Rachel at Velveteen Rabbi has posted an amazing poem on the subject of sacrifice – go and read.
In the commentary, she says “The English word ‘sacrifice’ suggests giving something up; the Hebrew word korban connotes something like ‘drawing-near.’ ”
I find this linguistic twist very interesting, since as a modern pagan I find that the latter connotation is actually how I think of sacrifice as well. In my religious world, sacrifices and offerings are a methodology for establishing and maintaining a relationship with the Gods – it’s a form of prayer that encodes a particular theological understanding. Our Gods, while they are spiritual beings, are still a part of the physical universe, not apart from it; and that is why, at least in my understanding of it, sacrifices and offerings are acceptable to them.
It’s not the roasting that matters,
but anticipation, and gratitude.
So that what burns bright
on the altars of our hearts
sends a pleasing odor to Adonai.