Our Torah portion deals, once again, with the different laws about the sacrifices. One of the laws is: “And its libation [shall be] a quarter of a hin of wine.” (Lev. 23:13). Together, with the animal sacrifice, wine was spilled over the altar. Maimonides says that this law is strange because wine libation is one of the most well-known idolatry practices. If this is the case, then why does the Torah command us to do the same in our “monotheistic sacrifices”? Maimonides hints at a possible answer: “A man should offer to God those things that are most beloved to him. Since a person loves to take pleasure from eating meat, drinking wine and listening to melodious instruments, his sacrifice is also accompanied by meat, wine and musical instruments”. (Guide for the Perplex 3:46)
God commanded us to add wine to the sacrifices because, according to Jewish tradition, wine is something that we love and enjoy. According to the rabbis: “there is no joy unless there is meat and wine” (base on BT, Pesachim 109a). We should offer the best of what we have, not only to God, but to others, too. However, there is a difference between offering meat, or wine, or music. Many times when we give something, it means we will have less for ourselves. If we give, like in the case of an offering of meat or wine, we will have less meat or wine to eat or drink for ourselves. There is another way of giving, where we don’t lose anything, at all. This way of giving can be compared to fire, and specifically in this case, the music in the Temple. When we share fire, usually from one candle to another, we are able to add light without losing any light from the first candle. The same can be said about the music shared in the Temple. When we share music with others, we are not losing anything, or left with less music for ourselves. Instead, we are able to spread it for the enjoyment of everyone.
There are sacrifices in life that demand us to give something. There are others that demand us to share and spread. A sacrifice is a combination of giving what we love and sharing what we know.
Rabbi Uriel Romano