Shabbat HaGadol 5775: Withdraw Your Hands and Take Hold of Pesah

Shabbat HaGadol represents the internal emancipation that was the necessary precondition for the Exodus. Technically, the Israelites were still slaves on the tenth of the month, but when Moses called the elders of Israel and told them to pick out animals for the sacrifice, this was the moment when the people shifted their obedience from…

Shabbat VaYikra/HaHodesh 5775: For the Sins of the Leader

If the first two books of Torah can be understood according to their Hebrew names—Bereshit, the book of origins, and Sh’mot, the book of names (or identities), then this week we begin Vayikra, the book of calling. We discover within it a divine calling—to approach the Tent of Meeting, just as Moses did, and to…

Shabbat Parah 5775: Redemption Begins Within

Purim and Pesah are both festivals of redemption, serving as bookends in the final and first months of the Hebrew year. But Purim is by far the lesser holiday. True, the Jews of Persia escaped from Haman’s genocidal threat, but they then remained in a vulnerable position, and in the final chapters of the Megillah they…

Purim 5775–A royal dress?

Purim is our festival of contradictions and hidden meanings. This year I suddenly noticed one detail that has been hiding in plain sight—the color of Esther’s royal dress. Was it blue, or gold? The Megillah itself is maddeningly ambiguous. We read in Chapter 5, “On the third day, Esther was garbed in royalty.” The ancient…