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The meanings of sacrifice

אור אשכר ז"ל

Translation by Yehoshua Siskin

Or Eshkar passed away yesterday after he was critically wounded in a terrorist attack in Tel Aviv. He was a person known for showing unlimited kindness to everyone who crossed his path. As his mother noted with Or's passing, a precious light (the translation of Or) was extinguished.

This tragic loss occurred during the week in which we begin reading the book of Vayikra (Leviticus) in the Torah. It is preoccupied with the sacrifices brought to the Mishkan (desert sanctuary) and, later on, to the Holy Temple in Jerusalem.

Our commentators explain that the word korban (sacrifice) has multiple meanings.

Korban is associated with the word hakrava or self-sacrifice, an act of those who give up their lives fighting for a cause.

Korban is also connected to the work krav, meaning battle or struggle.

Korban also brings to mind kirvah or closeness. When we sacrifice an animal to God, we get closer to Him. By extension, when we sacrifice or give up something for the sake of someone else, we get closer to that person.

Or Ashkar, or Or ben Natalie, as we came to know his name when praying for him during his last eleven days, brought these three aspects of korban or sacrifice to our attention. He was another painful Jewish sacrifice in the war against terror. He also reminded us of the real battle between us and our enemies, representing the seemingly endless struggle of good against evil in the world. Finally, he inspired closeness and unity through our deep concern for him. Politicians of every stripe and regular people from every sector of the population joined in a moment of silence to pray for his recovery.

May it be His will that Or will be the final sacrifice, that we will be victorious in our battle with the enemy, and merit greater closeness to one another and to God.


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