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What do you think life was like for the Kohanim before they were inducted into the service? Well, I imagine it was like everyone else's, they would hang out together, Kohanim would invite other people to their homes to eat dinner, to play games, to have fun. But now what's life like? Can they still invite people over? Well the Kohanim are given very special food to eat that no one else in the Israelite community can eat. Do they have time to hang out with others? They have service to take care of. As they enter this new relationship with G-d, as they enter this new community, it seems that they're really leaving another one.
Interestingly, the word that the verses use to describe this new special status for the Kohanim is Kadosh - holy. But holy is not the best translation of the word Kadosh, the real translation is separate. Yes, they are joining in the community, but they're also separating themselves from a previous one. It's almost as if a communal part of themselves has withered away and died, just like the Metzora. The truth is we still see this happen all the time today. Rabbis and communal leaders have constituents, they have communal responsibilities, they have people that they have to take care of. In that process, yes in a way they develop closer relationships with the community and with the people in it, but there's still a large gap. When they took that leadership role they really did, in a sense, separate themselves from that community. Yes, they still interact with the people, but they're not really friends like they used to be, not as a peer, not as an equal. While their leadership is noble and commendable, they're sacrificing a lot.
Perhaps these parallels are also highlighting what's going on with the Kohanim. Yes, they're entering into this new relationship with G-d, they're joining this new community, but we, the larger audience of the Torah shouldn't forget that they were part of our community as well. It's not easy losing out on that part of the community, it can be very, very lonely. Communal leaders experience this all the time, the Kohanim must have experienced this as well. But these parallels are making us aware of that loneliness, so we can do our best to be sensitive towards it and really include them to the best that we can in the larger community.
1. Bereishit: Thank You, God...For Not Making Me A Woman?
2. Noach: Why Aren't Dinosaurs In the Torah?
3. Lech Lecha: The Battle For Abraham's Legacy
4. Vayeira: Abram, Sarai, Hagar, Ishmael and...Exodus?
5. Vayeira: Epilogue
6. Chayei Sarah: Eliezer and Samuel's Surprising Connection
7. Vayeitzei: Understanding Rachel's World
8. Vayishlach: From Jacob to Israel
9. Vayeishev: Does God Speak To Us Today?
10. Miketz: Reversing the Sale of Joseph
11. Vayigash: Understanding Pharaoh's Dream
12. Vayechi: A Tap On The Shoulder
13. Shmot: Does God Really "Love" Us?
14. Va'era: Seeing God in Science
15. Bo: God's Justice In Action
16. Beshalach: Fruit Trees In the Sea?
17. Beshalach: Epilogue
18. Yitro: Seeing Ten Commandments in the Burning Bush
19. Mishpatim: Does Our History Become Laws?
20. Mishpatim: Epilogue
21. Terumah: Angels In the Tabernacle? Part I/2
22. Tetzaveh: Angels In the Tabernacle?- Part 2/2
23. Ki Tisa: A Closer Look At Kiddush
24. Vayakhel-Pekudei: God In Space, God In Time
25. Pekudei: A Giant Chiasm In Sefer Shmot
26. Vayikra: How Can We Relate To Sacrifices Today?
27. Tzav: A Deeper Look At The Priestly Role
28. Tzav: Epilogue
29. Shemini: What Does Aaron Teach Us About Loss?
30. Tazria-Metzora: Rejoining the Community
31. Acharei Mot-Kedoshim: Social Justice...and Sacrifices?
32. Emor: An Epic View of Jewish Holidays
33. Behar-Bechukotai: Walking With God
34. Bamidbar: Why We Count
35. Beha'alotecha: Where It All Went Wrong
36. Shelach: How Can We Relate To Such a Vengeful God?
37. Korach: Why Did Korach Rebel?
38. Chukat: Why Did Moses Hit The Rock?
39. Balak: What Is Israel's Purpose In The World?
40. Pinchas: What Is True Leadership?
41. Matot-Masei: The Art of Negotiation
42. Devarim: What Did Moses Do Wrong?- Part 1/2
43. Va'etchanan: What Did Moses Do Wrong?- Part 2/2
44. Eikev: Why Does The Nation Of Israel Merit The Land?
45. Re'eh: Why Do We Need Both Oral and Written Law?
46. Shoftim: The Significance of Saving Private Ryan
47. Ki Teitzei: How To Merit Long Life
48. Ki Tavo: The Pursuit of Happiness- Part 1
49. Nitzavim: The Pursuit of Happiness- Part 2/2
50. Vayeilech: Moses' Farewell To Israel, Part 1/3
51. Ha'azinu: Moses' Farewell To Israel, Part 2/3
52. V'Zot Habracha: Moses' Farewell To Israel, Part 3/3
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