The Archeology of You

Think of an archeologist with a sieve in hand. She sorts through piles of debris and detritus. Through the sieve falls the dirt. Treasures hidden in the earth are captured in the mesh. And that sieve is a metaphor for Judaism!

Schmutz fills our lives. Ill feelings like anger, jealousy, and greed clog our brains. Through the filter of Judaism, we shake ourselves down to the essential good-naturedness.

The steps are simple with Torah as our instruction manual to operate the sieve. Scoop yourself onto the wire mesh.  Apply 3,500 years of principles for a good life.  Shake.

Enmeshed in Torah and distilled in Parshat Kedoshim are rules for refined living – “holinesses.” Do you take time off from work for Shabbat? Do you revere your parents, both in life and in memory? Are your sexual urges controlled to honor other people?

The challenge for us is not the sieve but embarking on the mission. Do we have the passion of an Indiana Jones to find the treasures of our souls? Or are we content to leave buried the artifacts of a pure soul?

To unearth our finest selves, we understand the purpose of the Torah’s holiness code. The observance is not for the sake of observance and ritual is not for the sake of ritual. Otherwise, we are merely sifting through dirt. Shabbat offers a time for reflection. Honoring parents is a foundation for finding dignity in all relationships. Controlling sexual behaviors refines our passion from cravings to aspirations.

If the archeologist fails to unearth a treasure in the first scoop, another is set on the mesh. Our souls are buried in the detritus of daily living, the struggle for safety and sanity. The goal of Judaism, as described in Torah, is to expose the sanctity of our lives. Every day of the calendar, every week of the year, is a process of separating out the shining treasures of who we can be from the accumulations of who we have been.

Just in case you thought I was original, the prophet Amos offered this image nearly three thousand years ago:

“For I will give the order
And shake the House of Israel—
Through all the nations—
As one shakes [sand] in a sieve,
And not a pebble falls to the ground.”

Rabbi Evan J. Krame