Train to Handle Problems Before They Arise
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Parsha [Passage of Scripture] Nugget [Precious Idea] Emor – Leviticus 21:1-24:23
Practicing to Defeat G-d’s Plan?
Angles and dangles constitute one of the more bizarre exercises onboard a Navy ship. At first, they applied to a submarine’s seaworthiness, tested by diving and surfacing at 30-degree angles. A surface ship maneuvers through high-speed turns until the deck leans over close to the point of capsizing. All crewmembers not working the ship stay in their bunks to avoid injury.
On its face, putting a ship in such danger as training seems crazy. What if the quartermaster (the sailor who steers the ship) makes a mistake and capsizes it? But the crew needs to gain experience conning the ship. Better to get it under controlled circumstances than in the eye of a hurricane.
Practicing allows the crew to face hazards with confidence. The more they feel in control, the better they’ll perform. So it may sound contradictory that the Talmud says sailors are pious. Most acknowledge the Almighty controls events.
Compassion: Nature or Nurtured?
As the seminal act of creating, having a child joins us to G-d. Producing a new life comes as close to a Divine act as anything we’ll ever do. But, birth is only the beginning. We see in Parsha Emor:
“…G-d’s festivals that you will appoint as holy assemblies…” (Vayikra/Leviticus 23:2)
This Sabbath’s parsha details the standards of purity for a Kohen who serves in the Temple. Then it gives the requirements of an animal for the sacrificial service. The various festivals are proclaimed. It discusses the pure olive oil for the menorah and loaves of bread, known as the showbread, for the table. The parsha ends with the story of a man who blasphemed.
When our children turn five we send them to school. We adjust from controlling their development to sharing that responsibility. Now teachers, principals, and their fellow students have a hand in whom they become. Yet we keep authority to direct their lives.
The Almighty created human beings to have as partners in fulfilling creation. Making us responsible for determining when festivals begin did more than putting us in charge of the calendar. He gave us partial control over time.
Two days before Passover is a regular day. The day before has a medium level of sanctity. Passover itself is a sacred time. When we set the calendar we help fill the world with holiness. G-d wants us to bring the spirituality of heaven to earth. Like teachers helping us fulfill our aspirations for our children. When we develop holiness, we fulfill the Almighty’s aspirations for the world.
Executing this vital task takes practice. Sailors train to conquer hurricanes – physical challenges in this world. Greater competence moves them closer to the Creator. The same applies to the mental and spiritual challenges we face.
The Almighty sends emotional tempests so we can practice overcoming them. Recognize that as you gain greater skill in the physical ∞ mental ∞ spiritual realms, you also move closer to G-d. Use this as motivation to keep pursuing your goal.
How do you train for emotional and spiritual resilience?
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Every year beginning on Simchas Torah, the cycle of reading the Torah, the first five books of the Bible, ends and begins again. Each Sabbath a portion known as a sedra or parsha is read. Its name comes from the first significant word or two with which this weekly reading begins.
Do you have a question about the Old Testament? Ask it here and I will answer it in a future Parsha Nugget!