Friday, April 30, 2010

Without a Blemish

The Torah lists several disqualifications for the kehuna, priesthood. [see Vayikra 21:17-23] Anyone with a physical deformity of any kind ( congenital or developed ), even with the proper lineage, is excluded from performing the service in the beis hamikdash. They may still eat terumah and other foods that are the exclusive province of the kohanim - but they may not perform any sacrificial duties.

Why not ?

Certainly Hashem sees past their imperfect outside to a deeper, refined inside. Further more, aren't we taught that there is nothing more whole before Hashem that a broken vessel? ( i.e. Only when one accepts his imperfections and stands in unflinching cognizance of his failings and shortcomings is one considered to be worthy of approaching G-d ) None of us are perfect - perfection is Hashem's exclusive domain - why do we discriminate against those who wear their imperfections on the outside ( as opposed to the imperfections of character that afflict the rest ) ?

This teaches us an important lesson in human nature and the service of the divine.

We aren't G-d. We don't have the vision necessary to perceive the wholeness or lack thereof by purely spiritual standards. We, therefore, must rely on the vision that Hashem created us with.

The kohain who has lived his life with a limp due to a leg injury that has healed wrong may very well be a pure and perfect servant of the creator; but he may not be MY appointed messenger. In my eyes ( limited as they are ) he is imperfect – I must heed my eyes and disqualify him. For choosing him despite his imperfection would be belittling the divine service in its entirety.

And us ? When we do a mitzvah – do we neglect a cosmetic detail with the understanding that "רחמנא ליבא בעי" ("The Merciful One desires [service from] the heart") ? Yes, our service should be more than skin deep and meaning is more important that looks – but - we shouldn't allow ourselves to compromise on the beauty of a mitzvah either – it may very well bring our service down a notch.

Hatzlacha !!