MAY BIRTHDAYS, ANNIVERARIES, AND SIGNIFICANT EVENTS
Mazal Tov – Mazal Bueno to all those celebrating a birthday, anniversary, or significant event during the Month of May. If we were together at Temple Kol Hamidbar, we would extend a Tallit over you, recite a special prayer for you, and recite the following blessing (cf Num. 6:24-26):
- May the Eternal One bless you and protect you!
- May the Eternal One deal kindly and graciously with you!
- May the Eternal One bestow favor upon you and grant you peace!
KËIN YEHI RATZON (Let it be so!)
From ReformJudaism.org https://reformjudaism.org/torah/portion/bhar-bchukotai
B’har – B’chukotai (בְּהַר – בְּחֻקֹּתי — Hebrew for “On Mount [Sinai] / My Laws”) – Leviticus 25:1-27:34
The Eternal One spoke to Moses on Mount Sinai: “Speak to the Israelite people and say to them: When you enter the land that I assign to you, the land shall observe a sabbath of the Eternal.” – Leviticus 25:1-2.
If you follow My laws and faithfully observe My commandments, I will grant your rains in their season, so that the earth shall yield its produce and the trees of the field their fruit. – Leviticus 26:3-4
- God instructs Moses to tell the Israelites that in every seventh year, the land shall observe a Sabbath of complete rest: Fields should not be sown and vines should not be pruned. (25:1-7)
- After forty-nine years, a jubilee year is to be celebrated when all the land that had been sold during that time should be returned to its original owners and slaves are to be freed. (25:8-55)
- God instructs Moses to tell the Israelites not to make idols, to keep the sabbath, and to venerate the sanctuary of the Eternal. (26:1-2)
- God promises blessings to the Children of Israel if they follow the law and warns about the curses that will befall the people if they do not observe God’s commandments. (26:1-46)
- Gifts made to the Sanctuary whether by conditional vows or by unconditional acts of pious gratitude are discussed. (27:1-34)
These Parshiot end the Book of Leviticus. Upon completing a book of Torah Ashkenazi Jews shout “Chazak! Chazak! Venit-chazëk” which is translated as “Be strong! Be strong! And may we be strengthened!” The Sephardic custom is to say “Chazak U’baruch” (“strength and blessing”) at the end of every single individual Torah reading; the response is “Chazak Ve’ematz” (“be strong and have courage” from Deut. 31:23) or “Baruch Tihiye” (“may you be blessed.”)
STUGGLING WITH TORAH
The triennial reading is Ex 25:39-26:46. At the Temple Sinai Tuesday Morning Minyan the Darshan (דַּרְשָׁן or דַּרְשָׁנִית – Hebrew for “deliverer of the d’rash”) pointed out that this week’s double portion contains laws, rules and famous passages which “God gave to Moses on Mount Sinai” directly. They are the basis for and “create a social safety net.”
In the part from B’har, kinsmen who become indentured are to serve until the jubilee year. Slavery is permitted; slaves are to be freed under specified conditions. In the part from B’chukotai, worship of idols is forbidden, and honoring Sabbaths and the sanctuary are commanded. God promises blessings including rain if the people follow the law and warns of curses worse than the ten plagues that will befall them if they fail to do so.
REFLECTION – Shemitah and Yovel/Sabbatical and Jubilee Years
From Orthodox Union.org https://www.ou.org/judaism-101/resources/shemitah-2/
There is a seven-year cycle and a related fifty-year cycle in the Jewish Calendar. The Shemitah Year, the Sabbatical Year, is each seventh year, and the Yovel, the Jubilee Year, is each fiftieth year.
The Shemitah Year, the seventh year, is analogous to the seventh day, the Shabbat, in that it is a “year of rest” for the Land. No planting or harvesting may be done that year; the population has to rely on the produce of the sixth year for three years, including the eighth, because no planting is permitted in the seventh, which the [Eternal One] promises to supply with abundance (Leviticus 25, 20-21).
In Leviticus (25,20), we find “And if you ask, ‘What will we eat in the seventh year; we haven’t planted or harvested our grain?’ ” Hashem answers (Lev. 25,21) “I will command my blessing for you in the sixth year, and the Land will produce (sufficiently for) three years!”
Here too is an analogy to Shabbat, as celebrated initially by the Jewish People in the desert. There G-d provided for them on Friday, Erev Shabbat, a double portion (the origin of using “lechem mishne,” a double portion of challah) of “manna,” the miraculous food which the People found on the ground each morning, protected within layers of dew (the origin of the custom of covering the challot with a special challah cover), each day but on the Shabbat.
The Yovel is the fiftieth year; it occurs the year after seven cycles of seven years. With regard to agriculture, it is treated as a Shemitah year. Thus, the forty-eighth year must support, first of all, its own needs, plus those of the 49th, the 50th and the 51st years – a total of four years!
The Jubilee Year has some special laws:
- All slaves were to be set free in the Yovel Year. A Biblical inscription to this effect was inscribed by the founding fathers of the United States of America on the Liberty Bell, which is now displayed in Philadelphia. The text reads, “And thou shalt proclaim liberty in the Land for all its inhabitants.” (Lev. 25,10)
(Incidentally, many of the Founding Fathers were quite familiar with the Hebrew Bible and, according to one account, actually considered adopting Hebrew as the National Language. It is difficult to imagine the profound impact that such a decision would most probably have had on the national character!)
- All sales of land were returned to the original owner in the 50th year. Thus, there were only leases of property for periods up to 49 years; there were no sales “in perpetuity” of parcels of land in the Land of Israel. “For the Land is Mine; you are only temporary residents and settlers together with me. (Lev. 25,23)”
COUNTING THE ‘ÓMER https://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/how-to-count-the-omer/
We continue in the 49-day period of Counting the ‘Ómer, which began Sunday evening, March 28 and ends with Shavuot, which starts the evening of Sunday, May 16. The ‘Ómer is counted each evening.
Today, Friday, day 41 begins this evening at sundown. Before the ‘Alëinu, after stating that one is ready to count the ‘Ómer, the following blessing is said:
Baruch atah Adonai Elohëinu Mélech ha’olam, asher kid’shánu b’mitzvotav, v’tzivánu ‘al S’firat Ha‘Ómer.
Blessed are you, Adonai our God, Ruler of the Universe, who has sanctified us with your commandments and commanded us to count the ‘Ómer.
After the blessing, one recites the appropriate day of the count. For example:
“Hayom echad v’arbaim yom, shehëm chamishah shavuot v’shishah yamim la‘Ómer/ba‘Ómer.”
“Today is forty-one days, which is five weeks and six days of/in the ‘Ómer.”
PIRKË ‘AVOT – Ethics of the Fathers
From Pesach to Shavuot on each Shabbat some study a chapter a week from Pirkë ‘Avot. Following are a few selections from the fifth chapter.
From Sefaria.org https://www.sefaria.org/Pirkei_Avot.6
6: Greater is learning Torah than the priesthood and than royalty, for royalty is acquired by thirty stages, and the priesthood by twenty-four, but the Torah by forty-eight things [read the list of 48 in this saying at Sefaria.org].
YOM YERUSHALAYIM (Jerusalem Day) – יוֹם יְרוּשָׁלַיִם
From Hebcal.com https://www.hebcal.com/holidays/yom-yerushalayim-2021
Yom Yerushalayim, a minor holiday, commemorates the reunification of Jerusalem and the establishment of Israeli control of the Old City in June 1967. It begins the evening of Sunday, May 9 and ends in the evening of Monday, May 10, 2021.
ROSH CHODESH SIVAN – רֹאשׁ חוֹדֶשׁ סִיוָן
Begins at sundown on Tuesday, May 11 and ends at nightfall on Wednesday, May 12, 2021. Sivan is the third month of the Hebrew calendar and has thirty days. Shavuot takes place in Sivan.
From “Mishkan T’filah / A Reform Siddur”:
ROSH CHODESH – FOR THE NEW MONTH p.519:
Our God and God of our ancestors, may the new month bring us goodness and blessing. May we have long life, peace, prosperity, a life exalted by love of Torah and reverence for the divine; a life in which the longings of our hearts are fulfilled for good.
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 especially against all minority communities including us, and war; for all those at home alone or lonely; 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, pandemics, natural disasters, war and gun violence.
This coming week, the 26th of Iyar through the 3rd of Sivan, we lovingly remember:
TKH Memorial Board, Founding Member
Those victims of the Sho’ah (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, May 7, 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 – Triennial Reading Lev. 25:39-26:46
Time: May 7, 2021 06:00 PM Arizona
Shazoom – Erev Shabbat Service
Time: May 7, 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.
Shabbat Shalom – Buen Shabbat!
And Happy Mother’s Day – ¡Feliz Día de las Madres!