By: Mark Hus
March 30, 2012
Since we have reached the last of the special Shabbatot that precede Passover, and since today is the BIG one (we know that because that’s what we call it), I would like to explore the unified theme that I believe is presented to us as we approach the holiday on which we celebrate our nationhood.
Parshat Shkalim relates to the census of the Jewish nation – which was taken by having every male who was over the age of twenty contribute towards the construction of the tabernacle by giving a half shekel. The rich man could not exceed and the poor man could not give less than a half shekel. In other words – everyone was counted because everyone counts. Everyone has something to contribute and no man shall be made to feel more or less important because of his financial worth.
Parshat Zachor commands us to remember how Amalek attacked us when we were weak and did not fear G-d. Michael Widlansky delivered an interesting Dvar Torah at the Schwab House Minyan and compared the two narratives about our initial battle against Amakek. In Sh’mot the picture we are given is of the miraculous nature of the battle, where the Israelites only prevailed while Moshe’s hand were raised to the heavens. There was no suggestion of any cowardly action on the part of Amalek. In D’varim, on the other hand, we are told that Amalek attacked from the rear seeking to take advantage of those who were weak. (Michael went on to discuss the dual nature of Amalek’s evil and our response to it, but. . . that is for another time.) What is most interesting in the
context of the discussion here is that the paragraph which we read for Parshat Zachor is the one that relates to protecting our weaker (physically, emotionally and/or spiritually) brothers and sisters. We are directed to remember to wipe out the concept of attacking the aged, the infirm and the non-believers among us.
Parshat Parah provides detailed instructions about the complex manner in which we can bring those who have become ritually impure back into the fold.
Last week, Parshat Hachodesh outlined the first mitzvah that was given to us as the Jewish people. While circumcision been previously directed, it was addressed to Abraham and his descendants. “This month”, the Torah tells us “is for you (in the plural, meaning the Jewish people) the first of all months.” The reading continues to say that each family should take a lamb into its home for the Passover sacrifice – which would be eaten on the night of Passover. The Torah is very specific that if one family did not have the financial capacity to get its own lamb, other families must share with them.
Interestingly, this week there is no special Torah reading. We only take out one Sefer Torah. There is only a special Haftorah which concludes with the promise of the coming of the Messiah. Instead, in every synagogue its Rabbi is expected to teach his particular community about an aspect of Passover.
The theme of inclusion and caring for one another has been repeated in one form or another in each of the four Parshiot to date. It reaches its climax when we begin the Seder inviting all who are hungry to come in, sit and eat. That is (or should be) the essence of our peoplehood. Now the onus is on us and our teachers to find a specific and appropriate message as we anticipate celebrating Passover together.
This particular Shabbat Hagadol is not just BIG, it is HUGE because we are all joining to celebrate Ariella Robinson’s Bat Mitzvah.
Mazal tov!!!! Mazal tov!!!! Mazal tov!!!! Shabbat shalom and chag kasher v’sameach to all!!!!.