Impurity. What is the impurity in our world from which we need to rid ourselves?
Tomorrow is Shabbat Parah, when our tradition invites us to think about impurity, a word and category that we never otherwise use. The word parah means cow, or heifer, and it refers to the extra Torah reading (Numbers 19) that we read tomorrow by which Israelites were able to become ritually pure after contact with the dead (tumat meit).
We do have a big problem with impurity in our world. We encounter it every day.
The text that best focuses our attention on our impurity problem is from the New Testament, John 8, the story of Jesus and the Adulterous Woman. We are going to read this piece of Christian scripture with some basic questions in mind. Do we like it? What is the moral? How does the message of this story relate to Jewish teaching? Do we want to be like Jesus in this story?
We do have a problem with impurity, and this text from a sister faith can galvanize us to think about what we do about it.