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Parshat - Vayakhel Pekudai-Parah

Thursday, 8 March, 2018 - 2:49 pm

Greetings from Jerusalem. I came with the JLI (Jewish Learning Institute) Land and Spirit trip. There are 11 people in our group, and altogether from all over the world there are close to 800. Today we went to see the site of the temporary Sanctuary in Shiloh and then to the permanent site of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem.  I am sitting now in a restaurant just outside of the Old City where we got together with several of our friends who lived in Palo Alto and are now in Israel, spending a wonderful evening together. As always, being in Israel is a meaningful, uplifting experience, and this time it was especially meaningful to be at the sites of the Sanctuary and the Temple during the week when we read in the Torah about the setting up of the Sanctuary in the parshas of Vayakhel and Pekudai. 

In addition to the regular parshas of Vayakhel and Pekudai, we use a second Torah to read the portion called “Parshat Parah,” which contains the laws of the Red Heifer that was used to purify a person who had touched a corpse, rendering him or her unfit to eat the meat of the Pesach sacrifice.  This Parsha is always read the week before  “Parshat Hachodesh,” which tells us the laws of the Pesach sacrifice, to remind us of the obligation to purify ourselves in preparation for Pesach.  Although Parshat Hachodesh is a week away, this Shabbat we say the blessing for the new month of Nisan that begins next Shabbat, and I could not help think of the Parshat Hachodesh spirit as I was walking to the Kotel this evening, as I will soon explain.  In addition to the laws of the Pesach sacrifice, Parshat Hachodesh also deals with the Mitzvah of establishing the month of Nisan as the first month, and setting the Jewish calendar by the lunar cycle. This Parsha is always read on the Shabbat before the beginning of Nisan, or, as is the case this year, on the Shabbat that is the first day of the month. 

As I have written before, Nisan is the first month even though the beginning of the year is Tishrei, six months earlier. The reason is because while Tishrei is the anniversary of the creation of the physical world, Nisan is the anniversary of the beginning of Divine revelation in the world. Since our mission as Jews is to bring harmony between the physical and the spiritual and to transform the world into a home for Hashem, Nisan is rightfully the first month. 

It seems a little easier to relate to this concept in the Holy Land and especially in the holy city of Jerusalem. I look forward to the day, which we expect imminently, when Jerusalem will Not only be the home of the site of the Temple, but the site of the Temple itself, rebuilt in all its glory by Mashiach. Our sages taught that just as the redemption from Egypt was in Nisan, so will the final redemption by Mashiach be in Nisan. Let’s hope it happens now, we are after all blessing the month of Nisan already. Among other things it will save me the trip back. 

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