Let us consider two machines. One of them is a simple wind up toy that a child plays with. The other is a complex machine that forms computer chips. The first is limited in its function, but also there is a limit to the amount and complexity of the faults that can arise. It may break but it can often be reconstructed and mended with relative ease. This is not the case with the second machine. Due to the many parts that comprise the complex system it is capable of many functions, but it can also give rise to a great number of problems that cannot easily be rectified. It requires great skill and knowledge to mend the machine if it breaks down.

In light of this we are not really careful when using the child’s toy. Indeed, we happily hand it over to the child and encourage him to play with it, knowing full well that he is liable to break it, as we are confident that we can always mend it.

However, we are particularly careful when using the second machine, we would not allow just anyone to touch and work the machine. Rather, we assign only particularly skilled workers to run it. In addition we would have a strict set of rules governing who can use the machine and how. At the slightest sign of any problem we would be careful to mend the machine and even cease its functioning in order to assure that the problem would not get any worse.

The more complex the machine the more potential there is that there could be a possible malfunction and therefore the more careful we would be.

This is the case in spiritual systems as well. The most complex Divine system that we have is the Beit HaMikdash, the Holy Temple. In the Temple God is served in a number of ways, through song and music, through sacrifices, that include burning, waving, and eating. The building itself included great art and physical beauty.

Thus the Beit HaMikdash is open to potential disaster and can lead those that enter it astray, as indeed happened with Nadav and Avihu, Aharon’s sons, who offered a strange fire and were consumed in the midst of the celebration of the dedication of the Temple.

Therefore this week’s Parshah records the intricate laws of purity, of taharah, that applied only to the cohanim, to those priests who worked in the Beit HaMikdash. They were required to maintain a high of level of taharah in order to apply themselves to the service of God in the Beit HaMikdash. They were not to come into contact with death but to celebrate life through serving God.

However, the cohanim did not only serve the purpose of being close to God. They were also to guide the people to draw close to the Divine as well. Yet the difference between the people and the cohanim was that, while the cohanim devoted their time to serving God in the Temple, the rest of the Jewish people maintained a life dedicated to working the land and being concerned with the physical world.

The people could not reject their physical life and spend all their time in the Beit HaMikdash, nor was this required of them. Rather, they were to serve God through the medium of the physical world around them.

Therefore the other major subject in this week’s Parshah is the laws of the festivals, but not the laws of the sacrifices, that appears in Parshat Pinchas, rather, the laws of how the people are to observe the festivals even outside of the Beit HaMikdash. Thus we read about eating matzah, blowing the shofar, fasting, building a succah and waving the four species.

The message is clear. The more delicate the system the more sanctity and purity is needed. But this needs to be coupled with a strong sense of observing God’s law and performing His service on a physical and day to day level. Then the entire Jewish people, cohanim and non-cohanim alike, can draw close to God and inject kedushah into their lives.