Monday, April 22, 2013

Go On and Drift Your Life Away (John Barlow & Bob Weir - "Lost Sailor")

Every morning and every evening for the pastn7 -10 days, our family has been glued to the news coming out of Boston. First we watched as two bombs exploded near the finish line of the Boston Marathon. We watched as people were rushed to safety. We watched as the citizens and first responders rushed to help those who were wounded. We watched regular people shared their experiences with national newscasters. Each day my children would wake up and ask what was going on in Boston? Did the police find the bad guys yet? Then our children woke up to find out that one was killed in a gun fight. Heading in Shabbat last week, our children kept asking if they caught the other suspect. Now each and every day, my children ask me why anyone would do such a thing. When they watch the news with us, and they listen to words such as “radicalize” or “radical Islam” or “militant”, they ask me “What kind of religion, tells its people to kill others? All of our children remind me that what these terrorist did and what terrorist do, in general, cannot be “in the name of God” but rather is Chillul Hashem (an abomination to God.)!” I smile and I tell them that unfortunately, the history of human beings has killed many human beings in the name of God. As they watch and hear about the numerous acts of selflessness and heroism, our children also understand something equally as important. Within the horror of such an event, there were numerous moments of people engaging in a Kiddush Hashem – sanctifying God. They were rushing people to the hospital, saving lives, and caring for those in need.
This week we read from Parsha Emor. The four chapters that comprise Parsha Emor focus on the various aspects of Perfection. First the Torah focuses upon the importance of the physical and spiritual perfection and purity of the Kohen. He must remain in a perpetual state of purity. He is restricted in terms of whom he can marry. He is restricted in regards for whom he can mourn. He cannot go to a cemetery. He cannot make sacrificial offerings if he has physical abnormalities. The second of the four chapters reminds B’nai Yisroel that when approaching God with an offering, the individual must be spiritually pure and perfect and so must the offering. These offerings must come directly from the individual making them and not from “the hand of a stranger” (Lev.22:25). The third chapter of the Parsha deals with the perfection and the purity of time. Time is define as perfect in the season follow an order, the holidays such as Shabbat, Pesach, Shavuot, Sukkot, Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are designated to come in a particular order. That order is both pure and perfect since time and the designation of “Sacred” time comes from God. The fourth chapter speaks about maintaining purity and the perfection of physical space in this case the Mishkan, and all that is in the Mishkan. The Torah even deals with perfection and purity of human relationships and the punishments meted out when that perfection, purity and holiness is violated.
After we learn about the laws of the Kohanim, blemished animals and Terumah, but before we are reminded of the sanctity of the Festivals, God issues a command that seems somewhat out of place. V’Lo T’Chalelu et Shem Kodshi V’Nikdashti B’Toch B’nai Yisroel,–“You shall not desecrate my holy Name, rather I should be sanctified among the Children of Israel…” Rambam explains that within this one sentence are two commands, one positive and one negative. The positive command is V’Nikdashti B’Toch Bnai Yisroel – “I will be hallowed (sanctified) among the children of Israel.” The negative command is Lo TChalelu – “Don’t profane or desecrate my holy name.” How can human being really sanctify or desecrate God? 
The answer is of course we do no such thing. We can only sanctify and desecrated in the name of God. Even more ironic is that in one sentence we see that desecration and sanctification can occur in the same sentence, in the same breath, on the same day, in the same race and in the same spot. In one small area, a crime was committed “in the name of God”. In that same small area, numerous acts of sanctifying life occurred and in doing so we all witnessed numerous acts of Kiddush Hashem, sanctifying God’s name. That Pasuk embodies the essence of Torah and Judaism as well as a serving as a reminder for the world. We sanctify God name by living life, by preserving life, and saving life and creating life. After all, God is the God of Creation, the God of life. We desecrate God name by destroying life and God’s creation. Yet the power to desecrate or sanctify resides within each and every one of us.  
Rav Yitz

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