The week after Pesach is always an emotional one at Hillel Academy. With Pesach and our communal celebration of our national emancipation barely in our rare view mirrors, we are immediately confronted with Yom HaShoa and our national mourning and rememberance of the Holocaust. As a grandchild of survivors, this day has a lot of meaning for me, and I always hope that we remember in a honorable and meaningful way. Every year we adorn our hall with a sobering memorial display. The sign on the display reads "Yizkor." We must remember. We can never forget. But how do we remember? What are we remembering?
This week, in Parshat Shmini, we will read a description of the events that took place on the eighth and final day of the consecration of the Mishkan. Moshe assembled the nation on that day and declared, "This is what G-d commanded of you. Do it and the glory of G-d will be revealed to you (9:6)." While the Torah seems to refer to the offerings which were now going to be brought on the Mishkan, the Torat Kohanim explains that Moshe told the people "You shall eliminate that evil inclination from your hearts, and you shall all be united in fear of Hashem and with the intention to serve before the Almighty."
The medrash felt the need to deviate from the simple reading of the text and assumes that the Torah was not referring to ritual sacrifice, but instead the Torah tells us that the glory of G-d will be revealed through positive actions and devotion. Perhaps, the medrash refers to a time when the Beit Hamikdash no longer exists and korbanot can no longer be brought. The medrash tells us that we will still be able to bring Hashem into our midst through serving Him even in the darkest of times.
In Parshat Shmini we are reminded that even when the Tabernacle or Temple no longer stands, the relationship between man and Hashem can still be strong. We no longer have those structures, but we have our shuls and our school. We can never forget what happened in Europe, and in that remembrance it is incumbent upon us to build a strong future. Hopefully, our thriving community, and the learning that takes place in our building every day will be a testament to our remembrance and zechut for the six million.
At Hillel Academy of Pittsburgh, we educate young men and women with unlimited capacity who compete in a superior manner in all challenges undertaken. Our students are Torah observant models of exemplary character, who love G-d, the Jewish people, and the land of Israel. To say that our students possess a love of learning, confidence and the ability to think critically, merely highlights the value of a Hillel education. What we ultimately achieve each day, and have been achieving for 70 years, is the gift of instilling each student with the foundation for a life spent actively serving and leading the Jewish community and society.