[First posted on The Times of Israel at: http://blogs.timesofisrael.com/shmini-dont-lecture-me/]
Ibn Ezra Leviticus: Shmini
“Don’t Lecture Me…”
“What you dislike in another take care to correct in yourself.” -Thomas Sprat
In Jewish tradition, the High Priest is granted a spectrum of ritual powers and responsibilities. One of the many curious ones is the ability, through animal sacrifice, to beseech for divine atonement for the nation of Israel.
However, before the High Priest brings this powerful sacrifice that has the ability to achieve forgiveness for the multitude of Israel, he is first directed to bring a personal atonement sacrifice.
Ibn Ezra on Leviticus 9:7 explains that the High Priest needs to attain personal redemption first, before he can dare intermediate in the atonement of anyone else. One can’t expect a person guilty of a certain sin to be successful in freeing someone else of their spiritual blotch while he is still mired in the same problem. The potential penitent would scoff at such hypocritical preaching.
We need to clean our side of the street before we dare lecture anyone else about theirs.
To the various role models who have indeed straightened out their acts and inspire us by example.