This Shabbat is referred to as Shabbat Parah. Shabbat Parah, meaning, “Shabbat of the Red Heifer”, prepares us for the upcoming Jewish holiday, Passover. Can you believe that Passover is only 3 weeks away?! (check out the picture of me holding my homemade chocolate matzah)
On Shabbat Parah a Torah portion is read that deals with the red heifer whose ashes were combined with water to ritually purify anyone who had been in contact with a dead person. This was because only people who were pure could eat from the Passover sacrifice. Therefore, the Shabbat’s main purpose in the times of the Temple was for Jews to purify themselves before coming to Jerusalem for the pilgrimage festival of Passover.
Being that we are no longer living in a time with a Temple or sacrifices, I believe that we can still find meaning in purifying ourselves before Passover. What might that look like in the 21st century? What might that look like for you?
As we begin the countdown to Passover we too can purify ourselves and prepare for this holiday of remembrance and freedom. Maybe for you Passover preparation is more of a physical act. Buying ingredients, flipping through Passover recipe books, cleaning out bread from your house, or preparing for your Passover seder. Maybe for someone else Passover preparation is more of a spiritual, internal act. A time for reflecting on the current freedoms in their life, or maybe aspects of their life that they no longer want to feel enslaved to. With just three weeks to go before marking our people’s journey towards freedom, I invite you to engage in your own practice of purification.
Rabbinic Intern, Ashira Boxman