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What happens when leaders make mistakes?

Parashat Vayikra – Morah Jeanie has written a blog about this week’s parasha and how we can all learn from our mistakes

This week we start the third book of the Torah: in Hebrew this is called Vayikra and in English we call this book Leviticus.  In the book of Shmot (Exodus), we learned about the story of leaving Egypt and travelling in the desert. It would make sense for the story of the experience travelling in the desert to continue, but it doesn’t.  In this book nobody goes anywhere. The children of Israel stay in one place and listen and learn about the rules they need to follow in order to be a kind and caring community, a bit like all of us are doing at the moment.  

Each week we will learn one or two verses that help us to understand why these rules are important and the lessons we can learn to help us today.

This week, part of the parasha talks about what should happen when you do something wrong. It gives instructions about the sacrifices that different people, including leaders, need to bring if they did something wrong by mistake. In chapter 4 verse 22 we read:

אֲשֶׁר נָשִׂיא יֶחֱטָא וְעָשָׂה אַחַת מִכָּל־מִצְות יְהוָה אֱלֹהָיו אֲשֶׁר לֹא־תֵעָשֶׂינָה בִּשְׁגָגָה וְאָשֵׁם׃

אוֹ־הוֹדַע אֵלָיו חַטָּאתוֹ אֲשֶׁר חָטָא בָּהּ וְהֵבִיא אֶת־קָרְבָּנוֹ שְׂעִיר עִזִּים זָכָר תָּמִים׃

If it happens that a leader makes a mistake in any of the things which Adonai has commandment us not to do, and the leader realises that he has done something wrong

or if someone tells him about the mistake, then he should bring an unblemished male goat as his offering.

This means that leaders need to realise when they have made a mistake and they also need to do something about it, in this case bring a sacrifice.  

I made the first word of the verse big and bold.  See if you can read it.  It says ‘Asher’ which means ‘that’.  What t’efillah does it remind you of? Rashi, a very famous Rabbi who wrote lots of commentaries on the Torah tells us that if you add the letter ‘yud’ to the end of the word it spells ‘ashrei’ which means ‘lucky’, ‘fortunate’ or ‘happy’.  

Rashi says that because it uses the word Asher, which is very close to Ashrei, it means we should be happy or feel lucky that the rules we have apply to everyone, even our leaders!  Nobody is so important that they can ignore the rules and if everyone follows the rules we will be happy.

What do you think? You can share your ideas with me on Seesaw!

Shabbat shalom,

Morah Jeanie

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