Tzav: The Right Size
In Kabbalistic jargon, one's thoughts, speech and deeds are garments of the soul. Hashem makes sure that the garments are always a perfect fit...
by Rabbi Lazer Brody
Have you ever worn shoes that were not a perfect fit? The shoes that were two small gave us terrible feet pains and hampered our walking. The shoes that were too big left us with blisters and other abrasions, also slowing us down. The ones that poorly contoured our soles and insteps were agonizing to wear – we couldn't wait for the minute when we got home and threw off our shoes.
Orthopedically healthy and comfortable shoes are something we shouldn't take for granted. Whether a person is an athlete or a factory worker, good fitting shoes are necessary for peak performance.
Imagine a black-tie wedding where the groom who is wearing a tuxedo that's one size too small, its tight buttons accenting his slightly over-indulged midsection and its short sleeves making him look like a third-grader in a Purim costume. If the groom would be wearing a size too big, he'd look like beggar wearing a hand-me-down...
We all know that for a person to look his or her best, their clothes must fit properly. If we know this simple fact, Hashem surely knows it.
In Kabbalistic jargon, one's thoughts, speech and deeds are garments of the soul. Amazingly, sole and soul are plays on words. Hashem makes sure that the “spiritual shoes” always fit. We can therefore understand that every experience in life that Hashem sends us is a perfect fit for all souls. Every tribulation that Hashem gives a person is a product of precision Divine providence that fits each person perfectly and is necessary for the fulfillment of his or her mission on earth and the correction of their souls.
People ask me, sometimes decades after their weddings, how they know that their spouses are their true bashert, their intended soul-mates. I wish I were joking, but I'm not. Earlier today, a young man approached me and said that he felt like he married the wrong woman. I pity him, and even more, I feel sorry his wife, who must see a gloomy unappreciative husband walk in the door every evening.
My esteemed and beloved teacher Rav Shalom Arush says that if you stood under the chuppa with a person, the that's your mate, your bashert. Hashem makes no mistakes. And, when a person was forced to get a divorce, that's Hashem's will too. It's all part of a person's soul correction.
We should all learn from Hashem. Many of us abuse ourselves in taking on challenges that are too big for us and doom us to frustration and lack of success. Why? “The garment doesn't fit” - a person should develop an awareness of his or her strengths, weaknesses, capabilities and limitations. These are our personal “measurements”; everything we take upon ourselves should fit our size. Just as a person could badly damage himself by attempting to pick up a weight that's too heavy for him, we should not try to “pick up projects” that are too heavy for us. Some people are self-appointed psychologists, marital counselors or social workers; they get themselves into big trouble when they try to do things that they lack the training, experience and ability to do. One woman in our neighborhood is the self-appointed specialist in marriage and child education; she donates her services (interferes?) right and left, but her own home, husband and children are in shambles. The lady is wearing the wrong-sized garment...
We read in this week's Torah portion, Parshat Tzav,
"And the Cohen shall wear a linen tunic that is his size..." (Leviticus 28:30)
Superficially, this passage seems strange. Why would Hashem tell Moses to command the Cohanim to wear garments that fit him properly? Isn't it only natural that the Cohen want look his distinguished best in the performance of his sacred tasks in the Holy Temple? Why must the Torah mention this seemingly superfluous directive that the Cohen's tunic shall fit him properly?
Let's read the above passage of Torah with a different inflection: the Cohen shall wear a linen tunic that is his size – looking at the timeless, inner meaning of the Torah, this is not a directive but a statement of fact. The Torah calls us a “nation of Cohanim” (Exodus 19:6), so that its message to them is an eternal message to all of us. Hashem sends us everything in life that is just like a blouse, shirt or pair of shoes that is a perfect fit. Everything that happens to us comes from our merciful and loving Father in Heaven. This is what we must tell ourselves before rising to any challenge – Hashem doesn't give me any situation that I can't deal with. If things are seemingly insufferable or insurmountable, I must simply seek His help and strengthen myself in emuna, for the shirt surely fits.
Rabbi Lazer Brody was born in Washington, D.C. in 1949. After receiving his bachelor's degree in agriculture from the University of Maryland in 1970, he moved to Israel and joined the Israel Defense Forces regular army, and served in one of the elite special-forces units. He is a decorated combat veteran of two wars and numerous of counter-insurgence and anti-terrorist missions on both sides of Israel's borders.
Rabbi Brody is the English-language editor of Breslev Israel's highly popular English-language website at www.breslev.co.il, and the founder and director of Emuna Outreach. Between Breslov Israel and Emuna Outreach, he devotes his time to spreading emuna and particularly the teachings of Rebbe Nachman of Breslev around the globe.
"Lazer Beams," Rabbi Brody's award-winning daily web journal, has been instrumental in helping tens of thousands of people around the globe find joy and fulfillment in their lives.