Parshat Vayakhel-Pekudei (Shabbat HaChodesh)
a. Shabbat Shkalim (Census)
b. Shabbat Zachor (Story of Amalek)
c. Shabbat Parah (Parah Adumah)
d. Shabbat HaChodesh (The Jewish Calendar)
We have finally reached the final special Shabbat which takes place every year on the Shabbat preceding Rosh Chodesh Nissan. It outlines two major concepts:
a. The Jewish Calendar
b. The traditions of Pesach (the offering, matzah, blood on the doorpost etc.)
This week's dvar Torah will focus on the Jewish Calendar.
Communal practices are bound, in essence, by time. It is necessary that we are required to practice something simultaneously for it to be communal otherwise we could practice it sporadically. We set times, both specific and general to ensure we can share in a communal experience. >From Shabbat times each week to the designated time for Shacharit on Shabbat, we schedule practices to ensure communal involvement.
All major religions in their creation brought a new calendar to the world. In doing so they tried to unify their unique culture in time-bound communal practices rather than relying on the already existing calendar. It would be unrealistic for a Muslim to calculate Ramadan based on the Gregorian (Jan-Dec) Calendar. Rather, s/he should use the Hijri (Islamic Calendar).
New calendars were usually based around the same ideas or times. For example: the new year was designated in many cultures to begin in spring to symbolise renewal. Not only is the Hebrew Calendar centred around spring (the biblical calendar in which Nissan is the first month not Tishrei) but so is the ancient Mesoptamian calendar, the Punjabi calendar, the Pakistani calendar and so on.
We must take a moment to appreciate how the creation of a calendar can both separates our culture from other cultures but is also simultaneously centred around the same ideas or motivations. The dual power of the calendar is to, paradoxically, unite and divide.
We must stand in appreciation of this dual power and integrate this into our lives.
We must learn to become proud of our Jewish culture and the ways it makes us difference. We must also be proud of the way Jewish culture makes us the same as others.
May we all be blessed with the ability to be proud of difference and similarities simultaneously.
Shabbat shalom and Chodesh Tov!!