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Thought for the Day: Risk of Excision and Consecration Value Go Hand in Hand

Whether or not you like the Dilbert comic strip, you'll probably appreciate at least this joke.  The pointy haired boss announces two new programs for the employees: (1) a dignity enhancement program for employees, and (2) mandatory drug testing initiative.  Alice notes, "The clue meter is reading zero."  (I've been in meetings like that, by the way...)

As I mentioned, I have passed that age where I need to worry that I have done something so awful that HaShem has simply given up on me.  That's good, right?  (I know it's grasping for straws to be excited to know that I have not sunk so low as to be considered irredeemable evil... but any port in a storm, as they say.)  On the other hand, my consecration value (Vayikra 27:3,7) just plummeted from 50 to 15 silver shekels; a 70% loss!  A woman, by the way also suffers a loss in value; but only 68%.  You may think that's not much difference, but Rashi says that is the source for the common saying: An older lady at home is a treasure; an older man at home is a quagmire.  The older lady (and a younger lady, btw) always has a lower consecration value than a man of the same age; yet she is called a treasure and he a quagmire.  Moreover, at 10$/shekel exchange rate, that's $500.00 down to $150.00; so we're not talking about a lot of money.  Clearly this "consecration value" is not about my value as a human being.

The difference, it seems to me, is related to our different roles in the world.  Yes, I know that suggesting there are gender roles is quite politically incorrect.  Not only does that not bother me, it is an more of a proof for me that the idea of gender roles is, in fact, correct.  We pray every morning that we should not be brought into any situation that will test nor tempt us.  We say that prayer fervently, even though we also know that there can be no spiritual growth without tests -- and we know with completely clarity that our only reason for being in this world is for spiritual growth!  Isn't that itself a contradiction?

Not at all.  There is such a thing as combat pay.  I soldier assigned to active combat duty gets more money.  No soldier in his right mind wants to be thrust into battle.  On the other hand, the soldier trains day an night specifically to be ready at any moment to engage in battle.  What do we do with the most seasoned, experienced, and successful soldiers?  We promote them to generals... who never get sent into active combat.  First of all, generals are much to important to risk losing on the battlefield.  But there is a much more important reason not to send them there: they would lose perspective.  A person who is dodging sniper fire cannot concentrate on the bigger issues that affect the ultimate course of the war.

The central focus of Jewish life is the home.  The Jewish woman is the general who is navigating the big, overarching issues of life.  Someone, though, has to actually engage in those battles that win the war.  The man is out doing that.  These are not physical, but spiritual, battles.  The man, from 20 to 60, gets (so to speak) combat pay.  As we get older, the spiritual battles get easier; mostly because our passions are cooling off so we are less tempted.  Tempted we are, of course, but our increase in experience and decrease in passion work together to make things a bit easier.  Enough so, a man goes from 50 points to 15 points worth of value.

I praise HaShem every morning for "not making me a woman."  I'd love to be able to stand up and say, "See what a great job I am doing as a man!"... regrettably, I cannot; because I am not doing such a great job.  The best I can do is acknowledge that HaShem has enough faith in me to believe I won't really mess things up.  He also gave me a wife who keeps the home intact and makes sure that I move in the right direction and don't get distracted by spiritual sniper fire.

The woman, of course, praises HaShem for "making her according to His Will."  We all have the goal to fulfill HaShem's Will; the Jewish woman can actually stand in front of her Creator and claim some measure of success.

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