Parashat Tetzaveh

Live To Serve

Like the priests and Levites, we must find our unique eternal flame to light the world.

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What is meant by the statement, "Judaism is a religion of deeds more than of creeds?" How do Schweitzer, L'Engle and Someone Else understand this concept?

What gifts has God given you that you have not used or developed? Isn't part of being Jewish devoting a significant part of your life to being a bearer of light in some way? Why do we often let Someone Else fulfill the mitzvah (commandment) that we have been commanded to do?

D'var Torah

The detailed descriptions of the priesthood in the Torah give us insight into the hierarchical society of our ancient ancestors. While there were groups assigned distinct tasks, i.e., the Kohanim and the Levites, in our time we can learn from this parashah that each of us must find our appointed task in the continuing chain of Jewish life.

History does in fact teach us that our people have always been committed to the doing of mitzvot. In our time, this means reflecting and then committing ourselves to Torah, learning; avodah, devotion; and g'milut chasadim, deeds of loving-kindness. In this sense we are all priests, bearers of God's light. The ner tamid (eternal flame) is not only a symbol in the sanctuary, it is also a burning flame within us that ignites our passion to repair the world.

In this time of uncertainty since 9/11/01, many of us have felt a sense of higher purpose than that of simply acquiring material possessions or achieving tranquility. We know more than ever that we have to be generous in spirit and make life not simply comfortable but meaningful. If we can capture the sense that we are all ordained to contribute to the spectrum of spiritual light and life in this world, then each day we live will no doubt be filled with hope and gratitude.

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Rabbi Robert Lennick

Rabbi Robert Lennick is the president and CEO of Religion in American Life, Stamford, CT.