As we approach Pesach, we are reminded of the importance of cleaning our homes and hearts of both physical and spiritual Chametz and preparing for the holiday with renewed spiritual growth and commitment.
In this context, we can gain inspiration from the lessons of the opening verses in this week’s Parsha. The Terumat Hadeshen, the mitzvah of the Kohen removing ashes from the Altar from the previous day’s offerings, marked the beginning of the day’s service in the Temple. Although this daily service may seem insignificant compared to other Temple offerings, it has valuable lessons relevant to our lives.
Rabbi Shimshon Refael Hirsch suggests that this shows the importance of linking our actions to the past. We must remember where we come from and the traditions that have brought us to where we are today. However, we must also strive to bring freshness and innovation to our daily lives, always seeking new ways to connect with Hashem.
Another lesson from Terumat Hadeshen is that serious dedication to holiness often requires hard work and sometimes even “dirty work.” Living a life of Torah observance may not always be glamorous or easy, but it is essential to our spiritual growth. The daily challenges we face are opportunities for growth and self-improvement, and we must embrace them as such.
Furthermore, removing the ashes symbolizes the need to let go of the past and move forward. The ashes represent the remnants of the previous day’s offerings, consumed by the fire on the Altar. Just as we must remove the ashes from the Altar to make way for new offerings, we must let go of our past mistakes and regrets to move forward and grow spiritually.
As we make the last preparations for Pesach and engage in the physical and spiritual cleansing it involves, the lessons of the Terumat Hadeshen remain just as applicable today as they were during the time of the Bet Hamikdash. Serving Hashem demands hard work and commitment, necessitating that we remember our origins while refusing to let the past hinder us and instead seeking novel ways to infuse freshness and creativity into our practices.
May we strive to emulate the Kohanim who performed the Terumat Hadeshen each day, working tirelessly to maintain the Altar’s purity and be inspired to bring more holiness into our lives and renew our commitment to living a life of ultimate freedom with holiness and dedication.
Shabbat HaGadol Shalom,
Rabbi Shlomo Gabay