For the week of April 27, 2002 / 15 Iyar 5762
Torah: Vayikra / Leviticus 21:1 - 24:23
Haftarah: Ezekiel 44:15-31

Your Legacy

But the priests, who are Levites and descendants of Zadok and who faithfully carried out the duties of my sanctuary when the Israelites went astray from me, are to come near to minister before me; they are to stand before me to offer sacrifices of fat and blood, declares the Sovereign LORD. They alone are to enter my sanctuary; they alone are to come near my table to minister before me and perform my service (Ezekiel 44:15,16).

This week's Haftarah illustrates for us how the way we live our lives sets the stage for future generations. Ezekiel says that only the descendents of a man by the name of Zadok would be allowed to serve as priests in the temple, since only Zadok remained faithful to God at a time when all the other priests went astray.

This was the legacy Zadok left to his descendants. A legacy is an inheritance that may include material or non-material things or both. That legacy may or may not be of benefit, but either way we will all leave one to those who come after us.

The other day I met a man who is struggling with his faith in God. As he spoke it became apparent that his confusion was largely due to the legacy left to him by his parents. While he couldn't deny God's existence and at one level was desperate to know God, he also possessed great ambivalence toward heavenly things. His parents had some amount of religion in their lives, while living a very materialistic existence. This has left him very cynical towards life in general and God in particular.

This is not to say that we have a right to blame our immediate and/or distant ancestors for the current difficulties in our lives. God is more than able to help us overcome our problems. But as far as the legacy we leave for others, it is time that we begin to realize that the way we live our lives today will affect the generations to come.

In the case of our passage, we see how the majority of priests had failed to preserve their family's God-given calling. It did not seem that they understood how their actions were robbing their descendants from the privileges that they themselves enjoyed.

How many us are throwing away our lives not realizing how we are affecting those who will come after us? Looking beyond ourselves and our immediate situation may just help us to remain true to what is right and good when we are tempted to do otherwise.

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