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Just Do It

Cantor Adam Kahan

March 18, 2022

Remember that Nike slogan, “Just Do it?” It’s sort of an instruction to just get in action, which is also the basic takeaway from the name of this week’s Torah portion, “Tzav.” That word forms the basis of the more familiar Hebrew word “Mitzvah.” While we commonly translate that as “a good deed”, it actually literally means “a commandment.” Do it.  

That’s where I found myself recently, needing to just get in action. As the calendar turned from 2021 to 2022, I noticed that all my clothes had consistently been shrinking. That, or the pandemic experience had helped me become a more “substantial” person, with aches and pains and all the accompaniments. In past times, I have adopted an “anti-inflammation” diet. While that means I cut out a lot of yummy things, the biggest extraction from my diet was gluten-baring items….and that meant no beautiful bread. No yummy challah. No warm slices at a restaurant with salted butter. One sad cantor!

I love warm fluffy bread, and all the feelings of comfort that comes along with it. The Torah does too! In this week’s portion, we are commanded to make an offering at the altar. This is not unusual, as there are different types of offerings, or sacrifices, that we are instructed to make. We have a sin offering, a guilt offerin a burnt offering…but this week we are told to make an offering of gratitude, a “korban todah” (which auto-correct just changed to “koran today”, but that is a different theme altogether, computer. Thank you for the suggestion….I am grateful).

When we make this offering of gratitude, we are instructed to also offer a raised loaf of bread. This is unique as we often make offerings that are specifically not to be leavened. So why should we be sure to offer a raised loaf now? Well, It takes time. 

Famously, we hear about the Jews needing to eat matzoh when leaving Egypt because they had no time to let it rise. Here, on this Shabbat, we focus on how we are supposed to be grateful and make an offering that requires us to harness our available time, appreciate our available time, and have gratitude for all that we have.  

Tonight, with our Kindergarten through 2nd Grade students present, I’m going to be telling a story about gratitude, and how we can share that, and *spoiler alert* the kicker of the story is going to mention how we can make an offering of gratitude to share with our fellow citizens of the world either in Ukraine, or now refugees from Ukraine. Our beautiful temple community has already been bringing in items to give to a local family who is coordinating shipments to Ukraine every few weeks.  

On this Shabbat, while taking moments to recognize all that we have in our midst worthy of our gratitude, please share an offering that will leaven humanity overall. It won’t take much time, but it will certainly make a big difference. You can leave your donated items in the lobby of our temple’s main front entrance.

As we strive to create oneness in this world, and in the theme of Purim where we send out “Matanot Laevyonim”, or gifts to the less fortunate…we applaud your bringing our customs and practices to the betterment of the world.


Sat, July 13 2024 7 Tammuz 5784