The New Shul

Parshat M’tzora/Shabbat Hagadol

This week’s parashah, M’tzora, teaches about the process by which one who was tamei – “impure,” or alienated from the divine – made the journey back into God’s presence in the days when the Temple existed.

Rabbi Simcha Kahan Dvinsky, the author of Meshekh Hokhmah, noted that the Torah uses an unexpected grammatical form to refer to the one who has been purified.  It does not call that person “nit’har” (“purified” in the passive voice), but rather “mit’taher” (“purified” in the reflexive voice) — meaning that the person has taken part in his own purification.

The Torah’s point, according to the Meshekh Hokhmah, is that, when we are alienated from God, 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.

Still, we need not make that journey alone.  That is why we seek each other’s company along the way.  The purpose of a spiritual community is to provide the support that makes it possible for each of us, no matter where we start from, to find our own way back into God’s presence.  May our shul always be such a community of searchers.