Avidan Freedman

98/929 Milu’im: The Challenge of Doing Nothing. Vayikra Chapter 8

What does it take to be a kohen? Chapter 8 records the intense weeklong Kohen training program. At the end of it, the Torah testifies that Aharon and his sons did everything they were commanded.

What did that entail? In the previous verse, the implication seems to be that their main obligation for seven days was… to sit at a gate, day and night, and not to move. Sounds a lot like today’s ‘milu’im’ for many…

When you look at verses throughout the chapter, you see that it’s not much of an exaggeration. Aharon and his sons are almost entirely passive throughout the chapter.

One of the only things they do is to lay their hands on the korbanot, in a symbolic act of identification with the korban. It’s not just that the kohanim are passive. They are described with identical phrases and undergo identical processes as the inanimate elements of the Temple service. In chapter 8, the kohanim literally become klei kodesh, holy vessels.

The great challenge of Aharon and his sons for seven days, the days of ‘milu’im’, of filling their hands, was first and foremost to empty their hands in order to be able to accept their mission. It’s not easy to be passive, to become a kli, to negate one’s own wishes and desires in order to make room for the will of others. It takes tremendous humility, but the secret of being of being a kohen is to understand, to borrow Matisyahu’s words in a song all about serving God, “you’ve gotta give yourself up and then you become whole…If your cups already full then it’s bound to overflow.”

Exactly how hard it is, we will learn in two chapters, from two who fail the challenge. And Matisyahu will have a song about them, too.


This is my own little insight about the 929 chapter of the day, in 300 words or so. I’d love to hear your comments and start a conversation

What’s 929? A near-impossible challenge of consistency. A song of Jewish unity. A beautiful project worth checking out. Learn more at

About the Author
Avidan Freedman is the co-founder and director of Yanshoof (, an organization dedicated to stopping Israeli arms sales to human rights violators, and an educator at the Shalom Hartman Institute's high school and post-high school programs. He lives in Efrat with his wife Devorah and their 5 children.
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