Thursday, March 26, 2009

For Who Knows How My Love Grows? And Who Knows Where the Time Goes? (Vayikra)

--By TruBluJu

When I was first asked to post a little wisdom for The Watering Hole this week, I responded without hesitation. “Of course,” I said. I was around when this little idea was first hatched on the third floor of our fraternity house, but I had yet to take advantage and post my thoughts. This was finally my chance. Then, much like what happens to all of us, my week began and time quickly slipped away. Unfortunately, this seems to happen to me a lot lately.

What does this have to do with the week’s parsha? To be honest, I’m still not entirely sure. All I know is that after reading for the first few lines of Vayikra, I was sparked with an idea and now you’re going to have to bear with me as I hash this out:

According to my Google search, Vayikra outlines the rules for ritual sacrifice. Apparently, Hashem spoke only to Moses and bestowed upon him the ritual sacrifice rule book. This is one of those portions that always escape me. Why do we bother to study the right and wrong way to sacrifice an animal to G-d? I’m pretty sure this is a dated practice. The only animal sacrifices we care about are the ones that will bring a delicious steak to our plate with a side of sautéed mushroom, garlic mashed potatoes, and a frosty beer.

As I started reading through the first couple lines of the parsha, dreaming about steak, I began to think of the word "sacrifice" in a different context. Just because none of us partake in ritual animal offerings anymore does not mean we are foreign to the idea of sacrifice. As young professionals with dozens of priorities, wants, and needs, we come face to face with the notion of sacrifice each and every day. The concept of sacrifice is giving something up for your well-being or the benefit of others. For some of us, it might be as simple as buying the Harris Teeter brand yogurt instead of Yoplait in order to stay within our monthly budget. For others, it might be a bit more difficult. But at the end of the day, there is one sacrifice I think we all make: time.

Remember when we were in college and would always complain about how little time we had in the day? “If only I had a few more hours in the day, I wouldn’t feel so rushed,” we said. Oh, how little we knew back then. I am not sure about you, but I would much rather have my college schedule than my current schedule. If I had only spent a less time playing basketball, watching my housemates play video games, going out on weeknights and stalking Carolina Basketball players around campus, then there would have been more than enough hours to complete my studies, extracurriculars, and the endless pursuit of, umm ... the perfect pair of pants. Since graduating college almost four years ago, I find things are no longer that simple.

Today there are not enough hours in the day for me, a busy young professional. Between work, friends, significant others, family, errands, the gym, volunteering, synagogue, etc., I feel constant pressure to sacrifice one or more in lieu of something else. It puts a lot of stress on me. I want to make everyone happy and be everywhere at once, but we all know that is impossible. Lately, I’ve felt like if I choose one thing over another, I will be letting a group of friends or colleagues down.
  • Do I go out with the guys for the first time in a month or spend my only free weekend night making dinner for my girlfriend?
  • Do I volunteer at a Habitat for Humanity site on Saturday afternoons or join a flag football team with my friends?
  • Do I go to the gym in the morning or head into work a little bit earlier to finish up a grant proposal?
If those are the most difficult choices I have to make in a day, then life could definitely be worse. But still, decisions like these are things that constantly weigh on us. We are left wondering, "How do we accomplish everything we want to and give everyone in our life equal time?"

The only answer I can give is, just like Moses, we must prioritize our sacrifices and time. Figure out the most important things to you and make those top priorities. Don’t worry about the small stuff. If you have to sacrifice the time for one of them, you can always fit it in next week. Just make sure you make enough time for your friends, loved ones, and whatever else makes you happy. Everything else will work itself out. I promise. And if I’m wrong, we’ll go to your local kosher butcher, ask the owner to sacrifice a very special cow, and I’ll treat you to a delicious steak.

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