When I was in the tenth grade I had to memorize each step of the sacrifices, from the slitting of the birds to the sprinkling of their blood on the altar. At the time, I found this learning experience to be quite repulsive. I wondered why the Jewish people were commanded to participate in this intricate sacrificial system in the first place. While the steps of the sacrifices listed in Parashat Vayikrah may often appear unpleasant upon first reading, I think that there is a deeper message that we can glean from their details.
Baruch Levine, a modern bible scholar, explains that the purpose of the sacrifices was to “reaffirm, and at times to repair the relationship between the worshiper and God.” In order to keep God close to them, Bnai Yisrael needed to provide an environment that was acceptable to God. The exhaustive details listed in Parashat Vayikrah contribute to the precise way in which Bnai Yisrael had opportunities to create sacred environments for God’s presence. While we no longer offer sacrifices to God, we too can take steps to create sacred environments to welcome God’s presence. From setting the Shabbat dinner table, to beginning our preparations for the holiday of Pesach, let us find ways in which we can take steps to create sacred spaces within our midst.