D'vrei Torah by Rabbi Ellie Shemtov
Change is a process not an event
Change is hard. It’s hard because we are creatures of habit. It’s hard because sometimes the habit we need to change is one we enjoy. It’s hard because learning something new takes time and we are often impatient. But as hard as it might be, change can also afford us the opportunity to improve our lives. So, while making changes is a difficult process it is also an inevitable and natural part of life.
In the Torah these past few weeks we have observed the Israelites going through a lot of changes. Once they were slaves, now they are a free people. Once they were merely a free people, now they are a nation. Once they were only a nation, now laws have been put into place for the creation of a just nation.
These changes did not happen all at once and there were of course moments of unhappiness and even regret for taking these steps forward. But, one of the benefits of these changes is that the Israelites were brought closer to God. In last week’s portion that closeness culminated in the building of the Mishkan, a portable tabernacle in which God could dwell with the Israelites as they wandered through the desert.
In this week’s portion Tetzaveh, the Israelites’ relationship with God is again strengthened. The details for the construction of the Mishkan shift to a description of priestly vestments. This is followed by an explanation of the priests’ ordination ceremony in which each of the kohanim undergoes a massive transformation – from ordinary Israelite to priest in God’s service.
When making a change in our life we can help ourselves by taking it “one day at a time” and treating our transformation as an ongoing process. Even though the particulars of our desired changes may look different from that of the Israelites, the fundamental goals are the same – to live meaningful and just lives and to strengthen and deepen our relationship with God. Either way it’s clear that change is a process not an event.