The Purification of Israel

We discussed the TWO weekly Torah portions that sealed the Book of Exodus: “Va-yak’hel” and “Pekudei”. We mentioned that the main issue of these “parashot” (weekly Torah portions) is the Tabernacle and its vessels and focuses on the final set up of constructing the Tabernacle.

Normally, the “Haftarah” of these two Torah portions is found in the book of 1 Kings, in the chapters that described the final steps and preparations for the construction of the Temple (1 Kings, Chapters 7-8).

However, this year, the reading of these two “parashot” is taking place exactly two weeks before Passover (as mentioned yesterday) and according to the Jewish tradition at this time of the year it is customary to read a different “Haftarah” (weekly Prophets’ portion) that discusses purification before Passover (“Pe’sach” פסח in Hebrew) for a better spiritual preparation. The name of this “Haftarah” – and of this Shabbat in general – is “Parah” פרה (short for “Parah Adumah” פרה אדומה which literally means ‘red cow’ in Hebrew) and it refers to the red heifer that was needed for the process of the purification.

The “Haftarah” itself is found in Ezekiel 36 and describes Ezekiel’s prophecy for the future purification of Israel and the return to their Fathers’ land: “I will take you from the nations and gather you from all the countries and bring you into your own land. I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules. You shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers, and you shall be my people, and I will be your God.” (Ezekiel 36:24-29)