The New Shul

Parshat Sh’mini/Shabbat Parah

In this week’s special parashah, Parah, we read about the red heifer, the sacrifice whose ashes were used to purify us from contact with the dead. The Torah teaches that the red heifer had to be “perfect, without blemish, never having borne the yoke.”

The Seer of Lublin turned that vision of perfection upside down. He taught that, if we think that we are “perfect, without blemish” it must mean that we have never “borne the yoke.” If we feel satisfied with ourselves, it can only mean that we have never struggled for a greater cause. To do a mitzvah is inevitably to feel imperfect, because the work of bringing God into the world is infinite and we are limited. To feel unblemished is a false goal.

Our culture holds up personal perfection — a perfect body, a perfectly-adjusted psyche — as the ideal to strive for. But the Seer of Lublin offers us a very different way to think about fulfillment. We find wholeness in the very work that highlights where we fall short. We find completeness in the very struggle that makes us most aware of our limitations — the struggle to bring more of God into this world.

  • Shabbat services at The New Shul are on Friday evenings from 6 to 7 pm and on Saturday mornings from 9 am to 12 noon. The kiddush this Shabbat, March 22, is sponsored by Joy Bagatell in memory of Fillmore Bagatell.
  • Childcare is available from 10 am to 12 noon on Shabbat mornings. Munchkin Minyan for pre-schoolers and their parents meets this Shabbat from 11:00 to 11:30 am.
  • Minyanim during the week are on Sunday mornings at 9:30 am and on Wednesday mornings at 7 am.
  • On Shabbat morning April 5, our guest teacher will be Rabbi Shmuly Yanklowitz, director of the Valley Beit Midrash.
  • The New Shul is collecting food donations for “Just Three Things,” to help young adults who have aged out of the foster care system. Please bring packaged items that are either ready-to-eat or require only microwave preparation. To arrange a drop-off, call or email the shul.