Shabbat Shavuot: community – a healing of spiritual exile

The mystical doctrine of the sefirot clearly shows that we are all connected. We just don’t always sense it. We spend our life learning through experience and observation that, contrary to the popular American slogan, we are not really “rugged individuals”, solitarily in control of our own fate. First we learn that others will tell … Continue reading

Shabbat BeHar-BeHukkotai: The Torah of Tokhekhah

COVIDלֹֽא־תִשְׂנָ֥א אֶת־אָחִ֖יךָ בִּלְבָבֶ֑ךָ הוֹכֵ֤חַ תּוֹכִ֙יחַ֙ אֶת־עֲמִיתֶ֔ךָ וְלֹא־תִשָּׂ֥א עָלָ֖יו חֵֽטְא׃ You shall not hate your neighbor in your heart. Reprove your neighbor, but incur no guilt because of them. – VaYikra 19.17 On this Shabbat we come to the end of the book VaYikra, Leviticus, and we are confronted by a difficult section of the Torah … Continue reading

Shabbat Emor: To Count and To Mourn

Our parashat hashavua this week is Emor, which contains an account of the mitzvah which is the practice of counting the Omer. וּסְפַרְתֶּ֤ם לָכֶם֙ מִמָּחֳרַ֣ת הַשַּׁבָּ֔ת מִיּוֹם֙ הֲבִ֣יאֲכֶ֔ם אֶת־עֹ֖מֶר הַתְּנוּפָ֑ה שֶׁ֥בַע שַׁבָּת֖וֹת תְּמִימֹ֥ת תִּהְיֶֽינָה׃ From the day on which you bring the omer [sheaf of elevation offering]—the day after the Shabbat—you shall count off seven … Continue reading

Shabbat Tazria/Metzora: “The One Who is Ill Shall Be Separated from the Camp”

…and other surprisingly relevant aspects of ancient Jewish text in the days of COVID-19 In years past it has been tempting to dismiss this doubled parasha in VaYikra (Leviticus) as superstition at worst and outmoded at best. Because of the focus on skin disease, we laugh at “the dermatologists’ parsha” and wait for more uplifting … Continue reading