I think that one of the primary obligations I have as an "adult" is to question every single thing my parents did. I don't do this with the aim of discounting what they did, but only in the aim of understanding, predicated on the belief that everything was done for a good reason.
That practice bore fruit this morning. I was thinking about biblical sacrifice. Animals, grains, money...all of it given away by people on (to some degree) a daily basis. That must have been annoying. I can only imagine what things will be like when, in messianic days, we have to give of ourselves constantly. Why would God give me X amount of stuff if I have to turn around and give some of it right back? Why wouldn't God just hold on to it, or earmark it before it comes to me? The tithing and first born consecration makes some sense, but the random sacrifices every day? Isn't that weird?
When I was a boy I got an allowance. Want to guess what it was? I was given one dollar a week. A dollar. But don't think that that dollar was then put into my pocket as I headed out to Dom's to buy baseball cards. That dollar was broken into 3 sections:
50 cents for spending money
25 cents that get put away as savings
25 cents to be given to charity
Every week, that was how the money was apportioned. It never dawned on me how strange that was. Why didn't my parents just give me an allowance of 50 cents and put some money into a tzeddakah (box), themselves? Why not just tell me that they were giving money in my name (heck, why not just give me the whole dollar?) Why not contribute to my bank account and leave me out of the loop on that -- very few little kids truly appreciate the value of putting aside savings, so why make me have to go through the little performance each week of splitting the money up?
But it dawned on me that doing this is similar to the system of sacrifices. When someone gives a gift in your name or on your behalf, you can be happy about it but you don't feel it. It was never really yours, so you don't get the sense of "giving" when you donate it. When I had to be the one putting the quarter in the tzeddakah box I really understood that I was giving something that I might have wanted to keep. It was in my possession briefly and then I lost it. It was very real. The sacrifices have to be like that -- we have to know that we are giving up something that was ours because we have to be involved in that process. If it is only "on paper" then it has no real value.
It took a while, but now I understand it, and it is genius. So, thank you mom and dad. Sorry it took so long for me to get the message.