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This Shabbos has three special designations: Parshas Parah, Shabbos Chazak, and Shabbos Mevorchim.
No sooner does the joyous festival of Purim pass, than preparations for Passover commence. In less than 30 days, we will be sitting around our seder tables.
Our rabbis teach us that 30 days prior to Passover, we have to begin to study the laws of Pesach and prepare ourselves and our homes for this great Yom Tov that marks the anniversary of our exodus from Egypt and the birth of our nation. It is in this spirit that, on this Shabbos following Purim, we take out a second Torah and read the portion that teaches us how a person who is spiritually impure, purifies himself so that he may bring the paschal offering to the Temple. While we no longer have a Temple, this teaching serves as a wake-up call, a reminder that we must prepare ourselves for this awesome day. We are here to help you make this year’s seder the most meaningful yet.
On this Sabbath we conclude the Book of Exodus, and as we do so, the entire congregation rises and proclaims "Chazak, Chazak, V`Nischazek" -- "Be Strong! Be Strong! And may we be strengthened." We beseech the Almighty to give us the strength to continue and succeed in our Torah studies and in our commitment.
We bless the upcoming month of Nissan (which means miracles). Rosh Chodesh will be celebrated on Saturday, March 17th as we begin the count-down to the festival of Passover.
VAYAKHEL - PEKUDEI - THE IMPORTANCE OF TIKUN & PRAYER
In the opening verse, "Vayakhel Moshe" (Exodus 35:1), Moses gathers the entire congregation of the Jewish people. The word "Vayakhel" gives us pause. Usually the text reads "Moses spoke", or "Moses commanded". However, that word, "Vayakhel" was the rallying call to the people to fashion a golden calf, and now the time had come to make tikun - rectify that grievous wrong. With the very same words with which the nation was enticed to sin, they are now summoned to perform the sacred task of constructing the Tabernacle. Thus, the "Vayakhel" of the Tabernacle comes to make atonement for the "Vayakhel" of the golden calf, and that is the true essence of tshuva -- to convert the sins into mitzvahs and to harness all our energies in the service of G-d.
Parshas Pekudei, (Exodus, Chapter 38) In connection with the construction of the tabernacle, we find the expression, “Ka'asher tziva HaShem es Moshe" "As G-d commanded Moshe" written eighteen times. Today, we no longer have the Tabernacle, but those eighteen affirmations of G-d’s Will remain. They have been engraved upon our souls and have spanned the centuries through the Shemoneh Esrei - the eighteen blessings of the Silent Amidah Prayer that we recite thrice daily.
Even as Moshe and the people complied precisely with all the detailed laws of the Tabernacle, so too must we be cautious that our prayers be sincere and that we recite them with proper kavanah -- concentration, so that they may invoke mercy and forgiveness for us. This message is especially urgent today, as our beleaguered brethren in Eretz Yisrael are struggling with crises after crises and we witness a terrible escalation of anti-Semitism throughout the world..
We must be sensitive to the pain of our people and intensify our prayers and cry out to our Heavenly Father for salvation.
Therefore, every aspect of the construction of the Tabernacle has to be studied so that we may realize our spiritual potential.
It is written, "And Moshe erected the Tabernacle" (Exodus, 40-18). Our sages teach that the dedication of the Tabernacle lasted seven days, during which time, Moshe erected and dismantled the Tabernacle every day. It was only on the eighth day that he allowed it to stand. At first glance, the reason for this may be difficult to understand, but therein is to be found a life-transforming teaching. Every time Moshe went through the process of erecting and dismantling, he invested us with the strength to rebuild ourselves, to learn from our failures and reach our spiritual heights. Moshe Rabbenu imparted to us a most powerful lesson - failures can be converted into growth and weaknesses into strength, and that’s what life’s challenges are all about.