Torah Portion Vayikra and Jewish Marksmanship

This week’s Torah portion is parshah Vayikra, Leviticus 1:1-5:26. (Click here for the parsha in a nutshell from Chabad):
“In the Parshah of Vayikra, which opens the book of Leviticus, G-d speaks to Moses from the Tent of Meeting and begins His communication of the laws governing the bringing of the korbanot, the animal and meal offerings that are the central feature of the service performed in the Sanctuary.”

Of particular note to target shooters is:

No leaven… [shall be present] in any offering of G-d (2:11)

The rabbis explain this passage as follows:

Leaven, which is dough that has fermented and risen, represents self-inflation and pride, and there is nothing more abhorrent to G-d. In the words of the Talmud, “G-d says of the prideful one, ‘He and I cannot dwell together in the world.’”

I find that there is a direct correlation between my scores and humility. The more self-worth and self-importance we attach to our results on the target, the less likely we will shoot well and enjoy the sport in the long run.

Match pressure comes from caring about scores at a personal level. To care about a match score at a personal level implies your sense of self and identity is somehow tied into the results on paper. Maybe you think about how others will perceive you based on your score? Maybe how you perceive yourself is based on your score? It is very hard to do, but the key is to remember what is indisputably true: your score on the target has nothing to do with who you are as a person. If a high score is something you need to feel good about yourself, or to justify the time you’ve spent practicing, then your life priorities are out of balance.

That’s easy to say, but tough in practice. But I do believe that at the core of match pressure, especially the kind that makes you shoot worse than you do in practice, is pride of some form or another. Match pressure still sometimes throws me off, especially when I start thinking about moving up in classification as a result of the score I hope to shoot that day. That means I still have some improvement to make as a person before I can improve as a shooter.

And with that, Shabat Shalom!

One thought on “Torah Portion Vayikra and Jewish Marksmanship

  1. Earl

    When the shot is right, the shooter, the rifle and the target are one – none more important than the other. People do add so much drama in making the shot, but most of it is done before the shooter aligns the sight, picks up the sight picture and the rest to the follow through. Of course, the only real big variable is the shooter – the rifle and the target are solid. Humility might be a great gain from lots of good shooting.


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