January 17-18, 2013
In this week’s portion, Moses reunites with his family, establishes the basis for our contemporary court system with guidance from his father-in-law, and the Israelites receive the 10 Commandments at Mt. Sinai.
Leading up to receiving the Commandments, as part of their preparations, the Israelites were instructed to wash their clothes. Needless to say, I’m curious as to how much water was used / wasted (in the desert!) in order to make this possible for millions of people.
Many of us take for granted the ability to have freshly laundered clothing, while there are others who struggle to have clothing at all – regardless of its freshness.
How petty it often seems to be frustrated by coin operated machines as we long for the elusive in-unit washer and dryer… Sweaty and grimy clothes often sit for a week or two at a time before being washed – the horror!
What is it about having clean clothes that speaks to us?
Do clothes make the person? Should they?
When do we “put on our best”?
At first glance it might seem weird that the Israelites were provided an instruction pertaining to hygiene. But in reality, the focus was on preparing for a seminal moment – a moment that would inevitably be life changing. The Torah is filled with instructions around purity, and one of the ways our ancestors were instructed was to wash their clothes.
This Shabbat, reflect on how you prepare for moments you anticipate as being special or life changing. Find a meaningful way to express gratitude for the ability to wear clean clothing. Consider donating clothing (maybe socks?) to those in need.