Friday, March 27, 2009

Stealing the limelight

Every tourist to London inevitably stops for a photo-op at Buckingham Palace. We were no exception and chose to get there for the much talked-about “changing of the guard”.

We arrived just moments before the royal spectacle began and the streets were already overcrowded with Nikon-wielding tourists from around the globe, vying for front row spots. We joined the throng to the first strains of march music as the Bearskins rounded the corner, followed by the stiffly synchronised marching guards.

We were not close enough to watch all the proceedings inside the palace grounds, but caught glimpses of flags marching back and forth and heard the barking of orders as the shifts changed. My camera captured more than my eye could and- thanks to digital technology- I was able to watch everything frame-by-frame a few seconds after it happened. Stretch arm, snap, look at photo, stretch, snap, repeat.

One photo is particularly revealing. It shows a flag-bearing guard and his armed counterpart brusquely marching along, while a nondescript suit ‘n tie clad man with an ID tag dangling from his neck looks on from inside a doorway.

My first thought when I saw it: “There’s the real security of Buckingham Palace”.

The honour guard at the palace is a great tourist trap, but the royals are most likely watched over by people you wouldn’t even notice.

Serving the King of kings is not too different. Some strut their Mitzvah stuff with a display that turns heads and elicits gasps of admiration. Others go about doing what needs to be done, with nobody noticing.

As we start the third book of the Torah this week, we will read the secret of offerings to G-d: “Adam (a man) who brings from you an offering to G-d”.

In Hebrew, you could also call a man ish, gever or enosh, yet the Torah chooses the name Adam in this context. It wants to remind us of the first person to ever give something to G-d: Adam. Soon after his creation, Adam offered a sacrifice to G-d. Nobody else was around to see what he had done. Adam was not out to impress anyone with his dedication to the Divine, because there was nobody around to impress.

The Torah highlights this message: Before you get into the details of what you plan to do for G-d, make sure you know how to do for G-d. Be like Adam, unconcerned for the approval of others, focused instead on what G-d needs you to do .

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