This week’s double parsha is a true Bar Mitzvah anniversary for me. Not only are we reading the double parsha to end the book of Shmot (Exodus), and the special maftir (extra reading, Exodus 12:1-20) read on the last Shabbat before the month of Nissan (the months that includes Pesach/Passover), but the date matches my Bar Mitzvah on the Gregorian calendar as well! In honour of this special occasion, I decided to go back to the source, and see what themes I mentioned that day in 2002. Then, I contrasted the main focus of the parshiyot (pl. of parsha) with that of the maftir. The double parsha deals almost exclusively with a re-hashing of all the details of the building of the Mishkan (Tabernacle). The maftir tells of the first mitzvah (commandment) that the Israelites were commanded as a people, that of observing each new month, followed by the narrative of the Exodus from Egypt. Thus, in the weekly reading we speak of Holy Space, while in the reading meant for the time of year we are approaching, we speak of Holy Time. Much of the reason why these parshiyot are so dense, beyond their being a repeating of what we read (more or less) a few weeks ago, is that we do not consecrate Holy Space in the form of a Mishkan or Temple any longer. Instead, Judaism consecrates Holy Space in synagogues and in our homes. Especially as Pesach approaches, we prepare our homes, both in anticipation of the holiday and at the seder, as Holy Space. It is said that the seder table is supposed to be a recreation of the Holy Space on which the Pascal Lamb was offered in Temple times. In Pesach, we are approaching a time of year that focuses intensely both on Holy Space and on Holy Time.
I am happy to have dug into the distant past and found such a timeless lesson about consecrating our space and time to derive meaning in this world, as individuals, as families, and as a community.
In time and space
We situate ourselves
In the world