Any Jew who thinks that the Torah is a bunch of Laws about serving G-d, and that someone who doesn’t believe in G-d has no business being observant, has completely and totally missed the point as to what the Torah is, and why the Jews have preserved and protected its study and statutes from the time of Mt. Sinai. Jewish law shows a human being how to live life in this world to its fullest, and helps him be the best person he can be. Jewish law also includes the keys to reaching one’s potential and success in both material as well as emotional matters, and how to be a balanced individual. Who does not want to be perceived as good, balanced, successful and positive? Only those who have been given distorted ideals, like the famous stories of generations of criminal activity in a family line. These are very rare amongst the Jews. An individual thief—yes. An unlikely mobster—yes. To teach that to one’s children?! “G-d forbid!!” each one of them would answer.
The Torah teaches us about proper character traits, respect for the human race, respect for the world around us, and using these things towards our ultimate goal—to be thankful for the good bestowed upon us. Whether or not one “believes” in G-d, does not change the unbelievable guidelines that Jewish law gives for reaching one’s potential, and appreciating the good inherent in the world. The natural outcome, when one examines life and its purpose through the eyes of the Torah laws, would most definitely be a belief in a Higher Power. That is a very humbling thought.
The High Priest in the Beis Hamikdash (The ancient Holy Jewish Temple that stood in the vast area behind what is known as the Western Wall in Jerusalem) was the epitome of who a Jew should be. The Cohanim (the family line of Priesthood for service in the Temple) were chosen through their ancestry from their forefather Aharon, the brother of Moshe Rabenu. What were his redeeming qualities? A lover of His people, a peacemaker par excellence. Where are the power, the military strength, and the charisma of a leader? Not with Aharon HaKohen. His power was the sign of humility, of inner strength, of inner restraint, of pleasant social skills. Every one of his descendants was to retain these traits, up to this very day.
The clothing of the High Priest was symbolic of these traits in their every stitch. Although they exuded royalty and power, they were full of symbols that reminded the Jews of their great calling: as a nation of humble, respectful, caring and spiritual human beings. The robes of light blue color, the linen, the bells, even the neckline all had significance, and spiritual meaning beyond just wearing a fancy vestment. Through working on ourselves to become beings with higher ideals, instead of being slaves to our needs and desires, a person reaches his ultimate purpose in this world. In the Temple, any human being could come and be a part of the service, and have his sins atoned for. They did not have to leave their own culture or religion, they did not have to convert to Judaism. As long as they followed the basic laws of morality that were ascribed to them (The Seven Noahide Laws), they were free to join the ultimate spiritual goals of the Jewish people. And so it still is, to this very day.
THIS WEEK: Our children need to see adults in their lives who are respectful, moral, role models in order for them to be able to follow suit. Refraining from gossiping, is being respectful of other people’s privacy. Refraining from sarcasm and making threats, is a form of humility. Using pleasant speech and kind smiles is the precedent to bring peace into the world. Let us begin now...