THE TORAH PORTION FOR 1 ADAR 5781 February 12-13, 2021
FEBRUARY IS JEWISH DISABILITY AWARENESS MONTH
Established in 2009, led by the Jewish Federations of North America, and observed every February, it is a worldwide effort among Jewish organizations to collaborate and raise awareness to inform, break down barriers and advance policies that empower people with disabilities and foster inclusion in our national and local Jewish community. Our Temple Kol Hamidbar facility and services are inclusive and accessible.
THE TORAH READING FOR 1 ADAR 5781 February 12-13, 2021
From ReformJudaism.org https://reformjudaism.org/torah/portion/mishpatim
Mishpatim (מִשְׁפָּטִים — [These Are the] Rules) – Exodus 21:1-24:18
These are the rules that you shall set before them. – Exodus 21:1
- Interpersonal laws ranging from the treatment of slaves to the exhibition of kindness to strangers are listed. (21:1-23:9)
- Cultic laws follow, including the commandment to observe the Sabbatical Year, a repetition of the Sabbath injunction, the first mention of the Three Pilgrimage Festivals, rules of sacrificial offerings, and the prohibition against boiling a kid in its mother’s milk. (23:10-19)
- The people assent to the covenant. Moses, Aaron, Nadab, Abihu, and seventy elders of Israel ascend the mountain and see God. Moses goes on alone and spends forty days on the mountain. (24:1-18)
II Kings 12:5-18 [on Shabbat Shekalim]; Isaiah 66:1, 23 [on Rosh Chodesh]
STRUGGLING WITH TORAH
From Wikipedia.org https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mishpatim
Mishpatim (מִּשְׁפָּטִים — Hebrew for “laws”) – Exodus 21:1-24:18
The [complete] parashah sets out a series of laws, which some scholars call the Covenant Code. It reports the people’s acceptance of the covenant with God.
The triennial reading “addresses laws of damage to crops, bailment, seduction, sorcery, bestiality, apostasy, wronging the disadvantaged, and lending[;] duties to God, judicial integrity, and humane treatment of an enemy[;] laws concerning the disadvantaged, false charges, bribery, oppressing the stranger, the sabbatical year for crops (Hebrew: שמיטה, Shmita), the Sabbath, the mention of other gods, the Three Pilgrimage Festivals (Hebrew: שָׁלוֹשׁ רְגָלִים, Shalosh Regalim), sacrifice (Hebrew: קָרְבָּן, korban), and First Fruits (Hebrew: ביכורים, Bikkurim).”
In Modern Interpretation
Professor Jacob Milgrom, formerly of the University of California, Berkeley, identified Exodus 21–23 as the Torah’s oldest law code.
Professor David P. Wright of Brandeis University argued that the Covenant Code of Exodus 20:23–23:19 was directly, primarily, and throughout dependent upon the Laws of Hammurabi.
Professor Benjamin Sommer of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America taught that an ancient reader inserted a clarifying comment into Exodus 22:24. Professor Sommer wrote that Exodus 22:24 originally read, “If you lend money to My Hebrew: עַם, am, do not act toward them as a creditor; exact no interest from them,” but because the Hebrew word Hebrew: עַם, am, usually means “people,” but can also mean “the poor” or “common folk, peasantry” (as in Isaiah 3:15; Psalm 72:2; and Nehemiah 5:1), to make clear that the second of these meanings was to be understood, a later scribe added the words “to the poor among you” immediately after Hebrew: עַם, am.
The late-19th-century German biblical scholar Julius Wellhausen conceived of early Israelite religion as linked to nature’s annual cycle and believed that Scripture only later connected the festivals to historical events like the Exodus from Egypt.
In Critical Analysis
Some scholars who follow the Documentary Hypothesis find evidence of four separate sources in the parashah. Professor Richard Elliott Friedman, of the University of Georgia, attributed the overwhelming majority of the parashah, Exodus 21:1–24:15a, to the Elohist (sometimes abbreviated E), who wrote in the north, in the land of the Tribe of Ephraim, possibly as early as the second half of the 9th century BCE. Friedman attributed Exodus 24:15b–18a to the Priestly source, who wrote in the 6th or 5th century BCE. Friedman attributed the words “and went up into the mountain” in Exodus 24:18 to a later Redactor (sometimes abbreviated R). And Friedman attributed the conclusion of Exodus 24:18, the words “and Moses was in the mount forty days and forty nights,” to the Jahwist (sometimes abbreviated J), who wrote in the south, in the land of the Tribe of Judah, possibly as early as the 10th century BCE.
In last week’s Parsha, Yitro, we read about the Ten Commandments/Words, which are the guiding principles of Judaism. The Ten Commandments deal with the relationship between the divine and humanity in the first part and the relationship between people in the next. This week, in Parsha Mishpatim, we read about some of the laws, statutes and regulations that arise from those principles.
Our ancestors and the ancients around them understood that without laws, statutes and regulations a just and peaceful society was highly improbable if not impossible. Those who believe that such rules are unnecessary can be compared to the heart telling the brain, “I don’t need you;” or the brain telling the heart, “I don’t need you.” We know very well that in order to live, let alone be healthy, we need both our brains and hearts.
While times and circumstances change, requiring us to reinterpret the basic principles and revise specific rules, eliminating them altogether leads to anarchy, bedlam, chaos and destruction. And so we are reminded in the first Parsha of Torah, B’reshith:
When God was about to create heaven and earth, the earth was a chaos, unformed, and on the chaotic waters’ face there was darkness. Then God’s spirit glided over the face of the waters, and God said, “Let there be light!” – and there was light. And when God saw how good the light was, God divided the light from the darkness. [Genesis 1:1-4]
God divided. God brings order out of chaos by separating the swirling mass into coherent bodies (land, contained water, sky), which will provide a habitat and sustenance for life. [Translation and footnote from The Torah A Women’s Commentary edited by Tamara Cohn Eskenazi and Andrea L. Weiss Copyright © 2008 by URJ Press and Women of Reform Judaism pp.5-6]
Taking together the ideas found in B’reshith, Yitro and Mishpatim, we learn that we are partners with the divine in creating a world where we can live in harmony and peace. The Divine brings order to the world and it is up to us to foster and maintain it. We must accept that the rules apply to each and everyone of us, not just the poor, powerless and persecuted.
ROSH CHODESH ADAR
Began at sundown on Thursday, February 11 and ends at sundown Saturday, February 13, 2021. Adar is the twelfth month of the Hebrew calendar. If a month has 30 days, then day 30 becomes Rosh Chodesh. The current month of Shevat has thirty days. Adar contains 29 days; and so Adar’s Rosh Chodesh is two days. Purim falls in Adar.
SHABBAT SHEKALIM / שַׁבָּת שְׁקָלִים
From Hebcal.com https://www.hebcal.com/holidays/shabbat-shekalim
Shabbat Shekalim (Shabbat before Rosh Chodesh Adar) for Hebrew Year 5781 begins at sundown on Friday, 12 February 2021 and ends at nightfall on Saturday, 13 February 2021.
Shabbat Shekalim (“Sabbath [of] shekels” שבת שקלים) read in preparation for Purim, requests each adult male Jew contribute half of a Biblical shekel for the upkeep of the Tent of Meeting. The Torah portion Exodus 30:11-16 is read. This Shabbat takes place on the Shabbat before the 1st of the Hebrew calendar month of Adar, or on the 1st of Adar itself if it falls on Shabbat. In leap years on the Hebrew calendar, when there are two months of Adar, Shabbat Shekalim is on the Shabbat before the 1st of Adar II (or on the 1st of Adar II itself if it is Shabbat).
From “Mishkan T’filah / A Reform Siddur”:
ROSH CHODESH on S– AVODAH insert FOR THE NEW MONTH p.174
Our God and God of our fathers and mothers, on this first day of the new month be mindful of us and all Your people Israel, for good, for love, for compassion, life and peace.
Remember us for wellbeing. Amen.
Visit us with blessing. Amen. Help us to a fuller life. Amen.
From “Mishkan T’filah / A Reform Siddur”:
FOR OUR COUNTRY p.516
THUS SAYS ADONAI, This is what I desire: to unlock the fetters of wickedness, and untie the cords of lawlessness; to let the oppressed go free, to break off every yoke. Share your bread with the hungry, and take the wretched poor into your home. When you see the naked, give clothing, and do not ignore your own kin.
O GUARDIAN of life and liberty, may our nation always merit Your protection. Teach us to give thanks for what we have by sharing it with those who are in need. Keep our eyes open to the wonders of creation, and alert to the care of the earth. May we never be lazy in the work of peace; may we honor those who have [served, suffered or] died in defense of our ideals. Grant our leaders wisdom and forbearance. May they govern with justice and compassion. Help us all to appreciate one another, and to respect the many ways that we may serve You. May our homes be safe from affliction and strife, and our country be sound in body and spirit. Amen.
We recite MI SHEBËRACH for the victims of brutality, abuse, fear, natural disasters, pandemics, violence, and war; for all those at home alone; for all those in need of physical, emotional, and mental healing. “R’fuah sh’lëmah” – a complete recovery!
We say KADDISH YATOM for those of our friends and families who have died and been buried this last week; those in the period of Sh’loshim (30 days since burial); those who have died in the last year; and those whose Yahrzeits/Anyos occur at this time; as well as the victims of brutality, disease, COVID-19, natural disasters, war and violence – including those who died on the assault of the US Capitol.
This week, the 1st through the 7th of Adar, we lovingly remember:
Those victims of the Shoah (Holocaust) who died at this time of year.
“Zichronam liv’rachah” – May their memories be for blessing.
TORAH STUDY AND SHAZOOM
We will meet as usual at the regular times for Torah Study and Shazoom this evening, Friday, February 12, 2021.
Zoom continues updating its security and performance features. Making sure you have the latest version of Zoom, please join us online this evening:
Topic: Torah Study – Mishpatim (triennial part) Exodus 22:4-23:19
Time: Feb 12, 2021 06:00 PM Arizona
Shazoom – Erev Shabbat Shekalim & Rosh Chodesh
Time: Feb 12, 2021 07:30 PM Arizona
To join the Torah Study and/or Shazoom click on the following link [you may need to copy it into your browser]: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/72510500854?pwd=Z3VQZWF4U1BBZytNYmh3aHFTWkFDZz09
Meeting ID: 725 1050 0854
Hint: The last character of the password is the number zero.
Today is the 212th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s birth: Happy Lincoln’s Birthday. To those of our family, friends and relatives who celebrate it: Happy Lunar New Year!
Shabbat Shalom – Buen Shabbat!