally brought sacrificial Ola's animal to Temple yard and gave it to Kohanim.

That's why one of Lubavitcher rebbes Tzemah Tzedek so persistently recommended to all who visited him from the peoples of the world to recite this psalm each morning. According to the custom, one must stand when reciting "Mizmor Letoda". This psalm is recited everyday except for Saturday, eight Pesah days and its eve (Nissan 14-22), two Shavuot days (Sivan 6-7), two Rosh ha-Shana days (Tishrey 1-2), Yom-Kippur day and its eve (Tishrey 9-10), first two and one last Succot days (Tishrey 15-16 and 22) and Simhat-Tora (Tishrey 23) - as far as the psalm itself corresponds to burnt-offering sacrifice which was brought to Temple daily, except for days, mentioned above. One should recite this psalm with special trembling as far as its recitation substitutes for bringing of sacrifice itself. G-d treats him who recited it as if he brought Him burnt-offering sacrifice indeed. And as far as this highly-sacred sacrifice was allowed to be brought not only by Jews but by the peoples of the world as well - rebbe Tzemah Tzedek writes Bnei Noah must recite the psalm corresponding to it.

Its recitation together with acceptance and observation of Seven Laws of Noah Descendants, and together with kind attitude towards neighbor is your personal contribution not only to support of existence and prosperity of this world, but to scale's bending towards cardinal changes in the world as well. Those changes are to start when righteous Mashiach comes, may it happen soon, in our days.

Below is full text of "Mizmor Letoda" psalm in Biblical language with its English translation and transliteration of original reading.

מזמור לתודה הריעו ליהוה כל־הארץ׃ עבדו את־יהוה בשמחה באו לפניו ברננה׃ דעו כי־יהוה הוא אלהים הוא עשנו ולו אנחנו עמו וצאן מרעיתו׃ באו שעריו בתודה חצרתיו בתהלה הודו לו ברכו שמו׃ כי־טוב יהוה לעולם חסדו ועד־דר ודר אמונתו׃

Miz-mor le-to-da, ha-ri-u lA-do-nai kol ha-a-retz. Iv-du et A-do-nai be-sim-ha, bo-u le-fa-nav bir-na-na. D'u ki A-do-nai Hu E-lo-him, Hu a-sa-nu ve-Lo a-nah-nu, a-mo ve-tzon mar'i-to. Bo-u sh'a-rav be-to-da, ha-tze-ro-tav bit'hi-la, ho-du Lo, bar-chu Sh'mo. Ki tov A-do-nai, le-o-lam has-do, ve-ad dor va-dor e-mu-na-to.

Song for a thanksgiving offering, shout to the L-rd, all the earth. Serve the L-rd with joy, come before Him with praise. Know that the L-rd is G-d, He made us and we are His, His people and the flock of His pasture. Come into His gates with thanksgiving, into His courtyards with praise, give thanks to Him, bless His name. For the L-rd is good, His kindness is forever, and until generation after generation is His faith.

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