17 Mar Rabbi Hillel Skolnik’s Torah Spark for Parashat Vayikra/Shabbat Zachor 5776
This Shabbat we read from Parashat Vayikra as well as the special maftir portion for Shabbat Zachor, the Shabbat immediately preceding the holiday of Purim. While the verses and chapters of Vayikra offer instruction on what are new commandments – the different sacrifices that were to be offered in the newly constructed Tabernacle – the reading for Shabbat Zachor, from the book of D’varim, is a reminder to the Israelites of a commandment that had been issued some forty years earlier after the Amalekites attacked the Israelites soon after they crossed the Sea of Reeds. This pairing of new instructions with a serious reminder of something taught long ago teaches us the lesson that even when receiving new instruction it does not mean that we can ignore or forget that which came before it. It often seems as though life teaches us new and important lessons along the way, and in this technological age we constantly need to learn new things just to keep up. But what we learn this week is that knowledge can only bring us true fulfillment if it is used in conjunction with what we’ve learned in the past, not in place of it.
Rabbi Hillel Skolnik