EMOR — We spend a lot of time reminding ourselves how important it is to be kind to one another. We speak about seeing each person’s humanity and treating others the way that we would want to be treated. But what happens when that “other” is not a person but an animal? We must remember that respect for the living creatures in this world is also an important value. This week’s Torah portion includes laws about properly treating animals. The very fact that these laws exist says a lot about Judaism’s appreciation of the role of animals in our...Read More
EMOR — A great blessing one can have is the ability to give to others. Hosting guests and taking care of them is an important way to express this. Guests care much more about your attitude towards them than the expense or beauty of the surroundings. This week’s Torah portion, Emor, discusses Jewish holidays. We are called upon to celebrate these holidays joyously and always instructed to make sure we are sharing the joy with others – our families as well as guests we can bring into our home. In fact, we are taught that taking care of a...Read More
PASSOVER — Asking questions is essential to childhood. Doing one’s best to answer these questions is part of being a parent. Sometimes we are delighted by these questions, and at other times we are discomfited, at a loss as to how to answer them. Whichever it is, we know how important it is for our children to keep on asking questions. This coming week is time for the yearly Passover seders. The Torah and the rabbis who shaped the seders placed children’s questions at the heart of the seder. Not only are the “Four Questions” designed to specifically engage...Read More
TZAV — Jewish learning is a continuous process of discovering the richness and relevance of our tradition. Many people think learning can stop when school stops. Stopping Jewish studies after 13 is all too common. This week’s Torah portion, Tzav, instructs that a small fire must burn permanently on the Altar represent the desire within each of us to connect to something bigger and higher, just as a fire always reaches upwards. This small flame also reminds each of us that we have a spark to learn and improve within us. It is our responsibility to nurture our spark...Read More
VA-YIKRA — We all live with rituals. Whether it’s the time and place we brush our teeth in the morning or singing our children goodnight songs, rituals provide the infrastructure by which we live our lives. Without rituals, without certain daily repetitions of consistent behavior, our lives would be unbearably chaotic. This week we begin the book of Leviticus. This portion and in fact much of the book of Leviticus is full of details about ritual, especially those related to how and when to bring sacrifices for worship. While prayer long ago replaced sacrifice in Jewish tradition, sacrifices were the expression of...Read More
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