The Promise of a New Heart and a New Spirit: <em>Lev Hadash Veruah Hadashah</EM>

The Promise of a New Heart and a New Spirit: Lev Hadash Veruah Hadashah

Mar 29, 2019 By Mychal Springer | Commentary | Shemini | Shabbat Parah

This Shabbat is Shabbat Parah, the Shabbat of the Red Heifer. The special Torah reading for this Shabbat, in Numbers 19, addresses the defilement of coming into contact with the dead. The Parah Adumah section makes clear that contact with the dead disrupts our ability to function, and that we must engage in a ritual in order to be restored into society and into proper relationship with God. And anyone who is involved with the ritual that purifies others will become impure in the process; there is no way to eradicate the impurity absolutely.

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The Spiritual Significance of the Sacrificial Cult

The Spiritual Significance of the Sacrificial Cult

Mar 29, 1997 By Ismar Schorsch | Commentary | Tzav | Shabbat Parah

Our Hebrew Scripture is a library of books with many voices, a bracing diversity of literary genres and religious opinions. This is a good week to remind ourselves of that noteworthy fact as we struggle through a double dosage of cultic prescriptions. Our parasha stipulates the tasks incumbent on the priests in administering the sacrifices that ordinary Israelites might offer at the Tabernacle. On top of that, because this Shabbat is the third of the four special Shabbatot leading up to Passover, we are treated to an additional reading dealing with the potion prepared from the ashes of an unblemished red heifer for the purpose of ritual purification.

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God As a Tragic Character

God As a Tragic Character

Apr 2, 2005 By Ismar Schorsch | Commentary | Shemini | Shabbat Parah

Ours is not the first generation to discover that we live in an imperfect world.

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Two Cows

Two Cows

Mar 2, 2002 By Lauren Eichler Berkun | Commentary | Ki Tissa | Shabbat Parah

There is a certain irony when parashat Ki Tissa falls on Shabbat Parah. In our weekly Torah portion, we read about the sin of the golden calf. In the maftir for this special Shabbat preceding Passover, we read about the ritual of the red heifer. Two cows on one Shabbat! One cow represents our complete abandonment of God a mere forty days after the revelation at Mt. Sinai. The other cow represents our ability to purify ourselves in the face of death and defilement.

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The Polarities of Judaism

The Polarities of Judaism

Apr 13, 2004 By Ismar Schorsch | Commentary | Ki Tissa | Shabbat Parah

The instructions of God to Moses concerning the building of the Tabernacle culminate with the command to observe the Sabbath. Holiness in time follows holiness in space. As the Tabernacle constitutes a sacred space in which the nearness of God is a felt experience, so the Sabbath is a portion of the week set apart to admit God into our lives. Whereas the holiness of the Sanctuary is sharply delimited and restricted in access, that of Shabbat is universally accessible. The Tabernacle is a public space, the community’s link between heaven and earth, administered by a priestly hierarchy and subject to laws of purity.

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How Now, Brown Cow?

How Now, Brown Cow?

Mar 17, 2012 By Leonard A. Sharzer | Commentary | Pekudei | Vayak-hel | Shabbat Parah

I would like to review several components of the Red Heifer ritual that I find most challenging and ask two questions: (1) Is there any way to understand this arcane ritual that has resonance in modern times?; and (2) Why do we read this passage shortly before Pesah?

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Shabbat Parah

Shabbat Parah

Jan 1, 1980

1 The Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying: 2 This is the ritual law that the Lord has commanded:

Instruct the Israelite people to bring you a red cow without blemish, in which there is no defect and on which no yoke has been laid

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