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Shabbat, March 10, 2018

Parah
Halachic Times (Zmanim)
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Jewish History

The Children of Israel began building the "Mishkan" (also called the "Tabernacle"--a portable sanctuary to house the Divine presence in their midst as they journeyed through the desert) on the 11th of Tishrei of the year 2449 from creation (1312 BCE) -- six months after their Exodus from Egypt, four months after the revelation at Sinai, and 80 days after their worship of the Golden Calf. The construction of the Mishkan, which followed a detailed set of instructions issued to Moses on Mount Sinai, lasted 74 days, and was completed on the 25th of Kislev; but the Divine command to erect the edifice came only three months later, on the 23rd of Adar, when Moses was instructed to begin a 7-day "training period."

During the week of Adar 23-29, the Mishkan was erected each morning and dismantled each evening; Moses served as the High Priest and initiated Aaron and his four sons into the priesthood. Then, on the "eighth day" -- the 1st of Nissan -- the Mishkan was "permanently" assembled (that is, put up to stand until the Divine command would come to journey on), Aaron and his sons assumed the priesthood, and the divine presence came to dwell in the Mishkan.

Links:
Parshah Terumah (detailed description of Mishkan with commentary)
Why It's Frustrating Having a Brain
More on the Mishkan

Chassidic Rabbi Yitzchak Meir Altar (1799-1866), author of Chiddushei Harim (a commentary on the Talmud and Shulchan Aruch), was a disciple of the Maggid of Koshnitz and Rabbi Simcha Bunim of Peshischa, and the founder of the "Ger" (Gerer) Chassidic dynasty. All his 13 sons had died in his lifetime, and he was succeeded (in 1870) by his young grandson, Rabbi Yehudah Leib Alter (the "Sefat Emmet").

Laws and Customs

The Torah reading of Parah (Numbers 19) is added to the weekly reading. Parah details the laws of the "Red Heifer" and the process by which a person rendered ritually impure by contact with a dead body was purified.

(When the Holy Temple stood in Jerusalem, every Jew had to be in a state of ritual purity in time for the bringing of the Passover offering in the Temple. Today, though we're unable to fulfill the Temple-related rituals in practice, we fulfill them spiritually by studying their laws in the Torah. Thus, we study and read the section of Parah in preparation for the upcoming festival of Passover.)

Links: The Parah reading w commentary
The Calf's Mother

This Shabbat is Shabbat Mevarchim ("the Shabbat that blesses" the new month): a special prayer is recited blessing the Rosh Chodesh ("Head of the Month") of upcoming month of Nissan, which occurs next Shabbat.

Prior to the blessing, we announce the precise time of the molad, the "birth" of the new moon. Click here for molad times.

It is a Chabad custom to recite the entire book of Psalms before morning prayers, and to conduct farbrengens (chassidic gatherings) in the course of the Shabbat.

Links: On the Significance of Shabbat Mevarchim; Tehillim (the Book of Psalms); The Farbrengen

Daily Thought

Each one of us is both the sun and the moon.

The sun is constant—every day the same fiery ball rises in the sky. But the moon cycles through constant change—one day it is whole, then it wanes until it has disappeared altogether. Yet then it is renewed, reborn out of nothingness.

So too, we learn and progress by quantum leaps and bounds, yet the timeless, constant wisdom of Torah doesn’t budge from its place. On the contrary, the more we move forward, the deeper we fathom the truths behind us.