The Weinstein family was discussing Parshas Emor at the Shabbos table. Shimi was describing many of the laws which the kohanim had to follow. "You know," interrupted Chaim, Shimi's younger brother. "It must be hard to be a kohen. He has to be careful all the time not to become tameh (impure)."
Mr. Weinstein looked at Chaim thoughtfully. He wanted to help Chaim understand that being a kohen was a privilege, not a difficulty.
"Think of your Uncle Aron, the scientist," he told him. Chaim remembered the last time Uncle Aron had come to visit. It was a while ago, because Uncle Aron was a very busy man, spending most of his time experimenting in his laboratory.
During his last visit, Uncle Aron had told Chaim about his work. He had to wear a white uniform every day, and put on a face mask most of the time. He always had to wash his hands with special soap before and after his work.
"Uncle Aron works very hard," Mr. Weinstein said. "He is doing important research in his laboratory, trying to discover which germs make people sick. He has to be very careful in his job, because any new germs which he brings in could spoil his experiments. And any germs which he takes home could make other people sick.
"Although he must obey many rules, Uncle Aron is happy, because he knows that his work helps doctors cure sick people.
"We can compare this to the work of the kohanim in the Beis HaMikdash. They had the special job of representing the entire Jewish people before HaShem.
"A kohen cannot serve in the Beis HaMikdash when he is impure. And so, the kohanim always had to be careful not to become impure. They didn't see these laws as a burden. They knew that keeping these rules makes it possible for them to carry out their special job in the Beis HaMikdash."
* * *
The Torah calls Jews "a nation of kohanim." We should all try do the things that the kohanim had to do.
For example, the kohanim offered sacrifices in the Beis HaMikdash. We don't have a Beis HaMikdash today, but our tefillah takes the place of these sacrifices.
The kohanim also taught Torah to the people. Like them, we should study and teach others what we know.
And the kohanim bless the people. They say, "Who has commanded us to bless His nation, Israel, with love." When we do our best to love our fellow Jew, then it won't be long before we see the kohanim serving HaShem in the Beis HaMikdash again.
(Adapted from Likkutei Sichos, Vol. IX, p. 399, and Vol. XIII, p. 137)