This week’s portion, “Titzavah”, continues the theme of last week’s section in that we discuss the “Mishakan” and find ourselves dealing with the ordination of priests, specifically Aaron and his children. The introduction of the Aaronide priesthood may be reflective of the time in Israel’s history when the Priesthood held sway over the life and times of the people, especially within the context of the Temple cult. There is a section that struck me as we encountered the text. It dealt with the placing on Aaron of his official clothing. Many commentaries have been written about the role of clothes and such, but within this section we read the description of the ephod (vest) which contained a variety of stones and objects.
In Exodus 28:12 we read: “attach the two stones to the shoulder pieces of the ephod, as stones for remembrance of the Israelite people, whose names Aaron shall carry upon his two shoulder pieces for remembrance before the Lord.” We are told that this may stand for a reminder that Aaron represented the community as well as God. Now we understand that in today’s world clergy do have that dual role in that they represent their community as well as Jewish tradition.
But look also at the verse which reminds us that Aaron carries with him the “names”. Let us think that part of the role of all of us, as a “kingdom of priests” is to carry with us the history of our people as we move forward in life. In other words, I think we can also see this passage as a reminder that what we do with our life also carries with it the reminders of the past and the seeds of the future. We remember our past by choosing to create a future that brings honor to them. This is also our legacy, this is what we leave behind for the next generation. It is, in a way, the embodiment of “lador va’dor”(from generation to generation).
This has special meaning for Boomers. Recent events may have made us question again where we are as a society and what kind of future are we leaving to our children and grandchildren. Please consider that we can interpret this verse to again spur us to action, reminding us that mere words of concerns are not enough to impact or effect change. Each of us carry the “stones for remembrance” within our souls. How we remember and how we wish to be remembered rest again, in our hands. Choose life!
Rabbi Richard F Address
Rabbi Richard F. Address, D.Min, is the Founder and Director of www.jewishsacredaging.com. Rabbi Address served for over three decades on staff of the Union for Reform Judaism; first as a Regional Director and then, beginning in 1997, as Founder and Director of the URJ’s Department of Jewish Family Concerns and served as a specialist and consultant for the North American Reform Movement in the areas of family related programming. Rabbi Address was ordained from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in 1972 and began his rabbinic career in Los Angeles congregations. He also served as a part time rabbi for Beth Hillel in Carmel, NJ while regional director and, after his URJ tenure, served as senior rabbi of Congregation M’kor Shalom in Cherry Hill, NJ from 2011-2014.