Friday, February 19, 2016

And What About You? Parashat Tetzaveh

Buried in the Election news was a owerful scene this week in Mexico as Pope Francis visited the
faithful in a Western Town. The headlines were, themselves misleading, as they talked about
Francis “losing his cool”, as if that were a value itself.
For those who haven’t seen, at the gathering, as he went to great the faithful, a person grabbed
him and didn’t let go, even knocking him onto a child in a wheelchair. Francis stood up and with
some energy said to this person: “Don’t be selfish!”
One way to look at this is how the headlines do; to say, ‘how angry the pope got!’ and to expect
him to be serene in every moment. Another way would be to ask a different question: what were
the obligations of the people gathered there? This wasn’t just about meeting a celebrity; this was a
sacred gathering (for catholics). Didn’t they have an obligation to their fellows, to see beyond
their own desires, especially given the kid in the wheelchair?

This question comes up in our Torah portion as well. We read: “VE-ATTAH”: “and as for YOU”,
twice in the first five verses of the portion, Tetzaveh. The first time regarding bringing the oil for
the menorah, the second for bringing forward Aaron and his sons to serve as priests.
Presumably, this statement is directed at Moses, as the last several parshiot have, but with extra
emphasis. Nachmanides suggests that this is because Moses must play a personal role.

But we can understand God speaking to us, the readers, more directly as well. AS FOR YOU:
What are you going to do about bringing forth the oil for the lamp, and therefore bringing God’s
light in the world? What are YOU going to do to lift up leaders who bring forth God’s word, and
not just drag them down?
In other words, what are you doing beyond your own self? How are you making the bigger
picture, the greater world, better?

So…V’attah? What are you doing? How are you involved? Is it enough? May you find an answer
to God’s question. Amen. 

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