Portion “Tzav”, which we read this week gets us deep into the arena of sacrificial laws and the priesthood. In Chapter 6 we are reminded again that the flame of the altar shall be kept burning continually. That verse speaks to us as we get a little older, I think, because it can be seen to remind us that the “flame” of life, of growth and searching needs to be kept lit, no matter what age we may be. This was part of a weekend discussion I just had with a congregation. We were reviewing some texts that we use to create a spiritual foundation for healthy aging and reviewed the idea that our tradition nurtures the idea that the “flame” of life must never be allowed to end, until life itself ends. This “flame” on the altar of our own soul is what propels us to continue to seek new experiences, knowledge, and growth. It is the “flame” that burns even brighter for many Boomers as they seek to reinvent and revision their own lives in this third stage of life.
“Tzav” also can send another message, one that also speaks to us. Rabbi Lance Susan wrote a very interesting commentary on this portion in the latest Reform Jewish Torah study available on www.urj.org. Rabbi Sussman looked at the fact that “Tzav” speaks to the idea of it being in the middle of the Torah itself. His comment got me to thinking of the concept of moderation and that led me again to Maimonides, the great 12th century scholar/physician who reminded us that to live life fully we must live with what he called “the golden mean”. To be fully savored, life must include all aspects, moderation is the key and that if we go too far one or another direction, we miss the mark of fully experience all of life’s beauty and wonder. I think we sort of “get” this idea as we get older; that life, to be fully realized, has to take in all aspects of it. That is why Judaism rejects the acetic life or a life of total self-absorption. We are to taste the full bounty of existence in gradual steps, savoring each stage and moment. In doing so, we hope that the fire and passion for life, and all of its potential, will keep burning within us for as long as we have breath.
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.