Shabbat Shalom: Connection to the generations before

Mar 28, 2024 | Article

By: Renée Rockford
President & CEO

There was a ritual that my father described taking place every week just before Shabbat in his boyhood home in southern Poland. His mother would tend to the cooking and cleaning preparations for the Sabbath meal, and just before sundown, she would walk to the nearby river and gather fine white sand from the banks. Upon returning home, she would sprinkle the white sand on the dirt floor to create a clean and bright setting for the coming of the Sabbath bride.

From that story came my own tradition of cleaning the floors in my house before Shabbat. It is not the cleanliness that matters, but the yearning for connection to generations before. I never met my grandmother; my father was the eldest child in the family and the only one to survive the Holocaust.

By way of definition, “tradition” refers to the passing down of customs and beliefs from one generation to the next. A “ritual,” on the other hand, is a series of actions performed according to a prescribed order, and which is often embedded in a larger symbolic system. Both connect us through the ages to our ancestors and the precursors of both are found in this week’s parsha, Tzav, which means “command.”

God instructs Moses to command Aaron and his sons regarding their duties and rights as kohanim or priests who provide meal offerings in the sanctuary. Rashi tells us the expression Tzav implies an urging for now and for future generations. On this Shabbat, may you find joy and comfort in your connection to the generations. Shabbat Shalom.

Please email Renée Rockford at with questions or comments.