Friday, March 23, 2012

What can you do?

1 Nissan 5772 / March 23-24, 2012

This week we move into the Book of Leviticus, a significant portion of which focuses on the ancient priests and their responsibilities. In fact, Leviticus is so intensely priest-centric that contemporary biblical scholarship, which believes the Torah was written by four distinct human authors, attributes the Book of Leviticus to the quill of an ancient priest.

Early in this week’s portion, Vayikra, we learn the rules regarding sacrificial offerings. The hierarchy of offerings is made quite clear, as the Torah first speaks of the rituals associated with offering cattle, then sheep and goats, and then fowl. Due their respective monetary values, cattle were clearly superior to sheep and goats, which were clearly superior to fowl.

And yet, it is interesting to note that each of these types of animals were sacrifice-worthy, and the Torah goes into detail as to how the priest would prepare and then offer up the various animals, once they were contributed by common Israelites.

What can we learn from this?

That people are meant to contribute according to their abilities, and even if one’s contribution is underwhelming when compared with those capable of giving more, if the contribution is indeed a reflection of that individual’s ability to give, then the contribution will be both appreciated and respected.

“Contributions” today can mean various things. Given that we’re no longer in the business of sacrificing animals, Jews today are capable of contributing time, money, ideas, our hands and feet, etc. The constant is that whatever it is we have to give, we’re expected to give it.

This Shabbat, reflect on the following:

Are you contributing to the world in accordance with your abilities?

If so, how can you sustain and seek to grow your ability?

If not, what more can you do to bring your unique light into the world?

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