There is much to think about with this portion. We begin the Book of Leviticus and with it we are immersed in legal though and ritual practice. Indeed, we immediately confront a series of rules and regulations and rituals surrounding various sacrifices and offerings. There has been much written about these sacrifices and what it means to sacrifice in today’s world. There really is no parallel between Leviticus and our modern world for whom a sacrifice, for many, would be going without their cell phone for a day! And we have looked at this as well in previous comments.
I want to just ask you to think about this idea of the “call”. God calls to Moses. Can you just let yourself think about this idea of being “called”? I mean, we receive many “calls” during our life: a partner, children, work, play , hobbies, friends; all kind of contact us in a different way and become important at different stages of life. We are seeing so many Boomer, now leaving full time work, being “called” to live a life that they may have desired but, due to a variety of circumstances, could not live. Encore careers, new relationships, the reinvention of life itself.
Let me however offer another point of view. I discuss this a lot on weekends with congregations and in seminars on aging and spirituality. I think tha there is a time in each of our lives–if we are open to it–when something inside of us changes; and we stop being focused on the acquisition of material things and turn to seek a sense of the gathering of a spiritual sense of self. I suggest that this happens to each of us, assuming we are given the gift of time, and that this represents one of the great turning points in life. This is when we sense that we are being “called” to focus on greater truths than just the material and temporal. This is about legacy and what our place will be in the great journey of life itself. This is about trying to understand a way that something of us will remain after out physical self has ended. This is the real call of the spirit. It comes differently to different people and at no set time. Sometimes, for some, that call is too overwhelming, perhaps frightening, and thus it is repressed. This call is part of our own understanding of our own mortality and thus, it can shake us to the core of our being.
Interestingly, how we choose (or not) to answer that call really can shape how we live our last few chapters of life. Maybe the verses dedicated to the offerings and sacrifices that populate this portion are really a symbolic of a call to offer our own self back to the world, to work for a greater good and to see out own self in a larger context. The offering of our own soul to our world our family and our faith is a “call” that deserves to be answered.
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.