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The True Meaning of the Sacrifice of Thanksgiving

Topic: Well Being | Posted:March 23, 2016

One of the things the portion Tzav discusses is what's called the sacrifice of thanksgiving. And it says in the Midrash, and also in the Talmud, that there will come a time when all of the regular sacrifices we speak of in the Torah will come to an end. Regular sacrifices will not be brought, for instance. But the sacrifice of thanksgiving, however, will be brought even after the time of Mashiach, which means that there's some secret within it that has to do with the Light of Mashiach, the Light of the Gemar HaTikun.

Rashi, the great kabbalist and commentator, brings from the Talmud that there are four people, or four categories of people, who have to offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving. These are all people who were in sarak, difficult and dangerous situations; somebody who came from trekking in the desert, somebody who came from travelling in the ocean, somebody who was in jail and set free, somebody who was sick and then healed. Those are the four people who have to bring a sacrifice of thanksgiving. And usually, it's simple: something good happens to you, you say thanks. You were saved from a dangerous situation, you were in the desert, you were on a long journey in the ocean, you were in jail, you were very sick and became healed, so you give thanks. Appreciation is always important. But there is a deeper understanding.

The kabbalists explain that the root of the word sarak comes from the word saal, which means “constriction.” What does it mean that a person is sick or a person is in a dangerous situation? We know that while the Light of the Creator never changes, the person’s experience of the Light of the Creator is now limited. So, yes, that person becomes healed for whatever reason, that person is let out of jail for whatever reason, that person made it safely out of the desert, or made it safely out of the ocean, or any difficult situation, but what the kabbalists teach is that it's not enough for that dangerous time to be over; we need to realize that the reason why the dangerous time existed is because there was a constriction of the shining of the Light of the Creator to that individual. As such, the fact that he is now at a different place doesn't fix the constriction.

Therefore, after a person goes out of a constricted time, even after the individual leaves that situation, he still has to fix the damage that was done in the time of danger, which means he needs to fix the smaller funnel of the Light of the Creator that he was experiencing at that time. And, therefore, the kabbalists teach that's the purpose in the time of the Tabernacle; the giving of thanks isn't to say, “Thank you, I went through a difficult time, and now I'm grateful that I've come through it.” No. The purpose of the appreciation is to re-open the channel that became thin, that became saal, during that time. It’s a very important understanding.

Today, we do not have that sacrifice. Sometimes we say the HaGomel, but that’s more about speaking the words of thanks and about an eternal awakening of appreciation. However, its purpose isn't to give thanks. Its purpose is to fix that saal, the restriction of the Light of the Creator that the individual experienced. Because what happens is that if a person doesn’t fix all of them, then after quite a few of them that aren't fixed, his experience and connection to the Light of the Creator is that restricted. Let's say a person, for example, went through 100 difficult times and didn't fix them, which means afterwards he did not awaken enough appreciation to open up those channels again, then his flow of the Light of the Creator is always restricted. And that's why what we want to receive on this Shabbat is a new understanding of the importance of appreciation.

Therefore, the kabbalists teach that it's not enough to just say HaGomel, because it's not the words; it's the internal appreciation. And the degree of that internal appreciation that you have is to the degree of how much you re-open the funnel that was restricted for you before. The appreciation isn't simply saying you appreciate it, but actually it is the feeling you have which opens up that channel again.

The purpose of the time of the sacrifice of thanksgiving, which is spoken about in this portion of Tzav, is not to give thanks. It's the understanding that when a person is in a difficult situation, the Light of the Creator that he experienced is a restricted channel, and the purpose of the experience of thanksgiving, the experience of appreciation, is to re-open that funnel. And therefore, the degree of appreciation the person has is to the degree that he is able to awaken that channel to be reopened for him.

This is why it is the one connection that will exist even after Mashiach comes. Because that opening of the channel, that making greater of the individual connection of the Light of the Creator, is what the Light of Mashiach, the Light of the End of the Correction is about. Therefore, in general, we have to understand that none of us has enough of the appreciation that we should have. And that is dangerous, because to whatever degree the Light of the Creator is restricted in our lives, it can only be fixed by a greater opening of appreciation. So whatever damage has been done, the only way to open up that channel is through appreciation.

Even Rav Ashlag said it, and now we can understand it on a deeper level; the only way we can have a vessel for more gifts is based on the degree of appreciation that we have. Why? Because the Light of the Creator will forever be restricted in our life to the degree that our appreciation is restricted. Because the way to fix a restricted channel is through appreciation. And the more a person can grow his or her appreciation for all he has in his life is to the degree he opens up that channel of Light in his life.

So, the understanding we want to have on this Shabbat is that the only way to fix a constricted, limited channel and allow the totality of the Light of the Creator to flow into our lives is by having greater and greater appreciation. The reason why it says these are the four types of people who have to bring the sacrifice of thanksgiving- those who were in the desert, those who were in an ocean, those who were in jail, those who were sick - is because they got to a point where they were clear that the Light of the Creator was restricted in their life. How do we fix that restriction of the Light of the Creator flowing into our lives? There is only one way: Appreciation.

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