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Missed Opportunities

Friday, 29 May, 2015 - 1:00 pm

On Wednesday, we celebrated a brit milah (circumcision) in the community. Kudos to the parents who flew out a mohel from Los Angeles so their son could properly enter the Covenant of Avraham. It’s not too often we are fortunate to have a brit milah in Boise, so it’s special to participate in this mitzvah. 

It’s also special because of who shows up.

One of the unique, spiritual guests at every brit milah is Eliyahu Hanavi (Elijah the Prophet).  In fact, it is because of his presence that we do not send formal invitations to a brit milah. Rather, we make an announcement notifying people about it.  This is because we do not want to put someone in the awkward position of turning down an invitation to an event where Eliyahu will be present.  If they were invited and fail to show, it will be an insult to Eliyahu – and a lost opportunity.

***

The Nazir is someone who decides to live a holy life – at least for a period of time.  By abstaining from wine and from ritual impurity, the Nazir strives to have a deeper and closer relationship with the Almighty.

Interestingly, this week’s parsha Naso informs us that the Nazir must bring a sin offering upon completing his term. Why? How has the Nazir sinned?

The Talmud explains that he has sinned by abstaining from wine.

Yet, the Talmud also states that the Nazir is referred to as holy.

So which is it? Is he considered holy or a sinner?!

***

The shortcoming of the Nazir is not that he has actually sinned. After all, the Torah rightfully declares that he has engaged in additional piety.

Rather, the Nazir has failed by missing many opportunities.  Our life’s mission is not to avoid the challenges – opportunities – that lurk around each corner of this world.  Rather, we were placed here to elevate; to transform that matter into spirit.

While the role of the Nazir is indeed considered holy – separating himself from mundane and worldly affairs, the Torah makes it clear that it is not the standard-bearer for finding G-d.  The real place to find G-d is in our own homes, our own relationships, and in our own Kiddush cups.

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