The portion of Vayikra discusses the process of bringing sacrifices in the Mishkan, or the Tabernacle. Kabbalistically, we always want to understand the spiritual significance of things; as such, since today there is no physical act of sacrifice, it is important that we understand the consciousness that was meant to be awakened through it.
"More than the calf wants to drink the milk, the cow wants to give the milk to its calf."
The great kabbalist the Maharal offers a beautiful and powerful understanding of the concept of sacrifices. In his book, Gevurot Hashem, chapter 69, he says that there is always a deep connection between the cause and the effect, the Creator and Its creations, such that there is a greater desire from the creator to give to its creation than the creation has the Desire to Receive; for example, my father, Rav Berg, would often quote that more than the calf wants to drink the milk, the cow wants to give the milk to its calf.
Most of us understand the Mishkan to be the place the Israelites built where the Light of the Creator could come and rest with them. However, the Maharal explains that the process of creating the Tabernacle was an expression of the Creator’s desire to be with us, which is a new view of it. The Maharal tells us the Mishkan originated with the Creator's desire to be with us, Its creations, and to shine Its Light and blessings down on us, and said, “Please create a place in which I can do that."
Understanding this, we learn that the Tabernacle was actually an expression of the Light of the Creator's desire to be ever connected and flowing to Its creations. And the concept of sacrifice, the Maharal explains, is the need for the creation, being us, to come back to a connection to our Creator.
"There is nothing that exists that is not of the Light of the Creator."
So, the act of sacrifice was about reconnecting the effect, us, to our cause, the Light. Its purpose was to reconnect the creation to the Creator. It is not about a physical act, but about a consciousness that we are totally one with our Creator, and that we have no existence without the Light. The concept of sacrifice was for the individual to be doing an action that manifests this consciousness that we are never separate from the Light. While the Israelites thought the sacrifice was about the action itself, in reality, it was a spiritual meditation that was meant to bring about a change in consciousness. There is nothing that exists that is not of the Light of the Creator, and that constant thought process, that constant meditation on this reality, was the entire purpose of the sacrifice.
The Maharal teaches us that the act of bringing a sacrifice was meant as an internal and spiritual process for the individual. Therefore, on the Shabbat of Vayikra, we can go through this process, too. We can gain the clarity that nothing we are and nothing we have is separate from the Light of the Creator. And while this is already a concept we have somewhere in our minds, if we actually lived it, it could transform our lives and we would be able to create miracles and have joy in every moment.
The practice of bringing sacrifice had the purpose of awakening the consciousness and clarity that the Light of the Creator desires for us to return to our Source, and that everything we do, like bringing a sacrifice, is all part of the process of our clarifying and reinforcing that consciousness. The lie of this physical world is that there is the Light of the Creator, and there are things that are separate, or can be separated, from the Light of the Creator. And if we in any way see things this way, then we are seeing an illusion. Yet, on Shabbat Vayikra, we have the opportunity to break away from that illusion and awaken the desire and consciousness to always bring everything – and most importantly, ourselves - back to the clarity that nothing exists separate from the Creator, and through that consciousness, be able to connect completely with the Light.