Question of the Week:
I know this sounds petty but I can't stand making lunches for my kids. Every night I am just about to fall into bed exhausted, and just then I remember that I need to make sandwiches. I still do it, but I can't say I do it with love. I guess I feel that much of my life is taken up with mundane things like packing lunchboxes. Must I resign to that fact that my life has boiled down to making tuna sandwiches?
Making tuna sandwiches is far from mundane. It is a holy activity. With every lunchbox you pack you are performing a sacred duty, one that dates back to the times of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem.
In ancient Israel, the Temple in Jerusalem was the focus of Jewish spiritual life. It was the home of G-d in which the cohanim, the priests, and their assistants the Levites brought sacrifices, burnt incense and spent their days meditating and singing to G-d.
This priestly tribe lived a life completely dedicated to spirituality. They did not have jobs, did not own property, but rather devoted themselves to studying G-d's laws and singing His praises. They represented the entire Jewish people before G-d, and through their service they brought down divine blessing for the entire world. To do this, they had to be well educated in matters of the spirit and totally focused on their mission.
But they had to eat. You can't study and pray for the world all day on an empty stomach. And so the rest of the Israelite nation would provide the material needs of the priestly tribe. People would bring offerings of food and donations of money to the Temple to support the cohanim. It was a reciprocal relationship. In return for the holy service the cohanim provided, their every need was looked after, and they were free to completely focus on their spiritual tasks without having to worry about paying the bills or doing the shopping. The priests brought G-d's blessing to the people. The people brought them lunch.
Today we no longer have the Holy Temple, and so we do not have the service of the cohanim to bring us blessing. But we have a substitute - our precious children. They are our holy priests, innocent and pure souls who go to school every day, say their prayers and study the Torah without a worry in the world. When children sing their songs and learn the Hebrew letters, their voices reach the highest heavens, just as the service of the cohanim in the Temple used to do in the days of old. And when G-d hears their voices, so pure and sweet, He showers us with blessings and love.
But if children are the priests serving G-d, parents are the supporters providing their needs. When you make tuna sandwiches, you are ensuring that your little cohen will have the sustenance he needs to do his work. When you stretch yourself to pay the school fees and ensure your child has an authentic Jewish education, you are donating toward the upkeep of the Temple, the safe and pure sanctuary in which your child's soul can thrive. And when you give up on luxuries and personal ambitions to be able to support your child's education, you have brought a true sacrifice on G-d's altar.
So next time you mash the mayonnaise into the tuna and wrap up the sandwiches for your holy little priests, remember that you are fulfilling a sacred task, providing their needs so they can learn carefree. As much as you are giving them, they are giving you back far more.