May 8, 2021

Yoma 27

Today’s daf (Yoma 27a) quotes from Vayikra 1:8 from where it is learnt that the word וערכו – ‘and they shall arrange’ – comes to teach us that ‘two’ (or more) kohanim should be involved in arranging and laying out the limbs of the sacrifices on the altar.

Interestingly, the word ערך has various meanings both in the Tanach and in modern hebrew. It can mean preparing, organizing or presenting either items, words or ideas, and it can also refer both to the values of a person, as well as to a person’s valuables. As Rav Hirsch explains (in his commentary to Tehillim 5:4), “when used with reference to thoughts, it means “to present” an idea in the proper manner, [and] to portray it so as to make it clearly understood.” In fact, the word for editor in modern Hebrew is עורך for this specific reason, because an editor helps an author ensure that the ideas which they wish to share with others are clearly presented and formulated.

And why is this significant? Because, as we learn in today’s daf, the word וערכו alludes to the fact that no singular person is generally capable of arranging things exactly as needed. Instead, it takes two or more to achieve that goal.

A fact that is often overlooked in the modern world is that even those who seem to have everything in life totally ‘organized’ often draw from the advice they have received from others; that even the most gifted of authors benefit from the contributions of an editor, and that even the most eloquent of speakers gain from the advice of others when planning what they wish to say. In fact, I believe that this is among the reasons why our Sages emphasized the value of friendship – as powerfully expressed in Avot 1:6 (‘acquire for yourself a friend’) – because not only should we value friendships for friendships sake, but also, because friendships add value to our life and they help us in the arrangement of our ideas, our priorities, and our values. Sometimes this is evident in ‘real time’ when we call a friend or mentor while we are in the middle of making a decision, and other times it is ‘after the fact’ when we recall the words and wisdom of a friend or mentor. Yet in both cases, what we say and do is enriched by the words and wisdom of others whom we value in our life.

So when I learnt today’s daf and read the words – שנים וערכו, “and they shall arrange – this involves two”, I was reminded of my friends, mentors and teachers whose words and wisdom help me – on a daily basis – formulate my words and ideas and who help me reach the decisions that I take, and how we should all ‘value’ those who add ‘value’ to our life, and in doing so, help us ‘organize’ and make sense of the decisions we are called to make in life.

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