The Torah we have inherited is not a nice, neat, easy-to-follow guidebook for how to live a good life. Rather than an instruction manual, Torah is a mirror. We gaze upon it and are forced to encounter the image that is reflected back.
By Rabbi Adina Allen Passover marks the birth of our liberation, Shavuot, its culmination. Our counting focuses our attention on the importance of the days in between. What would it mean for us to take that which we birthed in the process of liberation at Passover as seriously as the yoledet takes her tasks?
On Passover we admonish the “wicked” child for placing himself outside the experience. What he needs - what we all need - is a personal pathway in. We all require a way to read ourselves into our sacred stories.
In an era when the ancient temple no longer stands and we are no longer a religion centered around animal sacrifice, Parshat Tzav challenges us to find new ways to relate to these verses today. Within this challenge is the beauty of Torah and of Judaism.
“Holy holy holy is the Lord of hosts!” Chanting these words in the Kedushah, we stand, feet together, mimicking the angles on high. As we press up onto our toes, yearning for that Divine connection, we take on the posture of these pure, ethereal beings without physical characteristics that exist only in spirit.
Our conception of holiness often follows on this track, conjuring images of those things pure, simple, beyond the mundanity of the physical world. Our most sacred holiday is often considered to be Yom Kippur — a day on which we wear a plain white ceremonial robe known as a kittel — and which we prepare for by dunking in the mikvah, ritual bathing that requires us to peel away all outer layers (clothes, makeup, jewelry) so as to enter the waters as unadorned as the day we were born.