The New Shul

Tazria-M’tzora/Shabbat Rosh Hodesh

The second of this week’s two parshiyot, M’tzora, teaches about the process by which one who was tamei — ritually impure, alienated from the divine — made the journey back into God’s presence in the days when the Temple stood. That process can serve as a metaphor for us today.

Rabbi Meir Simha Hakohen, the author of Meshekh Hokhmah pointed out that the Torah uses an odd grammatical form to refer to one has has been ritually purified by the priest. Instead of using the normal passive form nit’har (“purified”), it uses a reflexive form, mit’taher, meaning one who has participated in his/her own purification.

The point, according to the Meshekh Hokhmah, is that, when we are alienated from God and from each other, we must play an active role in making our way back. No priest or other intermediary can do the work for us. We are all ultimately responsible for our own journey.

On the other hand, we still need the support of others. Otherwise the Torah would have given no role to the priests at all. Though the journey is our own, we still depend on those who walk with us.

At this time, when physical isolation can so easily lead to spiritual isolation, this message is a crucial one. When we feel cut off from spiritual community, we must make the choice to reach across the physical divide and reconnect. No one else can make that choice for us. At the same time, the pull of others’ love for us makes that work possible. And our love for others does the same for them.

  • The New Shul is closed for now due to the Covid-19 crisis. In the mean time, all are welcome to join us for our on-line classes and  events. To participate in any of the events below, please use this link:
  • In lieu of daily minyanim, join us for on-line study of Pirkei Avot, on Sunday mornings at 9:30 am, and on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings at 6:30 pm.
  • On Friday afternoons at 5:15 pm, join us for an on-line drashah on the parashah of the week. All are welcome. This Friday, April 24, we will add some songs from Hallel for Rosh Hodesh.
  • Join us for virtual havdalah on Saturday nights. This Saturday April 25, the time is 7:45 pm.
  • Our on-line Talmud class meets on Mondays at 5 pm, and our on-line Parashah-of-the-Week class meets on Tuesdays at 11 am.