Parshat Tzav: Who Should Take Out The Garbage?

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In this week's parshah, Parshat Tzav, the pasuk states, "u'Fashat et begadav," the Kohen (priest), divests himself of his holy priestly clothing, "v'Lavash begadim acharim," he puts on ordinary simple clothing, "v'Hotzi et ha'Deshen," to remove the ashes and dispose of them. Why necessitate and require the holy Kohen to do a menial chore of tossing the ashes? Why not allow it to be someone else's responsibility? A beautiful idea based on Rav Simcha Bunim of Peshischa was shared by my father, Rav Yitzchok Fingerer shlit”a. Rav Bunim explained that it is precisely the holy person who engages in the most exalted of services and understands that it is not beneath his dignity to remove the cinders as that too can be holy.

Perhaps, we can all relate to this principle in a conventional sense, without belittling the greatness of the Kohen, rather applying it to our lives. Sometimes we are asked to take out the garbage or clean up a mess. If you understand that you can consecrate and sanctify even a mundane, menial chore because you are doing it out of service to Hashem and for the service for His people, that too is holy!

One day, a newly married couple had a dispute, that resulted in a consultation with Rav Mordechai Gifter zt”l. The husband, a budding Torah scholar, considered it belittling and beneath his dignity to fulfill the lowly task of taking out the nightly trash. His wife, on the other hand, disagreed and felt that it was his job. Rav Gifter decided that if the young man thought he was too important to do such a menial task of taking out the trash, he should not have to do it.

That night there was a knock on this young couple’s door. To their astonishment, it was the Rosh HaYeshivah, Rav Gifter. “I came over to take out the garbage,” announced the Torah luminary. Noticing the dismay on the woman’s face the rav explained, “We decided that your husband was too important to take out the garbage. Somebody must do it and it surely should not be you, so I am here to do the task.” What greatness! We must remember that we can consecrate and sanctify even the most mundane duty like a lowly chore. By doing so our stature of holiness rises!

 By Aryeh Fingerer