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Head and Hand, Ear and Foot

02/10/2022 04:12:50 PM


Parashat Tetzaveh speaks of the process of appointing and anointing the first permanent ritual leaders of the Jewish people. Aaron and his sons will serve as the Cohanim, the priests. They will receive special training to be able to perform the rituals, even distinctive clothing to wear! 

The process by which the priests are actually inaugurated involves anointing them on their heads, and then daubing them on three places on their body- the right earlobe, right thumb, and right toe. These four locations perhaps symbolize the key attributes that any religious leader must have, including the rabbis of today.

First of all, a rabbi must have a head: the Judaic knowledge, the skills and the wisdom to be able to address all of life’s complicated ritual and personal situations. A rabbi must have discerning ears: able to truly listen to people and sometimes to perceive real concerns against the background noise of daily kvetches. The rabbi must have able hands: willing to take on the day-to-day work of the community. And finally, the rabbi’s feet must be able to walk the walk, not just talk the talk. While the Search Committee was impressed by Rabbi Zaslow’s phenomenal resume and experience and her interactions in our Zoom conversations, it is this weekend that will tell us whether or not we have indeed found our match.

It’s worth noting that it is meaningful that the limbs on the right side are the ones chosen, since our candidate must be comfortable with the way that our ritual practice leans to the right in comparison to many other Conservative congregations. As a community, we are seeking a rabbi who not only has the blessings of head, ears, hands and feet, but transcends the sum of those parts. 

I’m excited to meet Rabbi Zaslow and Matthew in person, and I hope that each of us will take advantage of the available opportunities to do so as well, extending to them the gracious hospitality for which our B’nai Torah community is famous.

Sun, July 14 2024 8 Tammuz 5784