Emanuel Synagogue

Contemplating each moment as important


We go through our daily routines very often not thinking about the implications or greater meaning of those particular actions or moments, more than likely because those moments are simply mundane repetitions of actions we have done countless times before.  Rituals are put in place to make sure that a particular meaningful or transformative moment does not pass without being marked in some way.  Whether they are lighting candles on Shabbat or a birthday, apples and honey on Rosh Hashanah or champagne on New Years, there are certain things that we do that transform a normal moment into a momentous one. 

The danger however is to emphasise the ritual, and not what is being transformed. A glass of champagne is just a glass, regardless if you drink it in June or December. Yet, it becomes special only when it is connected with New Years Eve. A birthday cake is just a cake unless it is on or around your birthday.

This week, in Parashat Tzav, we read about the inauguration of the Cohanim, the priests who will officiate at the Mishkan, the tabernacle which will become the place of centralised worship for the Israelites.  The Bible goes to great detail about the service, what oils to use, what garments, how many times to wash and so on.  The question then is what is so significant that requires this level of detail and pageantry?  We already knew that Aaron and his sons were going to be invested as the officiates at the Mishkan.  What then is the symbolism of this event?  Surely it must be more than to confirm something we already knew?

Perhaps, it was to confirm something a bit more subtle, yet exceedingly more complex.  The nature of our relationship with God up to that point had been one sided.  God performed miracles and we benefited.  Now, the nature of that relationship is fundamentally changing.  The covenant is being fully implemented and a two way relationship is being established.  Now, we are offering to God sacrifices and in turn we are expecting God’s presence and protection.  This fundamental change is what is being marked by the elaborate inauguration rituals, not simply a new job for Aaron and his sons.

This model also applies to the upheaval many of us are experiencing this week as we frantically are preparing for pesach. The cleaning is not just an act to rid ourselves of us hametz, but a spiritual preparation to welcome in the festival of our freedom and the inauguration of us a nation. Spring (or autumn) cleaning is just that, a physical cleansing. Pesach cleaning is so much more than that, and it gives our experience of Pesach that extra higher meaning.

I pray that we take the time to mark those moments in our lives that are meaningful and not simply let them pass by.  Whether they be joyous or mourning, take the time to contemplate each moment as important.

Shabbat Shalom, and Hag Kasher Sameach,

Rabbi Rafi Kaiserblueth


Emanuel Synagogue
7 Ocean Street
Woollahra, NSW 2025

Contact Us

p: 02 9389 6444

e: info@emanuel.org.au

Shabbat Times

Parashat Beshalach
Shabbat, January 30, 2021
17th of Sh’vat, 5781

Candle Lighting
Friday, January 29 2021  7:44PM

Motzei Shabbat 8:20PM

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