The Hebrew word "avoda" (literally, "work"), used so often in this week's Torah portion to refer to the service of the High Priest on Yom Kippur also has implications for our day-to-day work. It reminds us that each Jew is a miniature Temple and that every aspect of our lives, even the unspectacular and mundane, have a holy and spiritual purpose.

Similarly, each task in the Temple was important. If so, why were the priests commanded to wear certain clothing during most of their service, but lesser clothes when they removed the ash from the altar to outside of the Temple area? (see Lev. 6:4) Rashi gives two explanations: First, so that they should not dirty their priestly garments, and second, that "The clothing with which you cook for your master, should not be the same garments worn when pouring his cup."

There are a number of Temple activities during which a priest would soil his clothing: slaughtering the offering, the passing of the blood, the throwing of the blood, etc. Why was removing the ash singled out? For this quandary, Rashi provides the second explanation. Stains accumulated by service performed in the presence of the Master are not considered dirt, but rather part of the service. On the other hand, the grime derived from preparing for eventual service (like cooking the food), and not in the Master's presence is considered filth, and thus the requirement to change clothes.

A Jew serves G‑d not only with obviously holy actions like Kiddush….

However, if the removal of the ash was so much less than the other services, why was it a requirement of the priest on duty? Why not let another less qualified priest do it? This is exactly the point. The Torah teaches us that a Jew serves G‑d not only with obviously holy actions like Kiddush or the Passover Seder, but also with all of the actions that help us get there, like taking out the garbage or cleaning the house for Pesach.

There is another important lesson here. A person might think, "Fine, I am like a priest spending my time in the Temple. What work should I be doing to change the world for the better? I can do the work that is connected to my immediate surroundings, that is usually within my scope, but to go outside is not for me; I'll leave it for others who are not on my same level." Here comes the commandment for the same priest to take the ash outside. Even though it required leaving the protection of the Temple and was so lowly as to require changing clothes, that same priest was commanded to do it. In exactly the same way, through the proper attitude and actions, we will cause the Holy One Blessed Be He to take each and every Jew by the hand out of the exile and bring us to the final redemption.

Shabbat Shalom and a Kosher and Happy Pesach, Shaul

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