“The LORD spoke to Moses saying: Command Aaron and his sons thus.” (Leviticus 6:1-6:2) Parsaha Tzav begins with a familiar call of G-d speaking directly to Moshe and not engaging in his relationship with Israelite people. The majority of the parsha continues in this manner. Each verse, comes together to lay out an instruction manual more or less for the kohanim, high priests. These mitzvot describe the relationship between the leaders and the rest of the community. The relationship is often deeply rooted in the ritual dependence the people have on the high priests. Inaccessibility often faces the Israelite people, so the priests perform sacrifices on their behalf.
Animal sacrifice, brunt offerings, purity, all foreign concepts to not just students on campus, but all of us as Jews of modernity. However, what college students, and campus professionals can relate to, is the fact that none of us is sustained alone. From running from one class to another, to projects, papers and assignments filling every spare moment of students’ time, life on campus is busy to say the least. Likewise for professionals on campus, running from one meeting to the next, and doing what we love, connecting Jewishly with every student imaginable, sometimes leaves little extra time. And I’m constantly checking in with students, asking how I can help. Although I never envy them when students often relay their weeks of three exams, a paper and a presentation, my mind drifts to memories of my college days.
So students and professionals: remember to lean on each other when needed. You can’t do everything all the time. Just as the kohanim and supported the community, the Israelites in return provided for the koahnim in ways they couldn’t provide for themselves.
Ashley Barrett is the program and engagement associate for Hillel at Washington University in St. Louis.