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Parashat Tetzaveh (and Purim!)

03/06/2020 01:19:56 PM


Shabbat Shalom and Chag Purim Sameach! Though tonight we are kicking off our festive celebrations for Purim, let’s not lose track of our Parashat HaShavua, which this week is Tetzaveh. This parasha is mostly about the clothing of the priests, but it starts out with the verse, “And you shall command the children of Israel'' (Exodus 27:20). Eighteenth century Moroccan Kabbalist Ohr HaChaim comments on this: 

"The word tetzaveh, “you shall command,” also means “you shall connect” and “you shall bond.” Thus the verse can also be read as G‑d saying to Moses: “And you shall bond with the children of Israel.” For every Jewish soul has at its core a spark of the soul of Moses."

In our Megillah story, we know that Esther is Jewish, but we see no evidence of her Jewish practice. She eats at the Persian banquets, without apparent concern for Kashrut. We never hear mention of God or Shabbat or prayer, even from Mordecai who is presumably more religiously observant (as evidenced by his more forceful insistence on Jewish identity and his refusal to bow to Haman on the reasoning of being a Jew). But as every Jewish soul has at its core a spark of the soul of Moses, Esther is as empowered to lead her people out of the hands of tyrants as Moses was, and as much of a “good Jew” for it, despite her lack of ritual observance. So too, any Jewish person today, whether they are Orthodox or secular, affiliated with a synagogue or not, or anything “in between” (as though these identifiers actually exist on a linear spectrum), has in them the spark of Moses. Each of us has a place in the Jewish community, and an ability to lead our people out of the narrow places of the world and into a brighter future for all. May each of us recognize the opportunities when they arise, may we find the courage to act, and may we all bring light and happiness, joy and peace into each other’s lives.
Amen, Shabbat Shalom, and Chag Purim Sameach.

Sat, August 8 2020 18 Av 5780