Shabbat schedule - Friday - Shabbat, April 15 - 16, 2016

Halachic Times
Earliest Tefillin (latest of the week): 5:26 AM
Latest Shma (earliest of the week): 9:28 AM
for all halachic times, see

Torah Reading: Metzorah: Leviticus 14:1 - 15:33

Haftorah:* II Kings 7:3 - 20

*Note: the Chabad custom is to say the regular weekly Haftorah. The special Shabbat Hagadol Haftorah is only said when Shabbat Hagadol falls on Erev Pesach.

Shabbat Candle Lighting: 7:17 PM

Shabbat ends: 8:20 PM

Shabbat Hagadol

Torah for the Times
By Rabbi Heschel Greenberg


It's Like This

Before the Jews entered into the Promised Land they were told that they would confront a rather bizarre phenomenon: "When you come to the Land of Canaan, which I am giving you as a possession, and I will place tzara'at-lesions on houses in the land of your inheritance."

When this occurred, the Torah continues, "The owner of the house should inform the priest, saying, "There appears to me to be something like a lesion in my house." At that point, the priest would examine the house and would have to determine if it was indeed a real lesion. If it was ultimately determined that it was a real lesion, those stones that were infected had to be removed and cast away outside the city.

On the verse that describes the home-owners statement to the priest: "There appears to me to be something like a lesion," Rashi comments on the use of the word, "like," and makes the following observation: "Even if he were a Torah scholar, and knew that it was definitely a lesion, he should still not state categorically, "I saw a lesion." Rather he should say, "Like a lesion."

On the face of this comment it appears to be a lesson in modesty and prudent behavior. Even if you are sure of something, don't be rash and arrogant in stating unequivocally that it is so. If, however, this was the sole message contained in the use of the qualifying word "like," why did the Torah first allude to this idea in the middle of Leviticus, and specifically with regard to the laws of the lesions of the house?

A house is a structure that makes for a civilized and comfortable existence. Metaphorically, a house represents the structures that have been created by our parents, teachers and forebears - the "structures," both literally and figuratively in which we dwell and which provide us with emotional stability. Family, marriage, religion, government and education are some of the basic structures within which we flourish. In this vein, to be homeless is to be bereft of the institutions that provide for order and stability in our lives. 

As the Jewish people were about to enter a new phase of their existence, as they were going to move into new home Israel, they were forewarned that they might find some of the stones of the structures to be contaminated and ill suited for their spiritual development. If it turned out to be that way, the infected stones would indeed have to be replaced. One needs to know that frequently our structures are built on a combination of influences. Some are solid and positive, while some are defective and need to be replaced pr redirected.

But when we start to assess the parts of our house that appear to be infected, we should always remember that we cannot make the judgment ourselves. Vested interests can taint our perceptions. We need the assistance of an outside authority-the kohain-priest, a person who our Sages say personified the trait of kindness-who will not be overzealous in demolishing part of our structure, and who will be simultaneously objective enough to make the determination that some parts of our home might indeed need replacement.

The Passover Seder actually means "order." Why is Passover the only Holiday that is introduced with a service that is so delineated and structured, as to be called a Seder? Passover is the birth of the Jewish people. It is when we were initiated into nationhood. And every year the spiritual dynamic of birth is recreated. In order to grow properly from the state of infancy we must have a mold and system that keeps us from developing wildly. And while all of life must have a structure and discipline, it is at life's beginning, or at the beginning of a new cycle, that cries out for structure and order. The Passover Seder performs this service.

As we get ready for entering into this year's seder, we are reminded of the fact that we are presently situated at the juncture of entering into the Messianic Age. Our challenge now is to find the right order that will house our new existence. While we have already been provided with most of the "stones" of this house, we have to be prepared to have some of them removed and replaced with cleaner and more suitable ones. To this end, we cannot rely on our own judgment in either direction; to retain or reject. All of us require mentors and true friends who have the proper balance of closeness and distance to make their evaluation objective and compassionate.

Moshiach Matters:

Now is a time when we must light up the candles of the Jewish people in this era of exile. The cumulative legacy of all the positive activity of the previous generations is granted us; now all that is necessary is to kindle the flame and make sure that it "rises up on its own accord." Our generation has the potential to elevate the service of all the previous generations. We will be the last generation of exile, and the first generation of the Redemption, and in this way, bring redemption to all the Jews of the previous generations.