A Tale of Perfection
Updated: Mar 21
Sefer Vayikra has begun and the family drama and nation building of Genesis and Exodus are behind us. Ahead of us in this central book of Torah are detailed ways to worship God through sacrifice.
The book of Vayikra is not shy. It enters into our skin, into our bedrooms, into our homes and into our relationships. As a religious school director for years, these Vayikra parshiyot were often the portions for children's springtime B'nai Mitzvah and families were by and large horrified at having to write about topics such as skin afflictions, nocturnal emissions and blood. I feel the opposite. Sefer Vayikra is about mining for meaning and finding golden nuggets in these chapters. We have to use our imaginations to go back in time and picture how other cultures worshiped in ancient times and we have to be absolutely thrilled that we are here still to look back at that ancient form of worship and appreciate how it has evolved to accommodate living in exile and modernity.
So, take deep breath and say a She'hecheyanu that we have reached Sefer Vayikra.
Parshat Vayikra begins by focusing on animal and grain sacrifices and how they will be processed in the Mishkan by the priests. One thing that is noted in this parsha and in the daily liturgy is the emphasis that those bulls or sheep or items that are sacrificed must be perfect, without blemish. I am certain that the rabbis have volumes to comment on what unblemished and perfect means when it comes to sacrificing animals, but here I'd like to focus for a few minutes on the idea of seeking perfection in our own lives
Many people hunt for the perfect weight, the perfect job, the perfect family, the perfect house, the perfect job. This short piece, which I hope might make you smile, is about that hunt for perfection. It is, admittedly, different than most of what I write here. I hope it adds a bit of levity to this very serious first parsha of Leviticus.
One final note, I have a second poem that I am preparing for later this week, also on this Parshat Vayikra, but on a very different topic, so watch for it.
Happy Tuesday and happy first day of spring.
וְאִם־זֶ֥בַח שְׁלָמִ֖ים רְבָּנ֑וֹ אִ֤ם מִן־הַבָּקָר֙ ה֣וּא מַקְרִ֔יב אִם־זָכָר֙ אִם־נְקֵבָ֔ה תָּמִ֥ים יַקְרִיבֶ֖נּוּ לִפְנֵ֥י יְהֹוָֽה׃
If his offering is a sacrifice of well-being— If he offers of the herd, whether a male or a female, he shall bring before the LORD one without blemish. Leviticus 3:1 (From Sefaria)
A Tale of Perfection
It’s right around the corner.
It went right...no,
maybe it was the left!
It was just here!
Just a minute ago."
"Don’t give up!
You might catch it someday!"
"What's that you say?"
"Yes, it is everything that people say it is!
it’s just perfect!
In every way!"
"What you are looking for.
You say that you searched,
almost found it and then it was gone?"
"Oh, I'm sorry that you missed it!
I know you have been looking for a while.
You've been by here before."
"What’s that you say?
You’ve been looking for how long?
Oh, I’m sorry to hear that."
"You know that Perfection…
You know, it's a little tricky.
Always just a step away.
Over the next hill."
"Well, sir, I see you’re on your way.
You’re going to keep searching?"
"Wipe the dust off your feet.
Have a sip of water, at least.
Sit a spell.
You’ve been chasing Perfection for so long,
do you even remember why you are chasing it?"
"Oh, sir, never mind, I didn’t mean to offend you!"
"Wait, where are you going?"
"What's that, did you catch a glimpse of it?
Maybe its passing shadow?
A scent in the air?
Did it leave a trail behind?
Hints of perfection
left along the road?"
"Sir, sir, please sit a while!
You must be exhausted by now.
Maybe there's a different way."
I'm so sorry to see you go."
"I hope you find it;
Perfection, that is."
"I’ll be here next time you loop back.
I’ll be waiting.
I always do.
Good luck with your search.
I hope you find what you are looking for."
"I’ll leave the lights on for you.”