Sometimes reading the Parsha feels like doing homework, especially when it seems to get bogged down in details. Rav Samson Rephael Hirsch thought that the seemingly insignificant details are actually profound ideas if we just knew how to look at them. This module presents one amazing idea from Rav Hirsch which emerges from the granular evidence of the Parsha.
Rav Hirsch zeroes in on the first law taught in this Parsha, the terumat hadashen. Every day in the temple would begin with a priest climbing the alter and collecting the ash that accumulated from all of yesterday’s offering. The Priest then removes these ashes from the temple.
Rav Hirsch sees this process as highlighting a fundamental tension in Judaism. On the one hand Judaism is a religion of tradition and continuity. We are continuing the story began by our ancestors and see ourselves as a link in a chain that goes back centuries. This is why the first thing done in the temple is engage with the past, the ashes from yesterday’s offerings.
But living in the past is not enough. While continuity and tradition is important, Judaism demands that we renew it constantly to face the challenges of our present and future. A Judaism that belongs only in the historical ages will die. A Judaism which is vibrant and growing, which is made our own will flourish and thrive. This is why after the ashes are collected they are discarded, making room for the korbanot of today