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Emor 2022: Thoughts and Actions

05/13/2022 11:23:47 AM


Rabbi Ben Goldberg

This week’s Torah portion, Emor, contains, among other things, various sacrificial laws.

We read: “When you sacrifice a thanksgiving offering to the LORD, sacrifice it so that it may be acceptable in your favor (lirtzonkhem)” (Leviticus 22:29). What is the function of the word ratzon (will, desire, favor) in this verse?

Initially, this may have indicated that the thanksgiving offering specifically was optional, not mandatory, which is one meaning of that word.

Rashi, however, offers two explanations that point in the same direction.

The sacrifice must be offered in a way that is favorable to the Divine, specifically through the next verse’s instruction that it be eaten that same day and, Rashi adds, slaughtered with that intent.

Similarly, this word also means that the sacrifice must be made with intent and not performed accidentally or haphazardly.

This teaching invites us to consider the interplay between thoughts and actions, which are deeply intertwined.

In recent years, techniques like mindfulness meditation and cognitive behavioral therapy have become more widespread, helping people to observe their thoughts and thought process and then to act in a more deliberate, intentional manner.

In general, Rashi here reminds us that our thoughts matter, not only our actions.

The same thing done with different intentions can have a different spiritual and practical impact.

This week, let us try to become more attentive to our thoughts and how they then manifest in our actions.

Mon, March 20 2023 27 Adar 5783