Eternal One, Creator and Sustainer of us all,
On this Sabbath that marks the beginning of a new month,
The month called "the beginning of months" in Exodus Chapter 12,
We recall the commands to the Israelites, still in Egypt, to prepare for their first Passover.
The Torah notes that those instructions were given to them while they were still slaves in anticipation of their coming freedom.
It took a special type of faith to even consider the possibility of celebration at that time, an optimism that years of bondage would finally end.
And so they did.
Those old rules are ever new for us.
The way that we mark Passover has changed over these many centuries.
We still fight for those who are oppressed and consider bringing freedom to those who are not yet free,
And, in any way we can, we seek to provide all members of the human family an opportunity to taste liberty that they may have never experienced.
In the Torah reading for this week in Leviticus Chapter 13,
We learn that the Israelite priests assumed a special role in
Identifying maladies that appeared on the skin of community members.
Their diagnosis was not in the realm of medicine, but of spiritual purity.
There were cases in which purity was not restored.
Yet, the intention of their prescriptions for quarantine and treatment was to preserve the place of each person in the community
Even when they were facing this challenge of illness
When they needed to know that separation did not mean lack of caring and concern.
The goal was to make them spiritually pure again, if at all possible.
When we read a section such as this in the Torah,
We may see ourselves focusing on its tendency to draw distinct lines between the clean and unclean
The pure and impure.
There are situations which may demand of us to make such a stark identification.
But we know, God our Healer and Source of wisdom,
That life usually isn’t like that.
Perfection is, for us, a goal that only rarely achieve.
Purity is admirable.
Cleanliness may be next to godliness.
Striving for perfection is what we could call human.
Attempting to be sure that the motives for our actions are pure is human.
Doing all we can to assure that what we do is drenched in goodness, kindness, respect, and concern for the well-being of the community is human and, even more, it is a way we strive to be godly – to be like You.
So help us, God, to provide a way back
To people whom society does not understand but are in need of support
To those in need of forgiveness
To those who are objects of hatred
To those who face oppression
To those who have been ostracized for their good intentions
To those who want to change.
May we be like the ancient priests
Who had the responsibility to say TAMEI – impure or TAHOR –clean
But in our minds and hearts
May we be guided by your love and your compassion
So that our eyes and our perspective are directed by the knowledge
Of what it means to be human
to ever strive for the highest potential that we can muster
in all we do and in who we are.
May these ancient rules inspire us anew
To bring Your holiness into the world
As long as we live.