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Completing the book of Shmot and celebrating Shabbat Ha'Chodesh

16/03/2023 09:12:52 AM


This coming Shabbat, we will read from two Torah scrolls. From the first, we will complete the book of Shmot-Exodus by reading the portions of Vayakhel-Pekudei. From the second, we will read the very first Mitzvah given to the people of Israel, the commandment to enumerate and sanctify the months of the Jewish calendar year. Thus, this coming Shabbat is entitled Shabbat Ha'Chodesh, literally, the Sabbath of the new month. In the days following this Shabbat, we will usher in the new month of Nissan and prepare for Pesach, only two plus weeks away.

It is noteworthy that we conclude the second book of the Torah on Shabbat Ha'Chodesh. As we review the highlights found in the book of Exodus, three major motifs emerge - the Exodus from Egypt, the revelation of the Ten Commandments, and the establishment of the Mishkan, a portable sanctuary. The first motif celebrates physcial freedom from slavery, which is celebrated each year during Pesach. The second motif celebrates spiritual freedom, which is celebrated each year during Shavuot. Very soon, we will begin to enumerate the forty-nine days which connect these two sacred holy day seasons. The third motif celebrates that the experiences of freedom are not limited to annual observances but are portable and accompany us every day of our lives.

The contemporary counterpart to the Mishkan is the synagogue. With the post-pandemic hybrid of in person participation coupled by livestream accessibility, as found in many synagogues, involvement in communal Jewish life is truly portable and can be with us at any moment in our lives.

Let us appreciate the lessons learned as we conclude the second book of the Torah and its introduction to the Pesach-Shavuot season.

Rabbi Howard Morrison

Wed, 29 May 2024 21 Iyyar 5784