Sabbath of Renewal

Mar 8, 2017Torah Commentary, Torah to Go

This Shabbat is special because it is Shabbat HaChodesh (Sabbath of the New Month), which precedes Nisan, the first month of the Jewish year.  Hasidic tradition calls this Shabbat LeHitchadeish (Sabbath of the Renewal) because of the haftarah, from Ezekiel 45-6, which shows us an entrance to the inner world, through which we may find a new beginning.  So as we approach Shabbat this week, it is perfectly appropriate to mediate on the renewal of ourselves and of others, so that we might rediscover the meaning of purpose in our lives and in the life of this community.

RASHI lights the way for us to use the words from this portion as our guides.  He defines “skill” (chochmah) as what a person learns from others, “ability” (tvunah) as the result of one’s own insight and experience, and “knowledge” (da’at) as divine inspiration, ideas that suddenly come to a person from an unknown source.

Chochmah: what a person learns from others. When we are young, we grow towards the light, and openly allow ourselves to be influenced by the ways and wisdom of those around us, whether they are similar to us or different in viewpoint, identity, or place of origin.

Tvunah: the result of one’s own insight and experience: As we grow in strength and maturity, the capacity to rely on one’s own core beliefs and practical knowledge of the world is and essential part of a full and stable life.

Da’at: divine inspiration, ideas that suddenly come to a person from an unknown source.  As we grow in wisdom, we come to understand that we really are not the center of the universe, and the potential for joy and insight that emerges is as vast as the unknown.

Those words are in our double Torah portion. You can also find them in the weekday Amiday, in which we pray to be blessed by God with these qualities (among others). The Amidah is so central to our communication with the divine that it is called, in rabbinic texts, HaTefilah, The Prayer.  May these words in the Amidah serve you as a source for daily meditation on renewal, as togehter, we journey towards Sinai.

Written for and presented at Shomrei Torah Synagogue in Los Angeles, California.