On Sacrifice 1: Why burn the best meat?

In this series on sacrifice, I’m going to try to dive into the nature of sacrifice while still staying true to my vision. That vision is to provide you with 1 piece of insight, which I’ve happened to stumble upon, every day.

So, why burn the best meat?

There is an ancient tradition which Moses commanded of the Jewish people. 5 days before the day of Passover, Moses asked that each Jewish family select a 1-year-old lamb to be slaughtered on the 5th day at twilight. 1 Lamb per family, and it had to be young, and it was to spend the week with the family prior to its sacrifice. On the day of Passover, these lambs would be slaughtered and blood would be spread over the door of the household, and it is said that if the sacrifice was sufficient, God’s wrath would pass over that home.

In the Odyssey, you will notice that Odysseus is frequently demanding that the best meat, the fatted calf, be burned in honor of the gods. Whichever god is needed, a sacrifice must be made. If it is Mars the god of War, whom you could also say is the embodiment of the most useful emotion in war, Rage, a sacrifice must be made before they can go to battle. If it is a funeral, sacrifices must be made to ensure the safe passage of the soul of the deceased.

So why do this? Why burn the best meat and send up smoke up into the sky for the gods? Why spread the blood of the lamb up above the doorway? Well, God is in the sky. Why is God in the sky? Because when you look up into the stars at night, how do you feel? I look up and I stand there thinking about how tiny I am, how I am merely a grain of sand on the largest beach ever known, what else am I to deduce is up there except the infinite? It makes me feel like a spec of dust – fleeting, insignificant, tiny, it is almost as if you’re in the presence of God, so of course, they thought God was in the sky. So they burn the best meat to send smoke up to the gods so that the gods would smell it, and come down and help them. The Jewish people would spread the blood above the doorway so that when God came down from heaven on Passover he would see it.

The principle that I’d like to extract out of this, and I think this is the principle which they operated upon, is this. The quality of your sacrifice determines your relationship with the infinite. For the Jewish people the infinite was God the Father, and for Odysseus, the infinite was a large number of individual gods, each with their own strengths. I believe that this principle holds true today, although our sacrifices have progressed away from fatted calves, they are sacrifices none the less.

Stay tuned for the next post on sacrifice… Hustle it up!

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