Ah Leviticus! Even if you are only remotely familiar with the themes of the Torah, it will come as no surprise that this week’s portion begins with the first celebration of, yes, sacrifice after the seven day ordination ceremony that marks the investiture of Aaron and his children as priests in the Mishkan – the tabernacle. The sacrifice on the eighth (sh’mini) day marks the first time that the altar is used for a sacrifice on… Read More »
During Passover we read from Shir HaShirim—The Song of Songs, one of the five megillot. Each of the megillot are read in their entirety on five different Jewish holidays – which happen to come in the same calendar sequence as the books themselves – that is to say we read the first book, Song of Songs, on Passover, Ruth on Shavuot, Lamentations on Tisha B’Av, Ecclesiastes on Sukkot and the Book of Esther on Purim.
The Song of… Read More »
We enter this Shabbat with our minds on Passover which begins at sundown on Monday night. I myself am way behind on cleaning out the chametz (leavened foods) from my cabinets and I really should have cooked my matzo ball soup already. But it will happen!
The name of this week’s portion, Tzav, means “command” (using the same Hebrew root as mitzvah~commandment) and refers to God’s admonition to Moses to command Aaron and his sons… Read More »
Do you remember your very first encounter with a book as a child? Probably one that was read to you, or one with considerably more pictures than words. One of my early favorites had a squirrel in it, named Benje I think. I confess, I don’t remember the plot, but it had great character moments. Even what I cannot recall now about those early experiences with reading deeply shaped who I am today. I learned lessons about life, love, and… Read More »
The portion this week is a double portion consolidated as it is not a leap year. In the first of the two portions, Vayakhel, Moses convenes the entire people. Just as the laws of the Tabernacle end with the laws of the Sabbath, so, too, the actual building begins with a reiteration of the holiness of the Sabbath, mandating that the people refrain from work and from kindling fire on Shabbat. Moses then calls for contributions from the… Read More »
The most dramatic and memorable moment of this week’s portion comes when Moses smashes the stone tablets of the 10 Commandments in his explosive anger at the Israelites’ idolatrous building of the Golden Calf. But this year I find a hidden gem of relevant wisdom in a much more pedestrian verse from the beginning of the portion. God instructs Moses: “When you take a census of the Israelite people…each shall pay the Eternal a… Read More »