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.
THE TORAH READING FOR 15 ADAR 5781 February 26-27, 2021
From ReformJudaism.org https://reformjudaism.org/torah/portion/ttzaveh
T’tzaveh (תְּצַוֶּה — [You] Shall Further Instruct) – Exodus 27:20−30:10
You shall further instruct the Israelites to bring you clear oil of beaten olives for lighting, for kindling lamps regularly. – Exodus 27:20
- The children of Israel are commanded to bring pure olive oil for the ner tamid “a constantly burning light,” above the sanctuary. (27:20-21)
- Aaron and his sons, Nadab, Abihu, Eleazar, and Ithamar, are chosen to serve as priests. (28:1)
- God instructs Moses to make special clothes for the priests. (28:2-43)
- Aaron and his sons are ordained in a seven-day ceremony (29:1-29:46)
- Aaron is commanded to burn incense on an acacia altar every morning and evening. (30:1-10)
Esther 7:1-10; 8:15-17 or I Samuel 15:2-34
From Wikipedia.org https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tetzaveh
[In the Megillah, Haman is called the son of Hammedasa the Agagite.] Numbers 24:7 identifies the Agagites with the Amalekites. Alternatively, a Midrash tells the story that between King Agag’s capture by Saul and his killing by Samuel, Agag fathered a child, from whom Haman in like turn descended.
STRUGGLING WITH TORAH
From Wikipedia.org https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tetzaveh
Tetzaveh (תְּצַוֶּה — Hebrew for “you command”) – Exodus 27:20-30:10
The parashah reports God’s commands to bring olive oil for the lamp, make sacred garments for the priests, conduct an ordination ceremony, and make an incense altar. [The triennial reading, Exodus 28:31-29:18, covers detailed instructions for the High Priest’s garments including specifying that pomegranates and bells be attached to the hem of the robe to make a sound when the High Priest enters and exits the sanctuary, “so that he would not die.” This is followed by specific instructions of an ordination ceremony for priests involving various sacrifices and placing of the priests hands on the head of the young bull and first ram to be slaughtered.]
In Modern Interpretation
Exodus chapter 27
The 20th century Reform Rabbi Gunther Plaut reported that after the Romans destroyed the Temple, Jews sought to honor the commandment in Exodus 27:20–21 to light the Menorah by keeping a separate light, a ner tamid, in the synagogue. Originally Jews set the ner tamid opposite the ark on the synagogue’s western wall, but then moved it to a niche by the side of the ark and later to a lamp suspended above the ark. Plaut reported that the ner tamid has come to symbolize God’s presence, a spiritual light emanating as if from the Temple.
Exodus chapter 28
Nahum M. Sarna [the late modern biblical scholar] noted that Exodus 28 makes no mention of footwear, as the priests officiated barefoot. Carol Meyers [Professor Emerita of Religious Studies, Duke University] inferred that the priests wore no shoes on holy ground, noting that in Exodus 3:5, God told Moses to take off his shoes, for the place on which he stood was holy ground. The Protestant Theologian Walter Brueggemann concluded that the affirmation and devastating critique of Aaron live close together in the text, teaching that the affirmation, the temptation, and the critique are inherent in the priesthood and the handler of holy things.
REFLECTION – Purim
The story of Purim without any mention of God is told in the Book of Esther known as Megilat Esther or the Megillah. This year, Purim began last evening Thursday, February 25 and ends this evening Friday, February 26, 2021. For most of us, it is celebrated on 14 Adar because the Jews in unwalled cities fought their enemies on 13 Adar resting the following day.
Shushan Purim is celebrated on 15 Adar in Jerusalem and all cities enclosed by a wall at the time of Joshua’s conquest of the Land of Israel, because the Jews in the capital of the Persian Empire defeated their enemies on 13-14 Adar and rested on 15 Adar.
Although we all are obligated to hear the Megillah (Kriat haMegillah), Purim is one of the Jewish holidays that holds a special duty for women since it was a woman who saved the Jewish people. During the day of Purim we are also obligated to send food and drink gifts to friends (Mishloach Manot), give charity to the poor (Mattanot L’evyonim), and eat a festive meal (Se’udat Purim).
When Haman’s name is said during the Megillah (and elsewhere) in most traditions a loud noise is made to blot it out. However, in my late father’s Spanish-Portuguese tradition this is seen as indecorous. In most traditions, at the festive meal, it is customary to drink wine or alcoholic beverages until we can no longer distinguish between “cursed is Haman” and “Blessed is Mordecai”.
Each tradition has its Purim sweets. The most common here is the Ashkenazi triangular filled-pocket cookies called “Hamantaschen” (Haman’s pockets) or “oznay Haman” (Haman’s ears in Hebrew). In the Sefardic tradition thin fried dough called “fazuelos,” “fijuelas,” “deblas” or “orecchie de Ammon” (Haman’s ears in Italian) are eaten.
About the “Fast of Esther”: This minor fast, observed on 13 Adar before Purim, commemorates Queen Esther’s three day and three night fast before approaching King Ahasuerus (in Hebrew: Ahashvërosh) to save her people. The practice arose in the Geonic period, 589 CE to 1038 CE. Since it is not ordained by the Prophets, its observance is more lenient.
Cousin or uncle? In the Megillah Mordecai is presented both as Esther’s cousin and as an uncle. This causes much confusion for English readers. As a Sefardic Jew, however, this is less confusing because we call our parents’ first cousins, “Tío” or “Tía”, uncle or aunt. In Spanish, a first cousin is a “primohermano” or “primo” – literally, “first brother”.
Due to various factors, we are celebrating our Temple Kol Hamidbar community Purim beginning before sunset on Friday, February 26. All are welcome to join us. Commonly, we greet each other with “Chag Purim Sameach” in Hebrew, “Purim Alegre” in Ladino, “Freilichen Purim” in Yiddish or “Happy Purim” in English.
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 on January 6.
This coming week, the 15th through the 21st of Adar, we lovingly remember:
Aunt of Ida Farmer
Samuel J. Alexander
Temple Kol Hamidbar Memorial Board
Those victims of the Shoah (Holocaust) who died at this time of year.
“Zichronam liv’rachah” – May their memories be for blessing.
PURIM AND SHAZOOM – CHANGE IN SCHEDULE
Grab your disguises, noise makers and sweets!
We will observe Purim at 5:45 PM MST this evening Friday, February 26, 2021, followed by our weekly Shazoom service. Our Purim celebration will include optional costumes of your own choosing (full/partial), singing, reading excerpts from Megilat Esther, a Purim Spiel, a word game, prizes, more singing, and noshing BYO Hamantaschen!
We anticipate that our weekly Shazoom service will begin at the usual time, 7:30 PM. All are warmly invited and encouraged to attend both our Purim Celebration and Erev Shabbat Service. Torah Study will resume next week.
Zoom continues updating its security and performance features. Making sure you have the latest version of Zoom, please join us online this evening:
Topic: Purim Celebration (replaces Torah Study)
Time: Feb 26, 2021 05:45 PM Arizona
Shazoom – Erev Shabbat
Time: Feb 26, 2021 (ostensibly) 07:30 PM Arizona
To join the Purim Celebration and/or Shazoom click on the following link [you may need to copy it into your browser]:
Meeting ID: 725 1050 0854
Hint: The last character of the password is the number zero.
Shabbat Shalom – Buen Shabbat!
PS – Pesach is four short weeks away. Most Reform Jews observe Pesach for seven days, as in Israel. It begins the evening of Saturday, March 27 and ends the evening of Saturday, April 3. Others observe eight days ending Sunday evening, April 4, 2021.