Shabbat Shalom with a Heart Healthy Dose of Torah – Tzav

Doctors say that one should eat a good breakfast. It stays with you and gives you the energy to burn throughout the day. While the long term impact of breakfast may vary person to person, starting each day on a “good note” works. Too often, though, even if we start the day positively, it is usually in body, only. Too many of us wake up and experience either a frenzied path through the bathroom, closet, and kitchen before heading out the doors. Too many others get so stuck in a morning routine (rut) that we don’t consider ourselves really functional until the first cup of coffee and/or the first step outside the door. We spend the vast majority of each day feeding our bodies. We work to earn a living. We exercise to keep our bodies in shape. We socialize around food and drink. We end the day planning to do it all over again the next day.

According to the text of this week’s Torah portion, every morning, the Priest will take from the grain offerings. He takes a handful and burns it on the altar and then uses the rest to bake bread for the Priests and the poor. The sages teach us that the first handful is a reminder that before we take care of our body, we have to prepare our soul. The offering on the altar is lost bread. The way in which we flounder through or “rote” our way through the morning is lost time. By offering the flour, the Priest reminds us to keep our priorities intact.

We need a spiritual awakening each morning. Jewish liturgy offers us prayers to recite every morning. One says, “Modeh ani lefanecha -Thank you, God!” I woke up! Tradition us not to take a moment for granted. No differently than that we need a good breakfast for our bodies; we need some intentional care for our neshama, our spirit or soul.

The sages teach us that just as starting our day with breakfast for the body impacts the rest of our day so does the way we start spiritually. The burnt flour is not really wasted flour; it reminds us to be prayerful moving forward. In the same sense, a moment for prayer/meditation/ intentional check-in in the morning can set the tone for a productive spiritual day.

If we start each day with mind and body in sync, we will find ourselves more productive with both. Changing our current behaviors will be challenging, but the value of any facet of living depends on the energy with which we prioritize our lives.

We have a chance during this virus quarantine to create new patterns and rethink the priorities on our daily agenda. As with everything, when we can choose between the sacred and the mundane – we choose life. Shabbat Shalom.