Every few years we do a Pink Shabbat in conjunction with the Sharsheret organization for Jewish breast cancer awareness and support. In fact, we did Pink Shabbat once or twice before Sharsheret. It is important that students (even as they are young and feel immortal) be aware of the high rate at which breast cancer affects the Ashkenasic Jewish community (especially those of Eastern European descent). Some of us and our families have been deeply affected by this and other cancers, whether our loved ones are survivors or have fallen victim to this illness.

While prepping for this year’s Pink Shabbat I happened to read little Rivka a classic collection of Richard Scarry (his books are old classics, great for first words and early learning) that included this piece on colors.

This page reads, “Red and white make pink.” And you see the rabbit pouring red and pink into a barrel that’s pink. That’s true, (most) everyone knows that red and white make pink. But it made me think about the color pink, what it might stand for and perhaps a message about it. 

Consider these two Talmudic statements:

(1) One who embarrasses another it is as if he killed him. When people turn white, the blood drains from their face. 

(2) In Jerusalem Temple times, there was a red thread hanging in the Temple on Yom Kippur that turned white once the people were forgiven and inscribed in the Book of Life. 

Interestingly, in statement #1 red is a sign of life, and white is the sign of death. In statement #2, white is the sign of life, while red symbolizes the opposite. Either way, red and white represent the polar opposites of life and death.

And pink? Perhaps pink which is a blend of the two is about that state of life that’s in proximity to death, that has a brush with death. No one wants to have that kind of scare, may we be all spared life-threatening danger. But for those who have been there, for their loved ones, the pink state often can deepen one’s appreciation for life, see life in a deeper, more meaningful way. It’s a different type of YOLO, a deeper sense of meaning and connection to life’s purpose, to one’s mission, to family…

The good news is that we’re able to reach this pink state without the sadness, without the deep fear, without a direct brush with death, our perspective and awareness itself can give us this heightened state. Avot (Ethics of our Fathers) teaches us: “Repent one day before you die”. No one knows that day, of course, this statement can be interpreted to mean that we think pink-state at least occasionally, that we recognize the fragility of life, the preciousness of it, to treasure it always and make the most of it. Live each day as if was our fullest day to live.