Tidbits of Torah

Shabbat Parashat VaYikraheadshot white 2015cropped

Rosh Chodesh Nisan

Shabbat HaChodesh

Power and Pride

March 17, 2018 – 1 Nisan 5778

Dear Friends,
This Shabbat, Shabbat HaChodesh, is the last of the four special Shabbatot that lead up to Passover! It is an extra special Shabbat because Rosh Chodesh, the beginning of the new Jewish month, is also on Shabbat!
And, so, we take out three Torah scrolls this Shabbat:
From the first, we will read the weekly Torah portion of VaYikra, divided into six(!) aliyot.
From the second (our Holocaust Torah), we will read the Rosh Chodesh reading which will be our seventh aliyah.
And, from the third, we will read a special maftir for Shabbat HaChodesh, taken from Exodus 1:1-20. This maftir describes the eating of the Pesach lamb sacrifice on the first night of Passover (in ancient times). It reminds us of the story of Passover, and of some of the rituals associated with Passover. All in all, it is a timely reminder that this is the time for us to engage in our own preparations for a meaningful Passover!
One of the themes that runs through all of this Shabbat’s readings is the power of God to create and to redeem. We, as human beings, also have power to create and to redeem, albeit much more limited power than God’s power….
In VaYikra, Moses teaches us about human power. His connection with God, as well as with our People, was unique. Yet, when God called to Moses (in the Hebrew: VaYikra), Moses recorded the letter aleph at the end of the Hebrew word VaYikra as a particularly small alef. And, so it appears, as a small alef, in all of our Torah scrolls to this day. The small alef symbolizes Moses humility, despite his unique connection to God and to our people, and despite his immense power.
Our Sages note that when Moses recorded the power and greatness of our people in Deuteronomy33:29: Ashrecha Yisrael, mi chamocha am nosha ba-Adonai [O happy Israel! Who is like you, A people delivered by the Lord…), the alef of Ashrecha is not a small alef. As opposed to his personal humility, when Moses speaks of the connection and of the power of our people, he speaks with open pride and gratitude!
As we prepare for Passover, let us remember that we can all be a part of the on-going creative and redemptive processes in our world, but that, as Moses taught us by his example, our pride and gratitude would best be directed not to ourselves, but to the successes of our communities, of our people, and of our world!
Shabbat Shalom and Chodesh Tov [a good month]!
Rabbi Gilah Dror