This week’s Torah portion is, in part, about taking out the trash. Granted, it isn’t just any trash, it is the ashes that remain on the altar after a day’s worth of burnt offerings. The priest responsible for taking out the trash was dressed in their regular holy garments to be worn only when working in the confines of the sacrificial cult. Their garments included: breeches, tunic, sash and headdress. Lest we think that these were not floor length garments, this week’s portion assures us that the tunic is to cover the feet. Imagine the ashy mess!
And I haven’t even gotten to the complicated part yet. Every morning a priest had to remove the ash from the altar. This was usually done in some pile on the side. However, every once in a while this pile got too big and the priest had to take it outside of the camp. No big deal you think? Wrong! This involves a complete costume change. The priestly outfit is only for the confines of the Temple and not for ordinary activities like rubbish removal Imagine if we had to change our clothes every time we took out the garbage or walked down the hall to the garbage shoot?
Now you might be thinking, why do I care about any of this? Well my friend, the answer is, because it is what we do all the time. We are constantly transitioning between the sacred and mundane whether or not we realize it. As a rabbi, I like to think that I am a little bit more clued into this happening and can help others do the same. Take, for example, this blog. Do you realize that by surfing the net or facebook or linking through the tweet that I posted something new you in fact performed a mitzvah? That’s right, studying Torah is a mitzvah and you might have learned something new. We moved from the mundane to the sacred. (And if you changed your clothes please don’t tell me).
See, maybe there is a point to that mindless web searching!