Photo Credit: pixabay

{Originally posted to Rabbi Weinberg’s website, The Foundation Stone}
Debby Segura, artist of both the spiritual and physical worlds, offered the following observations: Scarlet, Purple, and Turquoise. Why these three colors? The colored textiles used in the Bayt HaMikdash are always woven with these three colors. We know these are the colors selected by Betzalel, as ordered by HaShem, the Creative Director of us all. Yet still, I’ve always wondered, why? Why three colors? And why choose these specific three colors? Yes, they are beautiful. Yes, they are regal. Still: Why?

One year, during the second Yomim Tovim of Pesach, my boys were home for the holiday and asked that I make cabbage rolls. Unfortunately, I had no green cabbage so I said I couldn’t make it for them. Then one of them looked in the refrigerator and pulled out a purple cabbage. “How about this?” he asked. Although I had never used a purple cabbage for cabbage rolls as it is typically too thick and too crisp to roll well, I decided to give it a try.


I set up a pot of boiling water, cored the head of cabbage and proceeded to dunk the head of cabbage in, removing the head from the boiling water periodically as each leaf became par-boiled and soft enough to remove. One by one, I peeled off the leaves. Stunned, I saw that each time the cabbage was removed from the water, the water became bluer and bluer. Finally the water was a true and vivid turquoise, like the blue of the techeilet or like the Israeli flag.

I called over one of the boys and showed him the color. “Mom,” he explained, “purple cabbage is classic base, or alkali, and that is the turquoise of a classic litmus test. Introduce base cabbage into hot, fairly neutral water and what you get is turquoise.” Ok, fine. I finished stuffing the cabbage rolls, made a brownish tomato sauce and poured the sauce over the cabbage rolls, and then squeezed a fair amount of lemon juice on top, cover the pan and baked it. When I uncovered the pan, I saw that the acid of the lemon juice had turned my sauce a brilliant scarlet.

As I paused to consider where I had seen these three colors grouped before, I contemplated the textiles of the Bayt HaMikdash, made of threads of Scarlet, Purple and Turquoise and I began to understand. Life can exist only where base, neutral and acid components are in true balance. For His favorite colors, I am thinking the Almighty chooses Life.

Thanks Debby. Your thoughts remind me of Carl Jung’s, “The meeting of two personalities is like the contact of two chemical substances: if there is any reaction, both are transformed.”

The Kohen serving in the Tabernacle wore the same balance of colors so that he could guide the people coming to him for guidance with the same attention to the different components of the person’s life. The Offerings were a channel for a perfectly balanced chemical reaction.

The Purim story is a combustible combination of different personalities. Each character contributes to the mix, even minor characters such as Zeresh, Haman’s wife, and Charvona The Opportunist, and each is transformed. “v’nahafoch hu,” usually translated as, “it was turned about,” can also be read as, “and all was transformed.”

Even the Purim laws speak of such transformational meetings of different personalities and chemicals. Mishloach Manot, the Gift Basket for the Purim Feast, must contain two different forms of food. We send our Mishloach Manot through a third party, adding yet another personality/chemistry to the mix.

When we accept the gift with a simple thank you, without a chemical reaction, we are missing the opportunity for transformation. Accepting the gift, or, Offering, as our part in the process leads to a chemical reaction that is potentially transformative.

Wishing each of you a Transformative Shabbat and Purim,

Shabbat Shalom,