We just finished Shir Joy Havdalah a few hours ago. I’m still humming and feeling the music in my soul, still riding the high from it and still feeling the love. Sometimes, it’s the simple things that bring unexpected joy: The music of Elton John or a soulful version of Somewhere Over the Rainbow, a smile that radiates love, harmonies, short texts of gratitude and connection.
It was once asked what the most important passage of the Torah is. Many people weighed in: One sage suggested it was the declaration of the Shema. Another sage suggested: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Another sage felt confident it must be: “….On the day that God created man, God created man in God’s image”. And then one final answer was offered, a passage from the Torah portion that we read this morning, “You shall offer one lamb in the morning and one lamb in the evening.”
If we were playing the game; one of these things doesn’t belong, it would seem that the last option would surely win. How could it be that bringing a lamb in the morning and in the evening was even in the running for the most important mitzvah in the entire Torah?
The great mystic and scholar Maharal (1525–1609) explains: This verse [about the lambs] doesn’t refer to an earthshaking event such as Creation, nor to the revolutionary concept of a single invisible God, to the (equally revolutionary) need to see beyond ourselves and to treat the ‘other’ with respect and even love. Instead, the verse chosen focuses on the concepts of consistency and constancy.
Too often, we overlook the simple things in our lives, as we await the big trips, special occasions and extraordinary experiences. Yet, sometimes, it’s the simple things; a beautiful song, a smile that radiates love, a pretty harmony, a quick expression of care, that keep us going and fill our souls. So here’s to a week of simple pleasures, small kindnesses and to elevating the mundane things we do every morning and every evening into something that feels worthy and holy.
Rabbi Dana Saroken