Rabbi O’s Weekly Parsha: Tzav (Leviticus 6-8)Roberto Clemente’s Lesson in Job Clarity

When someone has to do a task that (s)he isn’t looking forward to, it’s common to hear “it’s not very glamorous, but somebody has to do it.” Which means, “this is really awful and meaningless but I have to do it.” But is there another—more positive—way to view these actions, and it is found in this week’s Parsha, which introduces the mitzvah of the daily removal of the ashes from the burnt-offerings.
The Kohen shall don his fitted linen tunic, and he shall don linen breeches on his flesh; he shall separate the ash of what the fire consumed…on the Altar, and place it next to the Altar. (Lev. 7:3).
The Kohen not only wears his priestly garment when performing the ash-removal service, the garment must also be fitted. Wouldn’t it be enough for him simply to wear a garment, even if it wasn’t fitted? In addition, explains Rashi, all priestly garments must be custom-tailored to fit each individual Kohen according to his physical measurements.A detailed analysis of the priestly garments was previously discussed in the Torah portion we read a few weeks ago (Tezaveh). Shouldn’t the directive of precise-fitting garments have been mentioned in conjunction with the priestly garments? Furthermore, why choose the mundane act of sweeping ashes as the place to instruct us about the imperative for the Kohen to wear fitted garments? Couldn’t we have learned this (fitted garments) idea in conjunction with a more distinguished service such as an anointment or sacrifice?
An anecdote from Roberto Clemente, one of baseball’s most significant figures, sheds light on this question. Clemente was playing outfield late into the 1968 season against the Houston Astros. The Pirates were no longer contenders, which meant that that game had no statistical meaning. A ball was hit deep into the outfield. As Clemente raced back, it seemed that the ball was going to hit the wall way over his head but that didn’t stop him from propelling himself toward the wall. Speeding at a forty-five-degree angle he collided with the wall at the same time that the ball hit it, two feet above his head. In a post-game interview, a reporter asked, “with only three games left in the season, your team can go no further this year. Why did you try so hard to make that play? Was it worth the potential harm you might have done to yourself?” Clemente was puzzled and explained: “I am not paid to win pennants. My job is to catch the ball. I tried to catch the ball. I was trying to do my job.”When the Torah tells us the Kohen’s clothes have to be custom-tailored (for that particular service) it is hinting to us that the job is also custom made for the person doing it.
The Kohen who cleans the ashes on a given day is not merely doing another Kohen’s job, he is doing a job tailor-made for him. Wearing an ill-fitted garment might give the impression of a lack of precision. What appeared to be the most trivial of jobs (cleaning the ashes) is a job that must be done and therefore a Mitzvah and should be taken seriously. It is the job of the hour and exactly what that particular Kohen was designated to do. The job is tailor-made for the individual and so too are his clothes.
What’s your job—the one that only you can do? Is it taking care of your elderly parents or taking care of your children? Is it being an understanding parent to your teenager who is causing you much grief? Is it being an understanding spouse or friend? Is it stepping up to take responsibility for a worthy cause? Whatever it is, inevitably it comes with many menial tasks ranging from changing diapers to driving to pick up a prescription. Whatever it takes to get to the goal can be as vital as the goal itself and might take focused commitment and even self-sacrifice.
The Kohen’s fitted garment reminded him of the importance of the seemingly meaningless job of collecting the ashes and ingrained in him the idea that every needed task should be viewed as significant. Next time you sigh when having to do something you deem unimportant, realize that if it is the need of your wife, husband, parent, child, or friend, it is worthy not only of your attention but also your being was motivated in being the one selected for that task.Realizing this not only makes the assignment more enjoyable but also helps to strengthen your relationships. We all crave commitment in our meaningful relationships. Every time you do a seemingly trivial or boring deed for someone meaningful in your life, you demonstrate commitment to the person and the relationship. People often ask, “how can I get the love I want in this relationship?” The idea above might be one of your most effective tools in attaining that which you most crave. 
Good Shabbos