Skip to main content

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.


Popular posts from this blog

Thought for the Day: Battling the Evil Inclination on all Fronts

Yom Kippur.  When I was growing up, there were three annual events that marked the Jewish calendar: eating matzos on Passover, lighting candles on Chanuka, and  fasting on Yom Kippur.  Major news organizations around the world report on the "surreal" and "eerie" quiet of the streets in even the most secular neighborhoods of Israel.  Yom Kippur.

As you know, I am observant of Jewish law.  Some have even called me "ultra orthodox" (not in a kind way).  Given that, I have a question.  How likely do you think that I would be tempted to eat on Yom Kippur, that most holy day of the year?  Let's make the scale zero to ten, where zero is "as likely as driving through McDonald's on Shabbos and ordering a Big Mac with extra cheese." and ten is "as likely as breathing regularly".  Take your time.  If you answered "zero"; thank you, but -- sadly and penitently -- no.  The answer is more like nine; I'd like to say lower, but i…

Thought for the Day: Using a Mitzvah Object for Non-Mitzvah Purposes

As I am -- Baruch HaShem -- getting older, I am more cognizant of the fact that I'd like to stay as healthy as possible right up the moment I leave this world.  Stuff hurting is not the problem (I am told there is an old Russian saying that once you are 40, if you wake up and nothing hurts -- you're dead), stuff not working, however, is a problem.  To that end, for several years now I commute to work by bicycle (weather permitting, 30 minutes on an elliptical machine when weather does not permit).  I recently took up some upper body weight training.  Not because I want to be governor of California, just simply to slow down loss of bone mass and extend my body's healthy span.  Simple hishtadlus.  I have an 18 month old grandson who is just the right weight for arm curls (yes... I am that weak), so I do about 10 reps when I greet him at night.  He laughs, I get my exercise; all good.  (Main problem is explaining to the older ones why zeidy can't give them the same "…

Thought for the Day: Thanking HaShem Each and Every Day for Solid Land Near Water

Each and every morning, a Jew is supposed to view himself as a new/renewed creation, ready for a new day of building his eternal self through Torah and mitzvos.  We begin the day with 16 brachos to praise/thank/acknowledge HaShem for giving us all the tools we need to succeed.  We have a body, soul, and intellect.  We have vision, mobility, and protection from the elements.  Among those brachos, we have one that perhaps seems a bit out of place: רוקע הארץ על המים/Who spreads out the land on/over the water.  After all, it's nice to have a dry place to walk, but does that compare to the gratitude I have for a working body and vision?  As it turns out, I should; as explained by the R' Rajchenbach, rosh kollel of Kollel Zichron Eliyahu (aka, Peterson Park Kollel).  Your best bet is to listen to the shiur; very distant second is to continue, which I hope will whet your appetite for the real thing.

First... since we have dry land, I don't have to slog to work through even a foot…