Monday, March 22, 2010

Tzav: Soul Soaring Silvery to Heaven

Rashi's first comment on this week's parashah is a midrashic interpretation of the eponymous first action word tzav. Rashi explains that this words carries with it the connotation of zeal. The fact that sacrifice should continue burning through the night also carries with it the implication of the zeal of both this generation and subsequent ones.

Like many religious people, I have been zealous to varying degrees throughout my life, this month, today, this second.
At times, being religious and my love of G-d have been the only things that have sustained me. At other times, I felt that my religious practice, as meaningful as it is (and it is continuously paramount in my life) is a hindrance to other aspects of my experience. Indeed, the rigidity of mitzvah observance, even for the devoted, is sometimes referred to as the yolk of the mitzvot ol ha mitzvot for a reason--they can be quite cumbersome.

Having learned parts of the seminal text of the RaMChal, z''l, the Mesilat Yesharim(Path of the Just) I was always struck by the fact that the first middah (quality, measure, virtue) Rabbi Luzzatto discusses is that of zarizut (zeal).

I have come to understand this teaching as referring more to a willingness to do things in their proper time, than an emotional desire to do things. Although this sounds quite misnagdish coming from an avowed neo-chasid, zeal might be the ultimate manifestation of the negation of the self and non-attachment. My poem this week plays with these concepts to create a picture of zeal as doing what is proper in its proper time.

Shabbat Shalom ve chag kasher v'sameach!
--
Tzav: Soul Soaring Silvery to Heaven

I smoke body
to cinders
atop
kindling-altar--

as commanded.

No spate
could slake
this mounting miracle,

this soul
soaring silvery
to heaven.

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