Shemini 5783 – Hameirah
This Shabbat I will celebrate the 20th (!!) anniversary of my bar mitzvah. I sponsored kiddush at my synagogue in Columbus, OH, I’m reading the whole Torah portion and Haftorah, and I’ll have one of my best friends in town visiting who was there in shul back on March 29th, 2003 when I read it for the first time! I won’t share with you my d’var torah from that weekend (it was about Nadav and Avihu), but as we make our way out of Passover and head towards Shavuot I wanted to share one insight about this week’s Torah portion that the rabbi’s fascinatingly point out. This week amidst lots of drama and intense events we read this verse:
וְאֵ֣ת ׀ שְׂעִ֣יר הַֽחַטָּ֗את דָּרֹ֥שׁ דָּרַ֛שׁ מֹשֶׁ֖ה וְהִנֵּ֣ה שֹׂרָ֑ף
Then Moses inquired about the goat of sin offering, and it had already been burned! (Lev. 10:16)
According to tradition, in between the words darosh darash is the exact middle of the Torah if you count all of the words. I have not counted all of the words to see if this is accurate, but we are a few Torah portions into Vayikra, the middle book of the Torah, and the first two books are longer than the last two so it seems plausible. But why do they rabbis choose to highlight this point for us? Reb Moshe Teitelbaum, who was the leader of the Satmar Hasidim, explained that even Moses, who had studied the Torah directly from God, is only halfway towards understanding the Torah. Any wise student of Torah knows that the more they learn, the more they realize they don’t know and must continue on this path of learning and growing. It’s incredible that even the Torah itself puts “seeking” at it’s very core.
Similarly, Reb Simcha Bunim of Peshischa taught about the creation of the world that even now, far after the world was created, it is still as far as we are concerned “in the beginning”. Because this particular creation is not like a typical creation that is made by the hands of an artist, where after it is made it no longer requires “a maker.” Rather, every single day and at every hour the world is in need of renewal, and should energy and a higher power cease to be put into it (God forbid), the world would return to chaos and disarray.
That’s what this song, Hameirah, is all about. Every single day we have the opportunity to experience the world anew, to be partners with God in creating newness and beauty in the world. And not only that, each day is a new opportunity to be a doresh, to be a seeker. To seek knowledge, to seek understanding, to seek justice, to seek kindness, to seek peace.
Twenty years ago at my bar mitzvah I could never have imagined my life today. Every day that has led me to this point I try to find new ways to grow, to seek, to learn, and to bring more love and kindness into the world.
What are you seeking this week?