Parshat Tzav Shabbat HaGadol
There is a great scene in The Godfather Part II, in which Michael (Al Pacino) is in crisis with both his business and his family. He asks his mother if it is possible that one could work so hard and yet still lose connection to his family. His mother replies, “But you can never lose your family.”
This week we read Parshat Tzav. We are commanded to have a continual flame burning. “A perpetual fire shall be kept burning on the altar; it may not go out/אֵשׁ תָּמִיד תּוּקַד עַל הַמִּזְבֵּחַ לֹא תִכְבֶּה.” The Sfas Emes teaches that “inside the heart of every Jew there is a hidden point that is enthusiastically aflame with [love of] God, a fire that cannot go out. Even though ‘it may not go out’ here refers to a prohibition, it is also a promise.” The promise is that although there are difficulties and distractions that make it harder at times to feel the warmth of that inner flame, we know that it is always there. Prayer is the point where we fan the flame in order to burn away those parts of us that make it difficult to serve God and make the world a better place. Prayer, in essence, is that very struggle inside of us. Rabbi Art Green explains that “[i]ndeed, there is pure fire of love in our hearts, but it is there in order to meet and consume our lower passions, our distractions, all those thoughts that seem such un-welcome guests in our hearts when we try to pray. But their presence is the very point of prayer. They—or the ‘we,’ the self who is represented by them—come to us in that moment in order to be consumed, to be taken up into that secret fire that burns within us.”
This week is the final week in the lead up to Passover. We will be cleaning our homes and removing all the leaven/hametz from our homes. We also need to begin our spiritual spring cleaning. This week it is important that we are reminded: you can never lose your inner flame. It is now the time to use that fire to sweep away the inner corners of our souls, so that when we sit down at the Seder Table, we are truly free from the limitations that have restricted us. This year, we are all free. Next year in Jerusalem!
 Lev. 6:6
 Yehudah Aryeh Leib Alter (Hebrew יהודה אריה ליב אלתר, 15 April 1847 – 11 January 1905), also known by the title of his main work, the Sfas Emes (Yiddish) or Sefat Emet שפת אמת (Hebrew), was a Hasidic rabbi who succeeded his grandfather, Rabbi Yitzchak Meir Alter, as the Av beis din (head of the rabbinical court) and Rav of Góra Kalwaria, Poland (known in Yiddish as the town of Ger), and succeeded Rabbi Chanokh Heynekh HaKohen Levin of Aleksander as Rebbe of the Gerrer Hasidim
 Sfas Emes 3:21
 Rabbi Art Green, Language of Truth, pg. 156
Rabbi Ezra Balser has been the rabbi at Temple Beth Sholom since July 1, 2016. He received his “smicha” (ordination) in June 2017 from Hebrew College while also earning a Master’s Degree in Jewish Studies. He has also received the iCenter's Certification in Israel Education.