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The egoistic prayer - Acharei

Friday, 3 May, 2019 - 4:49 am

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A new couple was dividing the responsibilities between them: “I”, said the groom, “will decide for all the important matters: who will be the new president of Israel, if the US should invade Irak and what should be done about the famine in Africa. You will decide about the unimportant stuff: where we will live, which school our kids will attend, what we will buy etc.”

The holiest place in the Temple was the Kodesh Hakodashim (The Holies of Holies). It was so holy that no was allowed it to enter it, except for the Kohen Gadol, the High Priest, on the holiest day of the year, Yom Kippur. When he was inside, he would pray for “himself, his family and all his people”.

Yet he was the High Priest of the entire people, who had responsibility for all the Jews. How could he mix in personal requests and pray for himself? Should he not be entirely focused on the people?

The right leader is someone who cares about all the details. S/he does not neglect important values for the sake of leadership. S/he does not believe that the important work s/he does for the society and the community can replace his/her basic personal responsibilities.

All of us wear different “hats”. We are ourselves, we are workers, we are parents, we are spouses, we are sons and daughters, we are friends and we are members of our community and society. There are so many that we need to take care of, but we need to remember the correct order.

First comes our own self. We can not neglect self-care. We need to progress, to grow, to study and always improve our relationship with G-d.

Next comes our family. We need to be good children to our parents, good spouses and good parents.

Finally comes the community. We need to help those who are in need, be involved in Jewish organizations etc.

We need to remember that no role can replace another. Following the example of the High Priest, we need to take care of all three domains without it coming on the expense of another one.  

As in the prayer of the Kohen Gadol: “For ourselves, our family and all our people”.

Shabbat Shalom,


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