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Perfection?

Friday, 7 October, 2016 - 3:52 pm

They say that the closest to perfection a person ever comes is when he fills out a job application.

Yet, in many ways, the Torah declares that at least one person reached perfection.

In this week’s parsha, Vayelech, Moshe – on the last day of his life - declares, “Today I am one hundred and twenty years old.” The Talmud teaches that the emphasis of “Today,” is due to the fact that it was Moshe’s birthday. On the very day he was born (the 7th of Adar), he also passed away.

The fact that Moses died on his birthday indicates that the years of his life were all full; even his last year of life was not left unfinished. The sages teach us that this means that Moses lived his life to its fullest, not wasting any time or leaving undone any part of the task with which he was charged. This, they say, is the hallmark of a truly righteous person.

So, in a sense, Moshe achieved perfection.

But, why is the apex of Moshe’s accomplishments expressed in the years he lived?

An exploration of the Hebrew word for year, שנה (Shana), can help us. Interestingly, this word is related to the Hebrew word for change, שינוי (Shinui), and repetition, שנון (Shinun). The kabbalists explain that the cycle of a year, specifically, represents true equilibrium. It is the unit of time that contains the complete rotation of change. This is clear from the repetition of the different seasons.

To achieve true balance and spiritual advancement we need to marry both change and repetition.  If we can focus on our sacred tasks and goals – to the degree that we continue to embrace and act upon them under all conditions – we have become a miniature Moshe.

We may not be perfect. But we can model perfect behavior.

As we approach the holiday of forgiveness, it might be time to look in the mirror. We may not see perfection. But if we are ready to integrate a dose of perfection into our lives, we can stand proudly before G-d on Yom Kippur and humbly ask for forgiveness.

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