Yesterday morning was the once a month gathering of my nascent community, Minyan Oneg Shabbat. At first I had a twinge of dissappointment, as we had "only" 12 people who attended, the smallest turnout since our November start. But as our morning of devotional prayer progressed, it proved the adage "sometimes less is more" in a most powerful way that I could ever have imagined. Being so few in number allowed us all the opportunity to gather around the sefer Torah as it was chanted. Since Parshat Vayikra begins the description of the sacrifices commanded of the wandering nation, after the reading my chevra and I took the opportunity to unpack the meaning of sacrifice as we understand it.
Laurie, an oncology nurse, shared the following - she told us that when a doctor needs to remove cancerous growth from the body of a patient, that s/he refers to it as a sacrifice, and communicates as such to the patient. In other words, the patient sacrifices/gives up something - i.e. a breast, or part of a stomach - for the sake of a larger purpose. In this case for the sake of life itself.
In silence we stood together, with the Torah as witness, digesting the full impact of this.
Never could we have imagined that the expression "less is more" and the reading of the sacrificial rites would have intersected in such a profound and humbling manner.
Mark Novak is a "free-range" rabbi who lives in Washington DC and works, well, just about everywhere. In 2012 he founded Minyan Oneg Shabbat, home to MOSH (Minyan Oneg Shabbat), MindfulMOSH (Jewish mindfulness gathering), and