Giving thanks in the present moment: parashat Tzav

thank-youHere’s the d’var Torah I offered at my shul yesterday for last week’s Torah portion, parashat Tzav. (Cross-posted to Velveteen Rabbi.)


We read in this week’s portion that one who offers a korban for the purpose of thanksgiving must eat that offering on the day when it is offered.

Korban: this is the Hebrew word we translate as “sacrifice.” But the root connotes not giving-up but drawing-near.

One who seeks to draw-near to God for the purpose of thanksgiving must eat that offering on the day when it is offered.

Drawing-near to God: we can understand this yearning.

Thanksgiving: we can understand that outpouring.

But what can we make of the exhortation to eat the meat of the sacrifice on the day when it is offered, and not to set any of it aside until morning?

Perhaps this comes to teach us that one who seeks to draw-near to God for the purpose of saying thank You needs to be in the moment. Give thanks for what is, right now, and experience that thanksgiving wholly. Don’t hold some of it over until tomorrow: give yourself over to thanksgiving now.

And, a corollary: trust that tomorrow there will again be blessings in your life which merit the giving of thanks.

As I say every Friday morning in meditation: focus on the breath as it comes and goes. And when your mind inevitably drifts to something in the past, or something in the future, that’s okay; it’s what minds do. Just gently notice that, and on the next exhale let it go and return to right here, right now.

Drawing-near to God in thanksgiving seems to require that same kind of mindfulness, that same cultivated ability to be in the moment and to offer thanks from this moment. There is so much to be thankful for: right here, right now.

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