Vayikra

“He shall remove the entire tail from above the advice [kidneys]”
~ Leviticus 3:9

The book of Leviticus deals with the sacrifices offered in the Temple, in all their gory details.

Clearly the verse refers to “kidneys” – so why write the word “advice”?

Because kidneys perform an essential function, their location is buried beneath the ribcage, concealed by other organs and enclosed by layers of thick fat, tough membranes and lymph-nodes. So too our innermost thoughts and deepest desires are hidden from our conscious mind.

Beware, much of what ‘advises’ you is totally invisible.

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Vayakeil-Pekudei

“God has proclaimed by name, Betzalel, son of Uri, son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah.”
~ Exodus 35:1

Thirteen-year-old Betzalel was chosen to supervise the Tabernacle’s construction.

Formal Jewish names typically add just the parent, so why trace Betzalel’s genealogy back three generations and include his tribe?

Because both Betzalel’s grandfather and his tribe achieved greatness through self-sacrifice: Hur died trying to stop the Golden Calf; and Judah walked into the sea neck-high until it split. Continuing the family-tradition, Betzalel’s sublime wisdom was a result of self-sacrifice.

Greatness only shines through when we get out of the way.

Ki Sisa

“They arose early the next day and offered sacrifices. The people sat to eat and drink, and they got up to make merry.”
~ Exodus 32:6

Just seven weeks after the Exodus and a mere forty days after the Sinai-experience, the Golden Calf was built.

After such a high, how did they fall so low, so fast?

True intentions are exposed in what’s done at the end of a process, so the answer lies in their “making merry”. The Hebrew word for this – “לְצַחֵק” – usually refers to sexual immorality. The idol-worship it seems was just a smokescreen.

To improve, don’t adjust the act, correct your intentions.

Tetzvaeh

“The altar shall be holy of holies; whatever touches the altar shall become holy.”
~ Exodus 29:37

While all the Temple’s vessels were invested with holiness, the altar’s level was so powerful that even other things became holy by merely touching it.

Why was it so unique?

The altar was where man connected with the Divine through an act of giving. By offering his own animals there, man both gave of himself and he gave to God. God in return gave atonement.

If you seek to be more impactful – don’t be more aggressive – just be more giving.

Terumah

terumah-600-400

“Hammered-out shall the Menorah be made.”
~ Exodus 25:31

Arguably Judaism’s most recognised symbol, the Menorah expresses our mission to shine light into a dark world.

None of the other Temple-vessels needed a description of their manufacturing process, so why specify that the Menorah must be “hammered-out”?

Because the Menorah represents wisdom and spiritual growth, which are only attained through effort and even pain.

The growth we seek emerges from the ‘hammering’ we experience from life’s challenges. It’s not pleasant while we’re taking it, but the result is beautiful.