Shabbat Shemini: You Can Rise Up

The fifty days between the two harvest festivals of Pesakh and Shavuot are traditionally counted. The daily count is called Sefirat haOmer, the “counting of the [barley] measure,” because in the unceasing toil of ancient agricultural subsistence, every day of the harvest was a time to count in gratitude and in hope for continuing harvest.Continue reading “Shabbat Shemini: You Can Rise Up”

Shabbat Shemini: Teach Us To Count Our Days

למנות ימינו כן הודע ונביא לבב חכמה Limnot yameynu keyn hoda’ v’navi levav hokhmah “Teach us to count our days that we might acquire a heart of wisdom.” Psalm 90.12 “What day is it?” This isolation we are practicing for the sake of public health, and the disruption of the routines that define the daysContinue reading “Shabbat Shemini: Teach Us To Count Our Days”

Shabbat Shemini: Not Why. How.

Our parashat hashavua this week brings us back to our regularly scheduled Torah text after two weeks devoted to special Pesakh Torah. We are back to the Book VaYikra, or Leviticus, and expect nothing more or less than the initiation of the mishkan (the sacred space the Israelites created in the wilderness) with the firstContinue reading “Shabbat Shemini: Not Why. How.”

Shabbat Shemini: What’s Kosher and What’s Treyf

This week in parashat Shemini the Torah sets out the law of kashrut, the ancient Israelite guide to good eating. At first glance, you may assume that you will be given a list of what’s kosher and what’s treyf. What’s fascinating is that in all of chapter 11 of the book of Leviticus the word kasher,Continue reading “Shabbat Shemini: What’s Kosher and What’s Treyf”

parashat Shemini: Tragedy

In parashat Shemini, the Jewish world’s Torah reading for this week, the long process of building the first Jewish sanctuary – the mishkan – is completed, the priests – Aaron and his four sons – are ordained, the mishkan is dedicated, and the first sacrifices are finally being brought. The Israelites are thrilled to see the work of the entire community brought toContinue reading “parashat Shemini: Tragedy”