Eco Rabbi: Parshat Pikudei

Religious Jews read one portion of the Torah every week. These portions are divided up so that over the course of one year the community will read through the entire five books of Moses.

This weeks segment, Pikudei, describes the building of the Mishkan, the tabernacle. One of the aspects that is described is the clothing of the Kohanim, the priests. The Kohanim wore special clothing. But, not only did the clothing have to be special, but they had to be perfectly clean. Can you imagine slaughtering numerous animals a day and still keep your clothing sparkling white?

The Kohanim went through careful practice and developed techniques to stay clean. (Wouldn’t it be great if our kids could do that too?) However, still, the clothing had to be changed often.

From the discarded clothing of the priests would make wicks and light the torches… – Mishna, Tractate Sukkah 5,2

Let us be inspired from the resourcefulness of the Hebrews that they were able to be creative with their excess. They could have been rigid and burnt the clothing outright, since it is improper to use something that was holy for something that is not. But they did not. They still burnt it, as the law requires, but they cared about waste as well and got one more use out of the garments…

They brought light into the world.

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