The New Shul

Parshat Vayikra

This weeks’s parashah, Vayikra (which opens the book of Leviticus), introduces the laws of sacrifice, whose purpose was to purify the Jewish people. In traditional Jewish education, the book of Leviticus was the first book that young children learned, as soon as they were able to read. In an ancient midrash, Rav Assi explained why: because those who are most pure — i.e. little children — have a special connection to the Torah’s teachings about purity.

What lesson does that hold for the rest of us, who are no longer children? Perhaps Rav Assi meant to remind us of what children have to teach adults. Adulthood is all about the recognition that life is not simple. But sometimes we can be too grown up. We can get so caught up in complexity, in shades of gray, that we find ourselves enslaved, unable to move. We can forget that some of the most basic answers in life really are simple.

The story of Pesah reminds us of the time when we as a people were young, when we were ready to drop everything and follow God into the desert, with none of the entanglements that would later complicate our lives. The radical simplicity of matzah — made of nothing but flour and water — reminds us that to be free means to strip away the layers of complexity that trap us in the status quo. As we prepare for Pesah, removing all the hametz from our homes, may we cleanse ourselves internally as well, freeing ourselves to answer God’s call once again.

  • 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. This Shabbat, April 1, we will celebrate the bar mitzvah of Bijan Bobrow, son of Ben and Mojdeh Bobrow. The kiddush-lunch is sponsored by the Bobrow family.
  • Childcare is available from 10 am to noon on Shabbat mornings. Our learning service for grades K to 4 is from 11 to 11:40 am.
  • Minyanim during the week are on Sunday mornings at 9:30 am, Monday evenings at 7 pm, Wednesday mornings at 7 am, and Wednesday evenings at 7 pm.
  • Pesah begins on Monday night April 10. Our services for the first two days of Pesah are on Tuesday and Wednesday, April 11 and 12, beginning at 9 am. Our services for the last two days of Pesah are on Monday and Tuesday April 17 and 18 beginning at 9 am. Our service for the last day, Tuesday April 18, will include Yizkor, the memorial prayer.