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Story: Parshat Vayikra, 3/27/20

03/30/2020 09:19:58 PM

Mar30

Rabbi Charlie

This week’s Torah portion begins the book of Leviticus, which is all about animal sacrifice - Korban. Even though it’s sounds strange to us now, the purpose of animal sacrifice was to "karov" or draw close to God and fill our lives with meaning. With that idea, I want to share with you one of my favorite stories from our tradition.

This is about a wise, compassionate and much loved queen. She was getting older and she knew that the day was approaching when she was going to have to pass on the responsibilities of ruling their nation. She had three children, all who were kind and were loved as much as the queen. She knew the next ruler needed both kindness and wisdom. She had to choose between them, but she just couldn’t – so she devised a test.

Off in the country she had a small home. She brought her children to this home that they knew so well and told them that one at a time each of them would have one week to fill this home with… something. Anything they desire. It just had to be filled up completely.

So the oldest daughter thought and thought. “How do you fill up a house?” And then it came to her. “I know,” she said. “Feathers! I can fill the whole house up with feathers!” She brought in loads and loads of feathers. She started in the corners and filled up every room until it was overflowing. She proudly showed her mother, the Queen, who praised her for completing the task. Then the oldest gathered up all the feathers and asked them to be made into coats for people in need.

The middle son went next. He, too, thought and thought. “How do you fill up a house?” And then it came to him. “I know,” he said. “Straw! I can fill the whole house up with straw!” And he brought in cart upon cart of straw. He started in the corners and filled up every room until it was overflowing. He proudly show hid mother, the Queen, who praised him for completing the task. Then the middle son gathered up all the straw and made it available to any farmer in need.

Finally it was time for the youngest daughter. She thought and thought. “How do you fill up a house?” And then it came to her. Inspired by her fondest memories from childhood, she asked her mother, the Queen, to join her as the sun was setting. The house looked quite empty. Then the youngest daughter took her mother around the house, lighting candles in every room. In one room, after she lit the candle, a violinist began to play. In another, after she lit the candle, a jester began to entertain a group of children.

She brought her mother, the Queen, back into the front room and said, “Mother, I love the time we get to spend in this house, so I tried to fill it with my favorite memories: I filled it with light and music and laughter.” The Queen responded, “That, my child, is the kind of wisdom needed to rule the nation.”

When we think about our homes, which might be feeling too empty or too full or too limiting right now, let’s do all we can to fill them with light and music and laughter and that which brings a sense of meaning and purpose to our lives.

Fri, October 30 2020 12 Cheshvan 5781