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Sh'mini - Shabbat Parah
By Rabbi Lance J. Sussman for ReformJudaism.org
Leviticus 9:1 - 11:47; maf: Numbers 19:1-22
You Are What You Eat: The New World of Kosher Food
Thousands of years before the 19th-century saying, “you are what you eat” came into being, Judaism recognized the essential significance of food in the Jewish and human experience. Originally, without explaining “why” we should eat some, but not all types of different foods, the Torah in this week’s portion, Sh’mini (Leviticus 11), laid down a lengthy list of culinary dos and don’ts, the textual foundation of kashrut, Jewish dietary practice and law. Subsequently, the laws of kashrut were greatly expanded by the Rabbis to include food preparation in general and, especially, on the Sabbath, the full separation of milk and meat products, methods of slaughter, and a whole range of food regulations during Passover.
Tzav - Shushan Purim
Dvora Weisberg for MyJewishLearning
Private And Communal Judaism
Despite the occasional need for private expressions of Judaism, we must remember our connection to the larger public community.
Leviticus, chapter 8, describes the consecration of the mishkan, the portable sanctuary carried in the Sinai desert, and of Aaron and his sons as priests. Moses assembles the entire congregation and performs the rituals that imbue the mishkan and the priests with holiness. Then he instructs Aaron and his sons:
Vayikra - Shabbat Zachor
By Rabbi David A. Lyon for ReformJudaism.org
Gifts That Bring Us Close to God
The Book of Leviticus is not a favorite among biblical readers. If it’s any indication, Hollywood hasn’t recreated any scenes from Leviticus, like it has from Genesis and Exodus. But for all its talk about sacrifices and bodily effects, Leviticus has a lot to tell us if we lift the ancient rituals out of their ancient settings and dust them off for relevant lessons.
To begin, in Near Eastern cultures of the time, sacrifices on altars were brought to feed gods that were represented by statues of deities. People brought them animals, grains, and oils, among other gifts. In contrast, we learn in Torah that animal and grain sacrifices were brought by Israelites to create a link between the One God, God’s people, and the world.
By Beth Kalisch for ReformJudaism.org
Exodus 38:21 - 40:38
Wholeness Is Found in the Little Details
This week's Torah portion, Parashat P'kudei, brings the Book of Exodus to a close. The Israelites — who by this point in our story have been freed from Egyptian slavery, stood at Mt. Sinai to receive the Ten Commandments and the Torah, and in this week's parashah, completed the construction of the Tabernacle — are finally ready for their long years of wandering that will take up the rest of the Torah's narrative.
Vayakhel - Shabbat Shekalim
By Beth Kalisch for ReformJudaism.org
Finding Holiness in the Rare Leopard as well as the Common Bird
"I hope you are excited for the birds!" our guide said to us.
We had just arrived in Tanzania for a safari, and suddenly, I was concerned that we had been assigned to the wrong jeep. "Oh, we're not birdwatchers," I explained. "We came for the regular safari — lions, leopards, rhinos — that sort of thing." I was looking forward to this once-in-a-lifetime chance to see some of the rarest and most exotic animals on the planet. Leopards, for example, are famously difficult to spot, and the black rhino is so endangered that there are thought to be only about 5,000 left on the planet.
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