The New Shul

Parshat Tzav/Shabbat Hagadol

This week’s parashah, Tzav, describes the priestly task of cleaning up after the burning of the daily offerings. “The priest shall dress in plain linen garments. . .  and he shall gather up the ashes.” Rabbi David Silber noted that there was only one other occasion during the year when priests dressed in plain linen. That was on Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the year.

It is hard to imagine a sharper contrast than that between the special sanctity of Yom Kippur and the routine drudgery of cleaning up after the daily sacrifices. Why does the Torah connect the two?

Perhaps the Torah’s message is that cleaning up our spiritual debris is the holiest work of all. Sweeping away tired grievances, old prejudices and assumptions that weigh us down and keep us trapped, makes new growth possible. Without that regular clean-up work, true spiritual insight is impossible.

That is the principle behind our Pesah preparations. We clean for Pesah in the faith that lightening our load will enable us to re-experience the meaning of the Exodus. Clearing away the hametz in our homes and in ourselves — all physical and spiritual clutter that has passed its expiration date — will make the peak experience of leaving Egypt possible. Sweeping up the ashes will clear our way to the Holy of Holies.

  • The New Shul’s Shabbat services are on Friday evenings from 6 to 7 pm, and on Saturday mornings from 9 am to 12 noon. The kiddush-lunch this Shabbat, March 24, is sponsored by Israel and Carol Naishtut in honor of their 67th wedding anniversary, and Israel’s 88th birthday.
  • Childcare is available from 10 am to noon on Shabbat mornings.
  • Services for the first two days of Pesah are on Shabbat morning March 31 and Sunday morning April 1, beginning at 9 am.
  • Services for the last two days of Pesah are on Friday morning April 6 and Shabbat morning April 7, beginning at 9 am. The kiddush-lunch on April 7 will be sponsored by Karen and Ivan Brodsky.