Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Parsha Perspective

By Rabbi Yisroel Shusterman, Dean, Cheder Chabad of Monsey

Our day is comprised of a mesh of constants and variables. Getting out of bed every day: a constant. What time we get up: a variable.

We eat constantly (if only we didn't!), but what we eat varies. Most of us surf the net daily, but how long our eyes are glued to the screen depends on our level of boredom.

In Judaism, as well, we have the constants: daily prayer and study, ethical behavior, kosher, and boring speeches. And we have the variables: holidays, ceremonies, Yom Kippur, a guest speaker.

Isn't change preferable over the predictable? Can we all agree with the teenage motto, "Normal is boring"?

So who needs constants? Why don't we have a holiday every day?

Our Torah portion this week Pinchos (Bamidbor [Numbers] 25:10-30:1) discusses the various communal daily and holiday sacrifices brought in the Temple. (These were besides the personal sacrifices people brought, discussed elsewhere in the Torah).

Throughout the day, animals, flour, oil and fowl would be offered on the altar. No two days were the same; one day someone brought an atonement offering, the next day a wealthy tycoon came with a thousand animal donation, followed by a beggar who came with a meager handful of flour. Unpredictable.

Amid all the change was a pillar of stability: the Tamid sacrifice. Tamid actually means constant, and every morning the Tamid (part one) would inaugurate the Temple service, and the Tamid (part two) would wrap up the hectic day. Nothing was offered before the morning Tamid or after its evening counterpart.

We each have a Holy Temple inside of us. We each need our Tamids, our constants.

Change is great, but only within the framework of stability. There has to be certain aspects of life that are etched in stone. Your commitment to your marriage, children, ethics, G‑d, your health, the world.

Once you have stability as your bedrock, then, by all means, shake the applecart, take a vacation, do something abnormal (like calling up a friend from high school), buy an unusually beautiful pair of tefillin. Live it up.

After all, having no variables in life can lead you to count the pieces of cereal in your bowl, living as an automaton in a human laboratory. Thank G-d for the holidays.

(excerpts from Chabad.org by Rabbi Levi Avtzon )

May you have a meaningful and uplifting Shabbos!

If you would like to dedicate the weekly Parsha Perspective in honor or memory of a person or occasion, please contact Rabbi Shusterman at yshusterman@chedermonsey.org.