The parashah for this week is Tzav from Leviticus 6:1-8:36. It deals with the conclusion of the extensive instructions about sacrifices that began in Leviticus 1:2 and the priests’ ordination. The interesting part about the sacrifices is that this was the only religion at this time that explained how everything was done and allowed it to be public knowledge. In other religions, the ritual secrets were only known by a few who were invested. After the destruction of Jerusalem’s Temple, the rabbis replaced the sacrificial system in two ways. The first being that one can commune with G-d through prayer and study and the other is through the preparation of food. This was women’s expertise, and they were ritual specialists. The Temple sacrifices were transformed into the domestic area which women were able to control. “The table upon which we eat is like the alter of the Temple” (The Torah: A Women’s Commentary, page 610).
However, during this passage I found that ordination is the one which I could apply to our current time in the WRJ world. Some detailed instructions for the ordination of the priests appeared in Exodus 28, but this passage describes the execution of the ceremony. In the Torah, Moses is the officiant of the ceremony and he calls forward Aaron and his sons to be ordained. Aaron receives a tunic, a sash, a robe, a breastplate, and a headdress. Also, Aaron is anointed with oil using an explicit procedure.
During the Fried Leadership Conference, we welcomed and installed our new WRJ President, Susan Bass, the Executive Committee, and our Board of Directors. It is not an ordination, but a ceremony that transfers our leadership to others to help lead us into the future. Special ceremonial objects were used during it to show the importance of the position. Susan received a gavel and a WRJ President’s pin which acknowledges the trust and importance she will have for our organization. The Executive Committee (Aaron’s son) have importance too. They will be asked to give advice and aid Susan in being successful during her term in office. Also, the Board of Directors will support, execute, and encourage the path of growth for WRJ.
Ordinations, investitures, and ceremonies are important to our Jewish legacy. They give importance to our leaders and shows them that their position creates a special trust between them and us. We look to them to maintain the existence and our survival in our ever-changing world. Sometimes we might look to them to know when they need to create a new path for us to follow. They are our leaders of WRJ and we wish them a successful term. Thank you for dedicating your time and energies to the causes we hold dear and to Women of Reform Judaism.
Sandi Firsel is a former member of the WRJ Board. She has served on the audacious hospitality committee and resolutions committee. She is a member of Temple Chai Sisterhood in Long Grove, Illinois.