Nobody’s PerfectMarch 13, 2014 - 5:00 am
The priest who offers it shall eat it; it is to be eaten in the sanctuary area, in the courtyard of the tent of meeting. — Leviticus 6:26
The Torah portion for this week is Tzav, which means “command,” from Leviticus 6:1–8:36, and the Haftorah is from Jeremiah 7:21–8:3; 9:22–23.
Everyone wants to be perfect – flawless, blameless, and excellent. The problem is that no one is, nor can anyone be, truly perfect. Perfection is reserved for God alone.
So while many of us make perfectionism — the quest to be perfect — a way of life, we aren’t helping ourselves. Instead, we are setting ourselves up to believe we can reach unrealistic goals, and in the long run, that makes us less productive, less resilient, and unsuccessful. As strange as it sounds, perfectionism sets us up to become perfect failures!
In the Torah portion, God gave instructions for the different types of sacrifices that were brought to the Tabernacle, and then the Temple, in biblical times. If someone inadvertently sinned, he or she brought a sin offering. The laws dictated that the meat of a sin offering was not allowed to be brought outside of the Temple premises. The priests could eat the meat, but they had to do so away from the public view, only in the Temple. In contrast, if the High Priest himself brought a sin offering, the law was completely different. In that case, the meat was brought outside the Temple and burned where everyone could see. What is the reason for this discrepancy?
The Sages explain that the rules regarding a regular sin offering were intended to protect the privacy of the one who brought it. If the meat were brought out to the public, people might ask questions and try to figure out who the sinner was and what his sin was. However, when it came to the High Priest, God wanted everyone to know exactly who the sinner was. Why? Because God wanted His people to know that no one – not even the High Priest – was perfect.
And that is perfectly alright.
The best role models are not the people to whom we can hardly relate. If their virtues seem unattainable to us, then we aren’t motivated to even try to become like them. However, when we are presented with individuals who struggle, stumble, and fail sometimes just like we do, but are still wonderful and successful, that is something we can aspire to. “If he can do it, so can I” becomes the attitude. It is empowering and encouraging.
The same principle holds when we set personal goals for ourselves. If we set the standard impossibly high, we aren’t nearly as motivated or as likely to achieve that goal. However, when we embrace our imperfections and set goals that honour our strengths as well as our weaknesses, we are well on the road to success.
Ultimately, God isn’t looking for perfection, and neither should we. Life is about becoming better – not perfect. It’s about being perfectly dedicated to becoming the best that WE can be – imperfections and all.