I recently attended a pidyon ha-ben ceremony, a ritual for redemption of a first born son. The ceremony has ancient roots that go back to Passover. The commandment in the Torah is that, as compensation for being spared during the killing of the firstborn of Egypt—the tenth plague—the first-born of the Israelites are to be dedicated to Cod's service.
Theoretically, all first-born Jewish males must become servants to the kahanim But such large numbers were not needed, so a father pays a kahen five silver coins to redeem his son, to compensate the kahen for the servant he otherwise would have had. The ceremony has persisted even though the Temple in Jerusalem no longer stands and thus the kahanim have no need for Temple servants.
At the pidyon ha-ben ceremony that I attended, a booklet containing and explaining the ceremony was used. The booklet explains that since the main role of the kahanim—to perform the sacrifices at the Temple—no longer exists, the Jewish people have relegated that role to a historical memory. It occurred to me that this is not the only thing we have relegated, and that we as a people have a relegation problem.
Most Jews have relegated Judaism to the territory of the occasional and the special. Jewish people on the whole do feel attached to the life cycle events and the holidays: Britmilah, bar
Most Jews have relegated Judaism to the territory of the occasional and the special.
miztoah, wedding ceremony - and Rosh HaShana, Yom Kippur, Hanukkah, Passover—all of these are widely observed.
Beyond these well-known life-cycle and holiday celebrations, the majority of today's Jewish people do not practice Judaism of the everyday but instead relegate the ordinary to a minority of Jews to observe with hopes that those few will keep the tradition alive for everyone else the rest of the time when Judaism feels more "needed."
The majority of today's Jewish people do not practice the Judaism of the ordinary, the observances of everyday life: the daily prayers and blessings, the laws about food, the commandment to study Torah. Many of us do visit the sick, feed the hungry, comfort the mourner and rejoice with the bride and groom. But often we think of this as a kind or right thing to do, but not necessarily a religious/Jewish act.
I encourage all of us to re-consider how we can express ourselves Jewishly during the ordinary days of our lives, not just the special ones.
|< Prev||Next >|