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Getting Carried Away

Friday, 11 February, 2011 - 1:25 pm

I'm in New York with my two oldest sons, enjoying the freezing weather.  I use the term enjoying because I am here to celebrate my brother's wedding and welcome a lovely young lady to our family.

Before I left home, my younger son said to me, "Tatty, please remember us when you are at the wedding in New York."  I gave the standard "Of course!" response, gave him a kiss and was on my way.  But afterwards I began to think about it some more.  It's easy to get caught up in the excitement and forget about my duties as a father.

***

The Kohen Gadol (High Preist) is commanded to wear a robe with bells sewn onto its hem, so that "its sound shall be heard when he enters into the Holy before G-d."  In fact, in this week's parsha of Tetzaveh, the Torah relates the consequence of failing to wear the noisemakers as capital punishment!
The commentaries are replete with explanations of the symbolism associated with the bells.  However, I've always wondered why the punishment for their absence is so severe.

***

A profound understanding of the bells is offered by the Chassidic Rebbes:
The Kohen Gadol needed to hear the sound of the bells to remind him of his true purpose.  In a place of such heightened sanctity it was natural for him to get "carried away" and "indulge" in the spiritual treats that were embodied in the tasks performed in G-d's Sanctuary.

To be sure, he was meant to get carried away - but not completely.  The Kohen Gadol served as the ultimate representative of the people. He may prefer the ecstasy of a spiritual high - a high in which the mundane requests of health and prosperity seem trivial - but his true mission was in the service of the Jewish nation.

The bells served as a reminder, a type of constant wake-up call to remember the people for whom he served.

Forgetting that connection is a fatal flaw in his mission.

It's okay to get carried away, so long as we remain tethered to our purpose.

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