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Tzav: The Eternal Flame
I was sick this week. Not end of the world go to the ER sick, but bad enough to get a Strep Throat test and miss work. Being sick is not fun. As much as it is a much needed opportunity to rest, even after two days basically off of my feet I felt even more exhausted. While I was in bed I slept, watched tv, got harassed by my cat, ate soup and drank lots of tea with honey. The one work assignment I knew I could get started on was this D’var. As I pulled up the text of this week’s Parshat, Tzav, on my phone (remember I was sick in bed) it felt like I was rereading what I read last week. In my sick stupor I worried I had forgotten how to read, or use the internet. Then I realized the text was just clarifying what the priests were supposed to do with sacrificed foods. As I kept reading I found something that struck a chord with me: Aish Tamid. This is a phrase which is common in our Jewish vernacular. It means eternal flame and a symbol or version of it is present in most, if not every synagogue.
So why has this idea of a continuous fire captivated me? I think it was the fact that the drive to study Torah was not going to be taken down by a viral infection. That was my eternal flame. Sick or not, I was going to get started on my d’var. With that realization I was done, and I went back to napping ready with my main point.
When bad things happen, like an illness, my identity as a Jewish person doesn’t change. That is the same thinking that pushed Esther to speak up and save the Jewish people of Persia. The Jews were in danger and she had to choose to risk her own life and save her people or stay quiet and dismiss her faith. Regardless as to if she chose to share it or not Esther would have still been Jewish. Esther is very deeply connected to her Jewish community, so willing to protect it she risks her life, that is (in my opinion) her eternal flame.
Personally, I connect most with the educational and historical aspects of Judaism, so that eternal flame manifested in my will to study even though I was sick. So what is your eternal flame? How can you bring that super important piece of Judaism out?