Although the Temple is not standing right now and the priests, descendants of Aaron, are not able to fully fulfill their birthright mission, there is still much to learn from their obligations. In Leviticus 16:17, Aaron is told to bring sacrifices to gain atonement for himself, his household, and the whole Jewish nation. First himself. Then his household. Then the nation.
Ancient Jewish wisdom teaches that before one can attempt to change the world, one must first change his smaller sphere of influence, his family. Before he can even change his family, he must change himself.
It’s a powerful moment, as our children grow, when a parent realizes he can’t change or control his child. My child chooses at each moment how he wants to live his life—it’s his life, not mine. I, as a parent, have to recognize that I only have the ability to change myself. By witnessing my development and my improvement my child may be influenced to change.
In a book describing the life of an exemplary Jewish woman who recently passed away, it describes that when her child struggled with something like getting up on time for prayer, this woman wouldn’t go wake him. Instead she would go pray for him.
When we notice areas we’d like our children to improve in, let’s work on improving ourselves in those areas. Our circle of influence ripples outwards from ourselves, the center. When we change, those ripples move through everyone around us allowing them to change too.
The Kohen Gadol, the High Priest atoned for himself, his family, and then his nation. If we begin to purify ourselves, we end up with a purified family and a purified nation, but it has to go in that order.