Monday, June 24, 2013

Pinchas 73 - The power and Pitfalls of consistency

After Moses asks God to appoint a leader to succeed him and lead the people, God tells Moses to give the Israelites a spiritual inheritance in the form of the Temple service.  The first in a long list of sacrifices and offerings is the ' Korban Tamid ' the continual daily offering that was brought twice a day , morning and afternoon , on every day of the year without exception.
The biblical text, in a strange way  interrupts the description of the laws  pertaining to the Daily offering , and tells us that this offering was identical to the one that offered in the wilderness of Sinai during the inauguration of the tabernacle.
This Tuesday ,is the fast of  the 17th of the month of Tamuz .
On this day 5 tragedies took place. Moses broke the 2 tablets on which the 10 commandments were written, The Continual daily offering – the Korban Tamid -was stopped and annulled, the walls of Jerusalem were breached ,  Opastamus burned the Torah scroll and placed an idol in the temple.
It would appear that stopping the bringing of the daily sacrifice seems the most minor of the tragedies especially that today we seem   get along without a temple and its sacrifices. Also the daily sacrifices are not considered the high lights of the year, like those of the Festivals or special occasions like   Yom Kippur when the people used to come to visit the temple , so why is the stopping of the Daily sacrifice so significant.?
The continual daily sacrifice  takes priority  over all other sacrifices – it is the first sacrifice to be brought and if one has to choose between a more holier sacrifice like the additional sacrifice brought on the Sabbath and the daily sacrifice , the daily sacrifice is brought.
The answer is that the daily continual offering is symbolic of consistency and routine. What defines a person is his 'daily routine ' and  how he lives his life on a day to day basis. It is his continual daily connection with his creator , with learning, and with his physical body = a healthy life style – exercise, healthy eating , spiritual food etc . It is about consistency and process, loving what you do,  rather than focusing on loving what you achieve .
Consistency, good habits, routine, and structure are very important for people to flourish and succeed.  But routine and consistency have a major  pitfall. It so easy that our actions become stale, automatic, robotic with no thought . They become rote –' mitzvat anashim me'lumada '
The Bible interrupts the description of the laws   pertaining to the Daily sacrifice , and tells us that this sacrifice was identical to the one that offered in the wilderness of Sinai during the inauguration of the tabernacle. This is also to remind ourselves  that the daily sacrifice should be brought with the same feelings of  excitement, newness  and enthusiasm that accompanied the first daily offering .
 In fact our actions should be like musicians whose performance has the richness of a thousand performances and the excitement of a first performance.
 King David in Psalms 27:4 says  - "I asked one thing from G-d, that is my request; to dwell in the House of G-d all the days of my life, and to visit His Palace."
 King David wants to dwell in God's house all the days of his life , yet wants still to experience the newness and the excitement that a visitor experiences in the house of G-d.
As parents , educators and people who are interested in self growth and empowerment how do we help ourselves and our children to be consistent with our daily routines and yet maintain the newness and the excitement of a first time performance and avoid the pit fall of consistency  - automated action.?
With kids we confuse the need to give 'structure and routine'  with control and compliance. 'Reasonable structures should be  imposed only when necessary , in a flexible manner , without undue restrictiveness, and when possible , with the participation of the child.' –AK  Healthy structures can be defined  as the provision of  healthy guidelines and information that children need to be ' self –determining . ' -Grolick
The ' imposed ' routine or structure is usually enforced by using rewards and punishment and not by ' teaching and refection.' This further impairs any internalization and commitment to the values underlying the actions , and makes for 'rote ' behavior.
The motivation driving a routine or structure is usually extrinsic so for example, learning is driven by grades and tests or making the honor's roll instead of the love of learning expressed by a continuous learning on a daily basis.
Dieting and exercise is driven by the goals of losing weight and good results on blood tests rather than trying to adopt a healthy life style which you enjoy and believe in .
 We forget the lesson of the daily offering that it is the everyday activities and not the highlights of life that are important and define us. We focus primarily on 'achievement and not on the 'process'.
We make the mistake by overrating and calling for more ' self discipline , grit and resilience ' in order to achieve the goals of consistency and hard work. Proverbs 5:19 in the context of learning says – be'ahavata tisgeh tamid – by the love for her ( torah learning ) you will be captivated for- ever , always and continuously. It is the love for what we do that makes for self discipline, grit and resilience possible in healthy ways.
The way we can promote the love of what we do is try to support the autonomy of kids, that they feel self directed as we should as well when we pursue our goals  , we all should feel a sense of purpose , relevance and connection, be competent, feel a sense of belonging, support and relatedness to the people around us.

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