Sunday, March 24, 2013
TBE Bar/Bat Mitzvah Commentary: Aaron Patashnik on Tzav
You might have guessed from my name that I come from Jewish royalty. Yes, I am a Kohen. Of course you would have known that from my name…. No, not Patashnik, as that is Russian slang for a cosmonaut who was cut off from the cord in space and drifted off. I’m talking about my first name-Aaron, who was the head priest all those years ago.
Being a Cohen has many privileges – like having the first aliyah and….and…. actually … well… that’s about it. But it also teaches many lessons – including some found in my portion.
For instance, the cohen not only performs the sacrifices, but later on, the next morning, after the sacrifices are completed, he is the one who disposes of the ashes. In other words, the most important guy in the nation is the one whose job it is to take out the garbage. Now that’s not something you see the Queen of England do all the time. But it teaches an important lesson about humility. Not only did he take out the garbage, but he put on ordinary clothes before doing it. As the commentary in our humash states, “This ensures that he never forgets his link to the ordinary people who spend their days in mundane” activities.
Humility is something I’ve had to learn as well. As most of you know, I am very humble – I am more humble then any of you could even dream of being. It is one of my best qualities.
But seriously… I’ve also learned humility from my sport interests. In baseball, I’ll gladly bunt or hit behind the runner for the good of my team. In basketball, I take as much pride – maybe even more - in a timely assist as I do in a torrent of three pointers. It’s the little things that win games, like blocking out for rebounds or tipping a pass or good sportsmanship, like picking up a teammate - or even an opponent when they are down, literally or figuratively.
Let’s go back to the cohen’s clothing for a minute. When he wasn’t taking out the garbage, the fashions he wore weren’t intended to express humility, but instead the power of ritual. I can relate to that as well. For me, designing my own my tallit was something very important. I’m going to be wearing it for the rest of my life. It has the Cohen blessing on it and a pattern that I picked and of course, purple, as it is my favorite color. It turns out that one of the colors worn by the ancient cohanim was – you guessed it… green! No, purple!
I’ve always loved purple, even though I never liked Barney… Purple is one color that can be dark or light, exciting or soothing, all in one color. Sort of like a person. Maybe it’s sort of like me. People have many different emotions, and purple expresses them all – the coolness of blue combined with the fire of red.
My mitzvah project has also helped me to learn some lessons in humility. I’m collecting donations to raise money towards the Israeli Sports Center for the disabled. The Center helps men and women of all ages to participate in over 20 sports, and have had participants in the Paralympics. If you want to know more about this absolutely amazing organization, you can follow the link to the website that is in my Bar Mitzvah booklet, after Shabbat is over, of course.