President’s Message – March 2011
Recapturing our Calendar
Do you know when the moon will rise tonight? When the sun will set and rise today? Our ancestors were much more attuned with the changing of the seasons, the darkness and light of the day. They were partially more connected with the natural changes of the world and of their own bodies and lives because the Jewish calendar is attuned to these changes.
In this month of March 2011, Adar I and II 5771, on 4 special shabbatot, Friday nights and Saturdays, we will be following a calendar of seasonal change. On March 5th, Shabbat Shekelim, we will be celebrating our community’s financial leaders, members of committees or on the board of directors, who have been concerned about maintaining our budget and preparing for our financial future. The torah reading for that Shabbat service will feature the rules for collecting shekels for maintaining the tabernacle in the desert. Shabbat Shekelim March 5th will be a busy morning for we will have Bible and Bagel at 9:30 am before the service and a lunch honoring our shekelim supervisors after noon.
The new moon (rosh hodesh) of Adar II rises on Sunday and Monday evening, March 6 and 7. We say that when Adar comes, joy increases. Within Adar, during this leap year Adar II, Purim, perhaps the most comic of Jewish holiday, arrives with the full moon.
On Saturday morning, March 19, we will be reading in the Torah the commandment to remember to blot out the name of Amalek from our national memory. Amalek were the people who attacked the stragglers at the end of the line – the weak, young, and old – when our people left Egypt. Shabbat Zachor (remember) is the shabbat before Purim, which arrives on March 20th this year. Haman, the villain in the Purim story, is said to be of the tribe of Amalek. Some blot out Haman’s name by writing it on the soles of their shoes and stomping every time his name is spoken. Additionally, spring, at long last, will arrive at 7:21 that evening.
On Saturday morning, March 26, the mystical story of the red heifer will be read from the Torah. A pure red heifer’s ashes were distilled to be used in cleansing rituals in the tabernacle. Some say that Shabbat Parah (Cow-Heifer) is the start of the cleansing rituals, spring cleaning before Pesah. Finding the red heifer, one with no spots, discoloring, or blemishes, is important for some mystics in the world. Some believe that the heifer ashes will be needed to cleanse the rebuilt Temple, a necessary condition for the coming of the messiah.
On Saturday morning, just after March, April 2, we will celebrate the coming of the month of Nisan. Pesah is soon to arrive, with the full moon. Shabbat HaHodesh, the Shabbat of the month, was the traditional day the Rabbi would give one of the longest sermons, this time designed to prepare the community for Pesah.
We have much to celebrate in the coming month. Please join us at the synagogue to mark the passing of the seasons and the coming of spring. Happy and healthy Adar II and Purim.