Let My People Know

"If I want to tell a joke and I don't tell it, that is a sacrifice"

The aim of every sacrifice is to create a link. 

The idea is that a link is created by a process of interchange, of giving and taking. 

The process of taking from the Lord is much easier than giving to Him, so I have to find ways to symbolize and structure the act.

The point is that in a sacrifice, I am giving up something of myself, of my property.

Fasting, for example, is a sacrifice because it has the same effect.

There is a beautiful part of the prayer book which says that because we no longer have any sacrifices in the temple I give my blood and my fat and glands by way of fasting.

This is what I call the denial.

 In a certain way, I am always in the middle of a process:

I am living, I am breathing, I am doing, I have something.

The link exists already—the bounty, the power, is being given to me at every moment.

Life is being given to me and I try to do something to make the link mutual.

There is a very important idea that is stated in many different ways: that while receiving creates a link, giving makes a deeper link—psychologically and in many other ways.

In a very broad way, every commandment is a small form of sacrifice because it contains this: at a certain point I don't do exactly what I want.

So what is sacrifice?

In a small way, if I want to tell a joke and I don't tell it, that is a sacrifice:

I don't do exactly what I want. It becomes a sacrifice when it is oriented in this way.

–Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz

From a conversation with Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz in The Strife of the Spirit.