Friday, April 9, 2010

Torah Commentary (Leviticus 9)

A Torah commentary came to my inbox yesterday that I found to be so moving.   It is a rabbinic commentary about the moment when Aaron is asked by Moses to go before “God” and make sacrifices on the altar.  Rashi, the commentator, says that Aaron  hesitated because he felt shame (for having participated in constructing the Golden Calf.  He goes on to say that Moses asked Aaron, “You were chosen for this, so why do you feel shame?”  

The Baal Shem Tov, the rabbi, healer, and teacher of the 18th century, commenting on the commentary, says that it is precisely because Aaron’s spirit was broken, precisely because he could feel this imperfection and humility that he was chosen. 

The commentaries had a huge impact on me.  Why? 

First, I am so moved just to consider the awesomeness of being called to serve, to approach God.  Second, I am moved by Aaron’s hesitation, considering himself a much less than perfect instrument.  Third, I am taken by the Besht* reflecting that those of us who have “fallen” can truly serve. 

 I had been feeling keenly aware of my “brokenness,” my limitations, as I face completing my historical novel about the Baal Shem Tov.  This book feels to be a huge and sacred project—and a way to serve.  The commentary turns upside down the fear that my limitations and my “brokenness” will impede this service.  Instead, the very one whose life I am celebrating, blessed me by telling me that I, just the way I am, am precisely the one for this sacred task.  I have been chosen and have chosen.  Every day, I choose again. 

(*Besht is the acronym for Baal Shem Tov.)