Tazriah/Hachodesh: A truly new life

Tazriah/Hachodesh: A truly new life

This Shabbat is called Shabbat Hachodesh (the month); it is not only the last Shabbat of the month of Adar; it is also the final of the four special Shabbatot that fill the weeks before Pesach. As in the previous weeks, the haftorah is not related with the Torah portion, which is Tazriah, a Hebrew term that refers to childbirth alluding to the rules for purification after giving birth which begin the portion.

Nevertheless, a common theme arises between the portion of Tazriah and the haftorah of Hachodesh and its supplementary maftir Torah reading. Shabbat Hachodesh too is about birthing – in this case, the birthing of a new nation, the people of Israel. The maftir contains the first commandment given to the Jewish people on the eve of the Exodus from Egypt: “This month shall be unto you the beginning of months; it shall be the first month of the year to you” (Exodus 12:2).

Tazriah prescribes that a mother who has given birth undergo a period of spiritual and physical cleansing. When completed, she may once again be able to participate in sacred rituals.

In much the same way, the people of Israel underwent a period of purification from its birthing, the Exodus, before reaching the Promised Land: a removal of the idolatrous habits of Egypt to enable them to build a just society and to reach to the commandments in a state of purity, which allows them to be in the presence of God as truly free individuals.

The Haggadah states that “in every generation we must see ourselves as if we are leaving Egypt.” Let us take the lessons of this Shabbat to start our own path of inner purification towards a free and happy life. Let us get rid from the impurities of hatred, envy, selfishness, grudge holding, and start a new period of love, forgiveness, and loving kindness. In this new month, let us each leave the “Egypts” that are holding us back from fulfilling the purpose of creation: to enjoy life and become partners with God in recreating His creation for the beginning. As we wish each other a happy and kosher Pesach, this Shabbat of new birthings and new beginnings should also mark the starting point for all of us to become “kosher” individuals, laboring with a free Jewish spirit for a better world every day.