MARCH BIRTHDAYS, ANNIVERSARIES, AND SIGNIFICANT EVENTS
Mazal Tov – Mazal Bueno to all those celebrating a birthday, anniversary, or significant event during the Month of March. If we were together at Temple Kol Hamidbar, we would extend a Tallit over you, say 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 Reform Judaism https://reformjudaism.org/torah/portion/vayikra
Vayikra (וַיִּקְרָא — [God] called out) – Leviticus 1:1-5:26
The Eternal One called to Moses and spoke to him from the Tent of Meeting, saying: “Speak to the Israelite people and say to them: When any of you presents an offering of cattle to the Eternal: You shall choose your offering from the herd or from the flock.” – Leviticus 1:1-2
God instructs Moses on the five different kinds of sacrifices that were to be offered in the sanctuary:
- The olah or “burnt offering” was a voluntary sacrifice that had a high degree of sanctity and was regarded as the “standard” offering. The entire animal, except for its hide, was burned on the altar. (1:1-17)
- The minchah or “meal offering” was a sacrifice made of flour, oil, salt, and frankincense that was partly burned on the altar and partly given to the priests to eat. (2:1-16)
- The zevach sh’lamim or “sacrifice of well-being” was a voluntary animal offering from one’s herd, sometimes brought to fulfill a vow. (3:1-17)
- The chatat or “sin offering” was an obligatory sacrifice that was offered to expiate unintentional sins. This offering differs from the others in the special treatment of the blood of the animal. (4:1-5:13)
- The asham or “penalty offering” was an obligatory sacrifice of a ram that was required chiefly of one who had misappropriated property. (5:1-26)
HAFTARAH – Shabbat Zachor (“Sabbath [of] Remembrance”)
Ashkenazim: I Samuel 15:2-34 and Sefardim: I Samuel 15:1-34
Connection to the Special Sabbath
On Shabbat Zachor, the Sabbath just before Purim, Jews read Deuteronomy 25:17–19, which instructs Jews: “Remember (zachor) what Amalek did” in attacking the Israelites. The haftarah for Shabbat Zachor, 1 Samuel 15:2–34 or 1–34, describes Saul’s encounter with Amalek and Saul’s and Samuel’s treatment of the Amalekite king Agag. Purim, in turn, commemorates the story of Esther and the Jewish people’s victory over Haman’s plan to kill the Jews, told in the book of Esther. Esther 3:1 identifies Haman as an Agagite, and thus a descendant of Amalek. 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 turn descended.
STRUGGLING WITH TORAH and REFLECTION
You can read this week’s full Torah Portion at https://www.sefaria.org/Leviticus.1.1-5.26
From Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vayikra_(parashah)
Vayikra (וַיִּקְרָא — Hebrew for “and He called”) – Leviticus 1:1-5:26
The parashah lays out the laws of sacrifices (קָרְבָּנוֹת, korbanot).
In Critical Analysis
From “The Torah / A Women’s Commentary” edited by Dr. Tamara Cohn Eskenazi and Rabbi Andrea L. Weiss, Ph.D.
ויקרא Vayikra – Leviticus 1:1-5:26
A Call to Approach God by Tamara Cohn Eskenazi, pp.569-570
Parashat Vayikra (“and [God] called”) introduces one of the most challenging texts for contemporary readers. This portion begins the instructions on how to approach God by means of sacrificial offerings. Animal sacrifices are foreign to most modern readers and offensive to many. They were, however, integral to most recorded worship practices in the ancient Near Eastern and Mediterranean regions. Sacrifice continued well into the Common Era as the major way to approach the gods and to thank or appease them. Provisions for animal sacrifice are also included in the Koran, the sacred text of Islam.
Scholars of religion, attempting to understand the practice of animal sacrifice in the ancient world, suggest a number of possible explanations for why the practice endured. The rationale most frequently expressed in extra-biblical sources is that gods need to be fed as well as propitiated. Furthermore, life and fertility are gifts from the gods–gifts for which humans must show appreciation by offering something precious in return. In agricultural societies, the intimate connection between livestock and persons fostered an understanding that certain domestic animals could substitute for a human life. While these suggested explanations pertain to explicit reasons, some scholars link the pervasiveness of sacrifices in antiquity with a community’s unacknowledged desire to reduce violence. Ritual slaughtering of animals as opposed to random killings, the explanation goes, would channel people’s aggression into a socially constructive function and away from other forms of violence.
Israelite religion officially rejected an older idea that God requires sustenance like human beings. Nevertheless, it kept the practice of offering sacrifices as a way of serving God. The Hebrew word usually translated as “sacrifice,” korban, implies coming close to God (the root k-r-b that forms korban also means “to come near”) and is better translated as “near-offering.” One underlying rationale for many biblical sacrifices is to express gratitude for one’s good fortune; another rationale is that it is a means of returning the best to God–much like the payment of rent to a venerable landowner. In addition, certain sacrifices are aimed at helping people deal with the guilt of wrongdoing and with the impurity of sin, so that Israel would be on good terms with their Deity.
Sociologically speaking, sacrificial rites in antiquity served to bind community by providing a common meal that made scarce and costly meat available to many. Certain sacrifices functioned like a neighborhood barbecue celebrating a modern holiday: an opportunity to socialize and to eat well. Leviticus, however, seems to sanction killing an animal and eating its meat only as part of a sacrificial offering.
Although sacrifices form the major focus of this parashah, the concluding section expresses a deep concern with social and economic justice (see 5:20–26). Defrauding another person constitutes a sin against God; yet one must make amends to the injured party before offering a sacrifice to God.
The legislation in this parashah applies equally to Israelite women and men. Its terminology is pointedly gender inclusive, implying that women are expected to bring offerings. A later passage, Leviticus 12:6–8, explicitly addresses a situation in which a woman must bring two of the sacrifices mentioned in this parashah. Other biblical texts also describe women’s participation in sanctuary-centered activities. In I Samuel 1, Elkanah’s wives–Hannah and Peninnah–regularly visit the sanctuary with him, as do his daughters. Moreover, he and Hannah present and slaughter the offering that she has brought there, a s payment of a vow. Many scholars hold that women’s religious activities were even more extensive than can be garnered from these texts…. Nevertheless, Leviticus authorizes only men from the family of Aaron to serve as priests in the sanctuary (see in the next parashah at 6:2).
Another View – by Carol Meyers, p. 587
All of this parashah and most of the next one contain instructions for sacrifices, offered by individuals (either women or men) and by households at the central shrine. Yet the extensive focus on communal rites of worship in this part of the Torah may create the impression that other religious practices were either non-existent or discouraged. However, that impression would be erroneous, for–as in traditional societies everywhere–religious activities carried out only by women were part of Israelite household life. Such practices were virtually invisible in the Bible. Nevertheless, archeological evidence, interpreted in light of ethnographic data and anthropological models, allows us to recognize this aspect of women’s lives in the biblical period.
The gender-specific religious behaviors of women centered on the reproductive process. Women faced the possibility of infertility, complications of pregnancy, and insufficient lactation; they were also aware of high infant mortality. Today we deal with these reproductive problems medically. But in antiquity women carried out procedures–which we might view as superstitious–that were fundamentally religious in nature. That is, women performed rituals both to avert the evil forces (like Lilith) believed to be the cause of problems and also to attract benevolent spirits in order to achieve reproductive success.
Such practices were generally apotropaic (protective.) Women might wear shiny jewelry or amulets to keep the “evil eye” away. They would tie a red thread around an infant’s limb for similar reasons, a practice that continues to this day among certain Jewish groups. They might keep a lamp burning in or near a birthing room, and they would salt and swaddle a newborn (see Ezekiel 16:4). Other practices, involving votive figurines and fertility symbols known from other ancient cultures, can also be identified. Such religious behaviors focus on the welfare of childbearing women and their offspring. No doubt women considered them necessary for the creation and safeguarding of new life. Carrying out such practices, which they believed could be effective, would have given women a sense of agency in dealing with considerable reproductive risk. This also means that they were ritual experts no less than the priests in charge of the official sacrificial regimen set forth in Vayikra….
PURIM/ פּוּרִים – from https://www.hebcal.com/holidays/purim
Celebration of Jewish deliverance as told by Megilat Esther
Purim for Hebrew Year 5782 begins at sundown on Wednesday, 16 March 2022 and ends at nightfall on Thursday, 17 March 2022. [14 Adar II]
Purim (Hebrew: פּוּרִים, Pûrîm “lots”, from the word פור pur, also called the Festival of Lots) is a Jewish holiday which commemorates the saving of the Jewish people from Haman in the ancient Persian Empire, a story recorded in the Biblical Book of Esther (Megillat Esther).
We will have a Purim spiel and celebration on Zoom starting at 7 PM that evening. An email with a link and specific meeting id-passcode for this “Puzoom” event will be sent out before then.
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 abuse, brutality, conflicts, fear, natural disasters, pandemics, tragedies, violence of all kinds especially directed at individuals and specific 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, conflict, disease, natural disasters, pandemics, tragedies, violence of all kinds, and war.
This coming week, 9 Adar II through 15 Adar II, we lovingly remember:
Marvin S. Levy
Husband of TKH member Iris Adler
Edmund Burke Harris
Father of Rachel Harris
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, March 11, 2022.
Zoom regularly updates its security and performance features. Making sure you have the latest version of Zoom, please join us online this Friday evening with wine/grape juice for Kiddush and Challah for Motzi.
Topic: Torah Study – Vayikra (triennial part) Lev 4:27-5:26
Time: Mar 11, 2022 06:00 PM Arizona
Shazoom – Erev Shabbat Service
Time: Mar 11, 2022 07:30 PM Arizona
To join 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!