If we think about how we live our lives, most of us will come to the realization that the majority of our day is not spent on the things we value most. We work all week in order to enjoy time off on the weekend.
We spend all day making a living to provide for our families, which, in many cases, leaves us with few waking moments to actually spend time with our loved ones.
This is all the more so when it comes to our spiritualOur soul needs moments of self expression life. Most of our day is dedicated to providing for our material needs—eating, drinking, earning a living, sleeping, exercising, relaxing, etc.—which leaves us with but a few moments each day for the needs of our soul.
Our soul, too, desires to be nourished; our soul, too, needs moments of self-expression.
Our soul desires to transcend, to engage in holiness, to pray, to study Torah and to do good deeds. Yet, we spend most of our day, and most of our life, feeding the body instead of feeding the soul.
For some spiritual seekers, this is too painful an existence, and they instead pursue a life of asceticism. They seek to minimize the time spent on the needs of the body and maximize the time spent on feeding the desires of their soul. And even during the time they must attend to the needs of the body, they do so with a sense of pain, as they would prefer to focus exclusively on the soul.
Judaism, however, has a completely different outlook, resulting in a vastly different approach to life.
Judaism teaches that if we begin the day with a moment of holiness, if we offer even a small portion of our time to G‑d in the morning, then that experience will affect the rest of the day, infusing it with significance and holiness. The rest of the day, when we tend to our material activities and needs, is a continuation of the spiritual experience and is considered holy, for it is infused with the holiness of the moments we offered to G‑d.
This is the inner meaning of the description of theOnly a handful of flour is actually burned meal offering that we read about in this week’s Torah portion. When the Jew brings an offering of grain, which symbolizes all of his material needs, only a handful of the flour is actually burned on the altar. Only a few moments of our day are completely dedicated to the spiritual service of G‑d. Yet, the Torah assures us that while the rest of the flour is eaten by the priests, it is nevertheless holy, as it is considered the remainder of the offering.
The Torah tells us:
And this is the law of the meal offering: that Aaron’s sons shall bring it before the L‑rd, to the front of the altar. And he shall lift out of it in his fist, from the fine flour of the meal offering and from its oil and all the frankincense that is on the meal offering, and he shall cause its reminder to [go up in] smoke on the altar as a pleasing fragrance to the L‑rd.1
The fistful of flour represents the moments that we dedicate to G‑d. The Torah then continues to describe the leftover flour:
And Aaron and his sons shall eat whatever is left over from it. It shall be eaten as unleavened bread in a holy place; they shall eat it in the courtyard of the Tent of Meeting. It shall not be baked leavened. [As] their portion, I have given it to them from My fire offerings. It is a holy of holies, like the sin offering and like the guilt offering.2
The leftovers, the remainder of the day, is also holy. For the holiness of the morning mitzvahs—reciting the Modeh Ani, reciting the Shema, laying tefillin—spills over to the rest of the day, impacting the rest of our pursuits, reminding us that our material needs, too, serve a holy and spiritual purpose.3
Article by Menachem Feldman, CHABAD
Based on the teaching of the Rebbe, Reshimot 134.