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March 16, 2012 / 22 Adar, 5772
Shabbat Parah

Ezekiel 36:16-38

This Shabbat, is the third of four special Shabbatot prior to Pesach. It is called Shabbat Parah. The Haftarah, taken from the prophecies of Ezekiel, is a little strange. That is to be expected coming from the prophet who brought us visions of the Merkavah, the mystical vision of the chariot as described in Ezekiel Chapter 1. Staffed by beings obviously not of this world, it brought God’s presence to our ancestors in exile. The strange apparition gave comfort for it proved that the Divine Presence had followed Israel into strange lands.

This week’s Haftarah, begins with God’s lament. “When the House of Israel dwelt on their own soil, they defiled it with their ways and their deeds. So I poured out my wrath on them…. I punished them in accordance with their ways and their deeds. But when they came to those nations they caused My Holy Name to be profaned, for the people said: “These are the people of the Lord, yet they had to leave His land.”

Once again, our ancestors displeased and embarrassed our Creator. Last week, after we read of the sin of the golden calf, God was angry. God was so angry that the Holy One threatened to destroy Israel and start over with Moses. At that time it was Moses who convinced The Almighty to relent. He said: “Let not the Egyptians say, it was with evil intent that He delivered them, only to kill them off in the mountains and annihilate them from the face of the earth.” Moses appealed to God’s self image and the message that would be left among the peoples of the ancient Middle East. Don’t rely on this God. That One will help you until He becomes angry with you and then destroy you. Moses convinced God not to start over.

This week’s Haftarah, finds Israel in exile because of their lack of commitment to the Covenant of Sinai. Like the golden calf incident, they strayed from the path God had set. Now God is embarrassed. Israel in exile has become a profanation of God’s holy name. Ezekiel demonstrates the fact that God is a learning God. God learns how to deal with Israel. Rather than threatening destruction, God responds with an act of great love. God responds with a spiritual mikvah. Promising pure water to be sprinkled upon Israel to purify them, God will return our ancestors to their homeland.

As we prepare for the Pesach, celebrating the Exodus from Egypt, Ezekiel gives hope to both our ancestors and to us. God does not seek our destruction. Rather, God desires our commitment to our covenant. Through that commitment, God will decide to grant us the future of security in our ancestral homeland for which we dream.

This week's Haftarah commentary was written by Rabbi Murray Ezring, Temple Israel, Charlotte, NC. Rabbi Murray Ezring has been the spiritual leader of Temple Israel since the Summer of 1994. A native of Rock Island, IL, he received his Liberal Arts Degree in History and Social Studies from the U. of Illinois. Rabbi Ezring received his MA and ordination from the Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS), taking his first pulpit in Oakhurst, NJ for ten years, followed by six years in Boca Raton, FL.

NEW! We welcome online comments on The Unraveller at Mentschen.org.

New Publications

Leadership - Innovation - Community
Understanding the Haftarot:
An Everyperson's Guide

In this stimulating and unusual book Rabbi Charles Simon, Executive Director of FJMC, provides the reader with the context to understand how the haftarot were organized, why they might have been selected and suggests reasons for finding meaning and value.
You can purchase it a number of ways.
Intermarriage: Concepts & Strategies for Families and Synagogue Leaders
If family members and community leaders wish to become engaged in the process of Keruv they often need to ask, "Does Keruv have an ideology and theology? And if so what is it?" Then they need to learn how to respond to intermarriage from the perspective of both gender and religion. This publication reflects the most current thinking about intermarriage to date and attempts to provide family members and community leaders with the needed understanding to effectively work with intermarrieds or potential intermarrieds.
You can purchase it a number of ways:
It's time for Build-A-Pair
The best way to teach about tefillin!

HeneniThe "Build a Pair" Program is a comprehensive and fun learning program to introduce 5th, 6th or 7th graders to the joy and mitzvah of Tefillin in Jewish life. Multiple components interplay to explore the religious significance, the construction of, and the practice of "laying" Tefillin. A comprehensive education program with videos helps the religious school teach students the meaning of Tefillin in Jewish life and practice. Students practice writing their Hebrew/Jewish names and the SHEMA (first line) to insert into pre-made wooden Tefillin boxes. Students decorate the boxes in any creative way they wish, allowing for personal expression. Students either compete or cooperate in writing a "wRAP" song to sing at a Big Event. The Big Event can be the World Wide Wrap (WWW), sponsored by the Federation of Jewish Men's Clubs (FJMC), held annually on the morning of Super Bowl Sunday. The WWW program is designed to introduce and re-introduce Jewish men [and women] to the significance of "laying" Tefillin. The "Build a Pair" student program attracts the parents to see their children in their model Tefillin sing the "wRap" songs, allowing two generations (or more!) to join in the mitzvah together, and to let the students' sing their "wRAP" song for an appreciative audience.

World Wide Wrap is Sunday, February 3, 2013
The Bar Mitzvah Wrap!

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