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March 13, 2013

ImageLet’s go for it again. I will try doing a blog. So many thoughts and ideas come to mind. Problem is trying to pull something together. I am going to try to pull something together with thoughts from this week’s Parsha, Pesach and my taper period.

This Shabbat marks the beginning of our reading the third book of the Torah, Sefer Vayikra, which deals primarily with the services and responsibilities of the Kohanim (priests). This and next week’s Torah portions focus on many of the korbanot (offerings/ sacrifices) to be brought in the newly-constructed Mishkan (Tabernacle).

Parshat Vayikra (Leviticus 1:1-5:26) begins with Hashem calling Moses into the Mishkan where he will be taught many mitzvot, to be ultimately passed on to the Jewish people. The first half of the Torah portion describes the various optional korbanot brought by individuals. They can be classified into three general categories, each one comprised of several gradations in size and expense: the korban olah (elevation offering) which is completely consumed on the altar; the korban minchah (meal offering) which, because of its inexpensive contents, is usually brought by someone of modest means; and the korban shelamim (peace offering) partially burned on the altar, with the remainder divided between the owners and the Kohanim. The second half of the portion (beginning with chapter four) discusses the required chatat (sin) and asham (guilt) offerings to be brought in atonement for unintentional transgressions.

Doing my last long ride on Monday with some mates past the beautiful Mt Martha and Mornington, Larry Cohen started singing his version of the Simon & Garfunkel song Sounds of Silence with his words – “Goodbye my old friends..” in reference to the fact that we are not going to be riding these distances for a long time.

While on the ride I was thinking of the sacrifices I have made to my family, friends and financially to get to the stage when I can say “goodbye” to these far away ride destinations I have grown to love (Mt Martha, Mornington, the top of Canadian Bay Road) and begin my Taper period.

Chris “Macca” McCormack in his book “I’m here to win” says – “… too many people – would be triathletes and others – deny their dreams. They talk about what they plan to do someday, but that is as far as they take it. ….They don’t honour that passion they feel or believe it’s worth sacrificing for, so they aren’t prepared to pay the price of reaching their goal…. If your goal is to compete in triathlon …., you’re definitely going to make sacrifices”

I read a beautiful thought from the Partners in Torah website on the Parsha which is very relevant.

“You shall salt all your meal-offerings with salt and you shall not omit salt, the covenant of your G-d, from being placed upon your meal-offerings. You shall bring salt on every one of your offerings” (Lev. 2:13).

A common denominator between the various offerings brought in the Tabernacle is that they all had salt placed on them. The Midrash says this was a result of a grievance during the creation of the world. On the second day, G-d split the lower waters (the waters on earth) from the upper waters (the atmospheric water). The lower waters were unhappy to be far from G-d and complained that they wanted to be closer to Him. G-d consoled them by telling them that salt, which is taken from the sea, would be placed upon all the offerings, and that water would be poured on the Altar during the holiday of Sukkot.

Why, then, do we put salt on the offerings rather than sea water, since it was the sea water that desired to be closer to G-d? Rabbi Yaakov Kamenetsky answers that water elevates itself and joins the upper waters simply by evaporating. What’s left behind is salt, which does not naturally ascend on its own. To place salt on the offerings means we should offer up the parts of ourselves that are not naturally inclined toward elevation, the qualities that we consider residue. When we can elevate the part of us that is least inclined to grow, that is the ultimate offering.

When we flex the muscles that we are least inclined to exercise, when we take on and succeed in opportunities that seem beyond our reach, when we change our diet, we not only get credit for reaching the goal, we retain a lasting residue of that hard work.

Loren & I have often said that once Pesach (Passover) starts we really enjoy it. Pesach more than the other Jewish Holidays takes a lot of advance preparation and sacrifice – The shopping, the cleaning, the koshering, the preparing for the Sedars (Passover meal)(even though this year we are not hosting one, there is still a lot of preparation required), the spiritual preparation and of course the cost.

When the Sedar begins all the pressures of the preparation fall away. I read the following quote on the Chabad website “All my work has given the holiday a special radiance, a luminous quality that’s purely Passover. In a generation of instant gratification, Passover reminds me on a yearly basis that hard work always pays off.”

Heading into the “Taper” period I am constantly reminded of a few words from various blogs and books I have read. During this period you have to realize there will be no increase in fitness. You just need to trust your fitness. Macca says – “The key to tapering is sleep. Rest, rest, rest. Don’t squeeze in one more session. The hard work is done. Rest and reward yourself (I need a beer or two!!!), (the key which I battle with) Remember, no guilt. You’re saying, “thank you body, for cooperating””.

Heading into the final week I am sure that I will be very nervous for the big day, but I am going to do all in my power to enjoy the day and hopefully finish feeling great.

Training for Ironman I have definitely had to take on more than I ever thought was possible and long after the event I am going to remember the training and sacrifices that I have made. I think that to achieve anything, both physically and spiritually in life requires sacrifices to be made.



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One Comment
  1. S Pamensky permalink

    LOVE reading your blog. You’ve followed something and with determination almost reached your goal… have shown perseverance, determination and committment. You’ve also been blessed with a family that stadn behind you and support you all the way.
    We’re with you and wish you good luck…..and know you will come out a ‘winner’. G-d bless. Momx xx

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