parashas Vayikra (Leviticus 1:1 – 5:26) 5781
The Mishkan (portable sanctuary in the wilderness) was established. All of the accoutrements, necessary for avodah (service) were in place – the outer mizbeach, where the offerings would be made in the courtyard; the inner mizbeach, where incense was offered; also, where the showbread table, and the menorah were located. These were all placed outside of the paroches (curtain) that separated from the Kadosh Kadoshim, where the Ark rested with the two golden cherubim on its cover (kaporah).
“Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of H’Shem filled the tabernacle” (Exodus 40:34, JPS 1917 Tanach). Moses was unable to enter, because of the settling of the Cloud of Glory over the Miskan (Tabernacle). Yet, H’Shem called to Moshe, from within the Sanctuary. “Then he heard the Voice speaking unto him from above the ark-cover that was upon the ark of the testimony, from between the two cherubim; and He spoke unto him.” (Numbers 7:89, JPS).
“H’Shem called unto Moses, and spoke unto him out of the tent of meeting, saying: Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them: When any man of you bringeth an offering unto H’Shem”
– Leviticus 1:1-2 , JPS 1917 Tanach
Maimonides explains that the institution of the korbanot (offerings) was necessary, because the Israelites were used to the mode of worship of the times. The difference between the offerings of the nations, and those of Israel, was that Israel’s offerings were to be made only to the One True G-d. Even so, the korbanot (offerings) were meant to be a transitional step towards the ultimate mode of avodah (worship) – prayer.
For, “it is, namely, impossible to go suddenly from one extreme to the other: it is therefore according to the nature of man impossible for him suddenly to discontinue everything to which he has been accustomed” (Maimonides, guide for the Perplexed, Part 3, Ch. 32, wikipedia.com). To have gone directly to the avodah (service) of the heart, in other words, “heartfelt prayer,” after leaving Egypt would have been an impossibility.