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    Playing with fire – Tzav

    Fire is an important part of Temple worship. “The fire on the altar shall be kept burning; it shall not go out” (Lev. 6:5).

    Metaphorically, fire is essential to religion as a whole. One of my teachers told us as aspiring preachers, “If you can’t put fire in your sermon, put your sermon in the fire!”

    The same applies to every aspect of the religious life.

    The Chassidim emphasise hitlahavut, “fiery enthusiasm”, and we can all learn from them.

    Carrying out any religious activity requires life, energy, love, excitement. The moment it becomes merely perfunctory and routine it has been deprived of much of its value.

    What we need is to open ourselves to the emotion of the moment and find, as Max Kadushin suggests, that even the simplest religious act such as saying a b’rachah becomes a mystical experience of feeling in the presence of the Divine.

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