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The Four Special Shabbatot

03/22/2022 09:12:18 PM


Rabbi Moshe Rudin


This month of Adar is the final month of the Hebrew year ushering in the springtime month of Nisan, the month of rebirth and liberation, the month of Passover.  Rosh HaShana may be the birthday of the world but Nisan is the first month of the year.  

But first, we mark four weeks of preparation, each with its own special reading and spiritual intention.  Here they are

Shabbat Shekalim which we celebrated three weeks ago.  We read about the yearly donation of the half-Shekel to the upkeep and. renovation of the Beit HaMikdash, the Temple in Jerusalem, symbol of the Jew people's blessing in the world.  We dedicate ourselves to the continued upkeep and nurturance of Jewish life.

Shabbat Zachor, in which we recall and determine anew to eradicate the perfidy and evil of Amalek, the worm of jealousy and hatred that gnaws at the human spirit and threatens to undermine and destroy human progress.  This reading always falls out on the Shabbat before Purim.

Shabbat Parah, in which we recall the ancient rite of purification and removing barriers to our full growth as spiritual beings.  This strange ritual and its hidden roots in the greatest sin of the Jewish people- the Golden Calf- is the central feature of this upcoming Shabbat. 

And finally, on the Shabbat before the first of Nisan, we celebrate Shabbat HaChodesh: the first Mitzvah given to Israel by G-d when we were still slaves: the Mitzvah that anticipated and served as catalyst for our freedom- the Mitzvah of establishing our own calendar, seizing power over our own lives by gaining control over the most precious commodity there is: out time.

These four Shabbatot with their themes of nurturance, self-mastery, removing barriers and taking control over time, prepare us for the greatest gift of G-d: the gift of free will.  Passover is the holiday of constant liberation, each year challenging and inviting us to explore on a higher and deeper level what it means to be truly free; to take responsibility for every aspect of our lives and to use that gift to bring ever greater blessing, joy and love into our lives and into the world 

Shabbat Shalom. 

Sat, May 25 2024 17 Iyyar 5784