“‘If the offering is a burnt offering from the flock, from either the sheep or the goats, you are to offer a male without defect.’” — Leviticus 1:10
The year 2018 is important for Israel and the Jewish people as we celebrate the modern State of Israel’s 70th Birthday. You can be part of this momentous milestone with Rabbi Eckstein’s 70 devotions offered now through April 19, Israel’s Independence Day. These devotions are tied to our Keys to Israel – six fundamental principles underlying God’s covenantal relationship with His chosen people and His Holy Land using the acrostic I.S.R.A.E.L.
This devotion is part of ten devotions focusing on the letter “E” for Educate — the need to arm ourselves with the truth about Israel and share that truth with others.
Several years ago, Christian blogger Veronica Partridge caused quite a stir. She wrote a controversial post that had been shared more than 100,000 times and earned her an appearance on “Good Morning America.” What was the contentious topic that brought Partridge into the spotlight? She wrote a piece about why she chose to give up wearing tight-fitting pants.
Partridge described how the conviction weighed heavily on her heart for a long time before she made her decision. After a conversation with some friends and corroboration from her husband that such tight-fitting pants were a stumbling block for most men, Partridge decided to forgo such clothing. She believed that dressing more discreetly was a way to honor her husband and God.
Now, whether we agree with Partridge’s conviction is not the point. The point is that she took a stand for God against the mostly negative feedback that she received and the widely accepted values of today’s society. But if we are truly God-centered people, we will base our behaviors on what God deems acceptable and not upon the whims of fluctuating societal norms.
In this first chapter of Leviticus, we learn about the ritual sacrifices that were brought into the Tabernacle and the Temple. Scripture lists different types of sacrifices that were brought, and the Jewish sages delve extensively into the meaning and symbolism of each type of sacrifice. One sacrifice that was brought “is a burnt offering from the flock, from either the sheep or the goats . . .”
The sages explain that these animals represented the herd instinct – the tendency to follow the crowd because everyone else is doing so. The message for us today is that we need to sacrifice our tendency to follow the flock and instead follow only God. We need to burn up the desire to conform and become inspired to inform. We need to stand up and speak the truth even if we are standing alone.
It has been said that when the herd is running toward the cliff, the one running in the opposite direction is the one that looks crazy. When we take a stand for what we know to be right, we might look crazy to others around us who have chosen to follow the crowd. However, our interest has to be in how we look in the eyes of God, not in the eyes of people.
Great men such as Abraham, Moses, and countless others became great because they were brave enough to stand alone. Know that when we stand apart for what is right, we are never really alone. We are in the company of history’s finest individuals.
Join the celebration and get the entire Keys to I.S.R.A.E.L. curriculum for free — for you, your small group, or even your church.
With prayers for shalom, peace,
Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein
Founder and President