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.

  • Due to Covid, The New Shul’s Shabbat morning service takes place outdoors and off-site, on the grounds of the Sandpiper School, 6724 E. Hearn Rd, from 9:30 to 11:30 am on Saturday mornings. Everyone is welcome. Please use the west parking lot and come around to the back of the school. Masks and social distancing are required (for distancing purposes, you might want to bring your own chair). Informal attire is fine.
  • The kiddush this Shabbat, March 20, is sponsored by Althea Levine.
  • All other New Shul events continue online. They include: Kabbalat Shabbat on Friday afternoons (5:30 pm this Friday), Havdalah (7:30 pm this Saturday night), daily text study, and weekly classes. Please contact us for the Zoom link.