This week we encounter a portion that speaks, in many verses, to subject of the priests and their role. In the latter section of the portion we read chapter 23 of Leviticus, which echos chapters in Exodus, Numbers and Deuteronomy that discuss the festival calendar. The calendar begins in verse 3 with the Shabbat. The first of the festivals mentioned is that which is to be observed on the 14th day of the 1st month; Passover. The “mo’adei Adonai”, the festivals of God are fixed times.
Whenever we read sections that speak to the calendar, I often think about an idea that, I believe, is contained within the idea of “mo’adei”. Time, you see, becomes so powerful as we get a little older. When we were kids, remember, we could not wait to “grow up”. Now, we often wonder how we can slow that time clock down. I also think about the fact that time, the concept itself, may be one of mankind’s great inventions. Think about it. When did “time”, as we know and understand it begin? The only real distinction is day and night. Primitive mankind could see that. Yet, here we are in our modern life, controlled, in many ways by time. Think of the different ways we even have to refer to time in our lives: we save it, waste it, try and control it!
And as we get older, we become even more conscious of its passing. Part of that contemplation may be what “time” will be like after we die. I think that one of the hidden lessons of this portion may be another subtle reminder that time is so very precious. It is something we cannot control. We fear its passing. Thus, the lesson may be that, as the tradition teaches, we are called upon to live a life that brings the sacred into every aspect of our time here on earth. We are called to sanctify time at these fixed moments during the year. That call can only serve as a reminder that every day is really a gift and that we are, every day, called to sanctify each moment; for we do not know when our time will cease.
Rabbi Richard F Address