This week’s Parashah is Shmini. This translates to “eighth.” This is the day that Aaron and his sons are to do the work of the Sanctuary after their ordination. It brings up the question of why the eighth day? My friend and Rabbi, Rabbi Ed Feinstein, taught me that this teaches us that the “day after” a big event is the most important. “How did Yom Kippur change you?” he asked me one year. We went on to have a discussion about the event of Yom Kippur and how I can/must live differently if the event is to have had any real meaning.
I realized that without some change on “the day after,” the event had no significance other than a “feeling.” Feelings are great, they are natural and yet, feelings alone don’t change us; actions do. I believe Torah is teaching us to use the events in our lives to alter our actions, enhance them and/or change them!
Do you recognize the EVENTS of/in your life? Are you still taking the events in your life for granted?
We are taught that after seven days of joyous celebration and learning, on the eighth day, Aaron and his sons are officially installed in the Priesthood. Aaron has to bring his own offering and the offering of the people. What is the first offering? A “missing the mark” offering. I find this so important for all of us to take in. Aaron is being installed as the first High Priest (Kohain Gadol) and his first act is to offer a “missing the mark” offering. He cannot draw near to God and help others draw near to God until he acknowledges his own errors! What a concept, especially in today’s world.
When you are embarking on a promotion, new child, changing your life status, do you first take time to draw nearer to yourself, God and others by acknowledging where and how you have missed the mark?
Our Sages of old have tried to explain away the foibles of our Biblical Heroes, and I think this does a disservice. Unfortunately, this practice is alive and well today. I have witnessed the difficulty of others to admit to when they miss the mark. Unlike Aaron, too many of us continue to try and “be perfect.” We are so afraid of being weak if we admit our own “missing the mark” that we put up barriers, armor, distance, anger and hatred when someone mentions our errors. We get defensive and go on the attack. I have done this and have had this done to me. “The best defense is a good offense” is the way of the world today. This type of thinking and acting has brought more distance and destruction that defense.
How does your fear of “being found imperfect” keep you distanced from others and unable to truly feel loved?
We also learn about Kashrut in this Parashah. Kosher means “fitting and proper.” This applies to all aspects of our living. We get caught up in worrying about food so much that we become obsessed with this area, yet at the same time we don’t realize that our money has to be Kosher also! Meir Tamari teaches that there are 28 laws about Kosher food and over 100 regarding Kosher money!! We also have many more laws about Kosher living, yet we are not so concerned about these laws. We need to see Kosher as a complete system of living – doing what is fitting and proper according to each situation, not as a proscribed script.
When are you living obsessively and when are you living Kosher?
Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel says: “Indifference to the Sublime Wonder of Living is the root of sin.” I understand this in a different way this year. Indifference is also not being changed by the Events in our lives. Indifference is seeing people the same each day. Indifference is seeing yourself the same each day. Indifference is the inability to take off our mask and remove our mental make-up.
What are you still being Indifferent to?
Rabbi Mark Borovitz