Timely Torah Readings (Tazria – 04/02/22)
Timely Torah Readings
This past Shabbat we experienced a rare confluence of events requiring us to need three Sefer Torahs. As it was Rosh Chodesh (the beginning of the new Jewish month) and two weeks before Passover, we read our regular scheduled Torah reading, a Rosh Chodesh reading, and an Exodus reading.
Our first Torah contained the regular parsha of the week, Tazria. It begins with the sacrifices a mother would offer at the Temple after giving birth to a child.
Our second reading delineated the sacrifices the nation would bring at the beginning of a new month.
The third Torah retold the events surrounding the Tenth Plague when we would finally become free from Pharoah’s domination.
As this was a Bat Mitzvah Shabbat, the Bat Mitzvah girl (Justine S.) and I were challenged to find a unifying theme that connects all three readings. After much deliberation, we found that gratitude is an element in all the readings.
While I would be hard-pressed to reproduce Justine’s flare, I’ll share elements of her speech.
Giving birth to a child is always a dangerous scenario and sometimes life-threatening. Upon the birth of a child, the mother is given time to heal and then instructed to come to the Temple and offer gifts of thanks. While not all of us have this amazing experience, we all survived it thanks to our mothers! This reading is instructing us not only to celebrate childbirth (and our birthdays) but also to be thankful for surviving the process.
We just started a new Jewish calendar month. Did we take time to be grateful for living through March and Adar II? Bringing special offerings on the new month reminds us to be thankful for having lived one more month, to not take that gift for granted.
Do we enjoy our freedom? Isn’t it thrilling not to be a slave to a tyrant, to have control over our own lives? Parshat HaChodesh reminds us to get ready for Passover to ensure that we don’t take these invaluable liberties for granted.
Perhaps the synchronicity of these readings this year wasn’t a coincidence. As we watch from afar the destruction and sufferings of the Ukrainians, aren’t they lacking these three blessings (and more)?
We’ve witnessed maternity hospitals being bombed. People are lying dead in the street, obviously not making it through the past month. And all because of one insensitive tyrant who has hardened his heart to the sufferings of millions.
While we wish for a peaceful resolution to those in Ukraine, and endeavor to help them in whatever ways we can, their situation should be an impetus for us to count our blessings.
Thankfully we have operational maternity wards. If we’re reading this, we’ve made it through March, blessed to be spying the first blossoms of spring. While we’re all influenced by Putin in one way or another, we can be grateful that we still have control over our lives and are living in our homes.
Judaism is founded upon gratitude. Normally these selections, read at different times, would drop their messages one by one. This year, more than ever, we should appreciate these blessings, along with the hope we can restore them to others when the time comes.