Tetzaveh – Exodus 27:20 – 30:10

This Torah portion is primarily about the priestly vestments, clothing, adornments and the altars.  Two things struck me particularly.  The commentaries point out that in the Torah portion Moses’ name is not mentioned at all yet the “directions” are to him.  So it is selfless and ultra present at the same time. Moses said to G-d that he would be nameless in the Torah as a result of the people sinning with the golden calf.  The ultimate selflessness, to remain nameless in the holiest of holy works.  And yet, he is in this most intimate relation with G-d in this portion, G-d providing him with the instructions required for the priests to maintain the relationship between G-d and the people.  Which directs my attention to the tzedakah question – nameless?  I think so.  We as Jews talk about tzedakah, about charitable good works, about tikkun olam, all the time.  There are those who do many good works but feel it necessary to be recognized as often and as publicly as possible.  How close to G-d does that put the person?  The good is the good but I think the desire for a “return” undermines the value of the good.  Sometimes the recognition, the price to the recipient, is too much.  There are those who do small good works but do them anonymously.  How close to G-d does that put the person?  Much closer I think.  It is much more intimate an act to do small acts of kindness and charity without hope of reward.  Not to say that there aren’t those that do great works without the need of public reward.

The other theme in this portion that struck me is that of the “everlasting” light that is supposed to burn from morning until night.  Isn’t that a contradiction in terms?  All the time versus some of the time.  I loved a commentary I read which is essentially that this contradiction is a metaphor for the contrast between the perfect and the imperfect. That it is our job to find a relationship between the divine and the human, the eternal and the temporal.  And isn’t that the meaning of our lives, the striving for a perfection that we know perfectly well is unattainable, yet we continue to strive.  And as with tzedakah, doesn’t the striving for the unattainable put is in a more intimate relationship with g-d.  And this is not the same as striving for “success”.  It is striving for the divine; the perfection of our selves.  Ironically striving to attain the perfection of our human selves is by definition to only attain a better imperfection! 

Ultimately in this portion, both themes that spoke to me are about doing the best we can not because it is asked of us, not because it will gain us material goods or rich recognition, but because it brings us closer to the divine.  They are both about improving our relationship with G-d and what is best in us; in having a more intimate relationship with G-d and with ourselves.  Shabbat Shalom.

Things I Want My Son To Know #8 ~ Don’t Marry The First Girl You….

So. Don’t marry the first girl you… kiss? There is so much to this subject. We had our first discussion about the “birds and the bees” a long time ago it seems. And since I don’t believe in such cute euphemisms, we are talking about sex here. First, remember when you have kids, don’t use cutesy words for their body parts, call them what they are and speak freely and openly to them about those parts and what they can be used for.

Now with that out of the way… I have no idea if you are yet sexually active; but I know you are something of a slow starter socially. This is not a bad thing. You are a careful person who does not take a lot of risks. But this is an arena in which it doesn’t take much to have huge consequences. So I am torn between saying, don’t be too afraid; and saying, be afraid and be careful. So second, don’t have sex until you are ready. You probably won’t know if you are ready, but listen to your heart. Sex is a pathway to your emotional life, it is never ever just sex.

Third, try not to fall too hard the first time. This is pointless advice but I will say it anyway. If you are waiting, as I suspect you may be, don’t marry the first one unless you spend a long, long time getting to know her too. You will change so much in the next 5 to 7 years as you find your way through college and to a career that it will be hard to predict what you will want in a relationship at the end of that time.

Finally, remember that sex is about caring, respect, sharing and intimacy; it is not about you, it is about you both. So, against my better judgment I say don’t be afraid; but yes be careful. Show your heart, but don’t be too quick to give it away for life.