TORAH READING FOR 29 NISAN 5782 SHMITAH April 29-30, 2022
From Reform Judaism https://reformjudaism.org/torah/portion/acharei-mot-ii
Acharëi Mot II (אַחֲרֵי מוֹת II — After the Death [of the Two Sons of Aaron]) – Leviticus 18:1-30
The Eternal One spoke to Moses, saying: Speak to the Israelite people and say to them: I the Eternal am your God. – Leviticus 18:1-2
- Moses condemns the sexual practices of some neighboring peoples. Certain forms of sexual relations are prohibited. (18:1-30)
Ashkenazi: Ezekiel 22:6-19 [historic: I Samuel 20:18-42] Sephardi: Ezekiel 22:6-16
Shabbat Machar Chodesh [Iyar]
From Reform Judaism https://reformjudaism.org/torah/portion/acharei-mot-ii
Seeing the Other in Ourselves: Cultivating Empathy Beyond Difference
By: Rabbi Emily Langowitz
STRUGGLING WITH TORAH and REFLECTION
You can read this week’s Torah Portion at https://www.sefaria.org/Leviticus.18.1-18.30
From “The Torah / A Women’s Commentary” edited by Dr. Tamara Cohn Eskenazi and Rabbi Andrea L. Weiss, Ph.D.
אחרי מות Acharei Mot – Leviticus 16:1-18:30
Boundaries of Rituals: The Sanctuary and the Body by Rachel Havrelock, p.679
At the root of parashat Acharei Mot (“after the death [of]”) is the question of change. How is it that a person undergoes a transformation? What does it mean and how does it change her orientation to the Divine? The priestly writers also wonder how the people of Israel can undergo a collective change. The answer they provide is that change comes about through properly performed ritual. The priestly writers credited with much of Leviticus… advocate constant change. According to them, the body itself is an ongoing process of flux.
Fascinated with the body and the body politic, the priests speculate that both have the potential to reach purity and optimal holiness. The converse is also true–the body can become impure and the community tainted by transgression. Neither the state of impurity nor the state of purity is eternal. Both are timebound and set within a spectrum of gradations between purity and impurity. Priestly ritual mediates between these states, and it demarcates them so that individual and community alike can know where they stand in relation to God and to others.
The body is not at fault for entering the state of impurity, which can be reversed through time and water. As it develops, priestly thought comes to consider the states of purity and impurity as larger than the physical body and affected by moral transgressions as well. This parashah combines two strata of priestly thought that modern critical scholars label as “P” for the Priestly School (Leviticus 16) and “H” for the Holiness School (Leviticus 17-18). The holiness of the sanctuary most concerns the P source, whereas the sacred nature of the land most concerns the H source. Both sources grant contaminating and purifying power to blood. Whereas Leviticus 16 attends to transformation, Leviticus 17 stipulates how people should introduce holiness into their diet.
Women must read and write themselves into the holy community presented in the H source. When Leviticus 18 specifically mentions women, it is in terms of the dangerous and potentially contaminating force of their sexuality. They are figures in the household whose bodies require policing. Leviticus 18 circumscribes the bodies of female relatives as forbidden, thus setting up a system of protection within the domestic domain. At the same time, these safeguards designate women as extensions of their husbands, brothers, and grandfathers and thereby restrict them. Such techniques are classic means of limiting women’s freedom.
Another View – by S. Tamar Kamionkowski, p. 694
Leviticus 18 lists twelve categories of females who are sexually off-limits to men, based on blood and marital connection. Strikingly, a man’s natural daughter is absent from the list (and from the parallel list in Leviticus 20). Interpreters have approached this glaring omission in a variety of ways. For example:
- Some readers argue that she is in fact included in the list. Leviticus 18:17 prohibits a man from sexual intercourse with a woman and her daughter; the rabbinic sages extended this to apply to all daughters. Others have argued that Leviticus 18:6, the introductory statement banning men from sexually approaching sh’er b’saro, one’s own flesh, naturally implies daughters. This explanation is unsatisfactory because the other relations are enumerated; the author does not explicitly identify the daughter, as he does the sister.
- Some argue that it was not necessary to write about the daughter, either because the taboo against father-daughter sexual contact was so ingrained in society that it did not need to be listed, or because fathers supposedly would never approach their daughters sexually. Some interpreters have suggested that a father would not have sex with his daughter because he would lose the ability to garner a generous bride-price for a non-virgin.
- Finally, some argue that the Torah does not legislate what one does with one’s personal property, and a daughter was considered property of her father (until transferred to another man.)
However, each of these attempts at explanation is problematic. The omission of the daughter is even more troublesome when we note that Israel’s neighbors did explicitly ban father-daughter sexual relations in their law collections; in fact, the Laws of Hammurabi (¶ 154) goes so far as to banish a man who lies with his daughter.
To this date, nobody has made a convincing argument to demonstrate that the daughter is implicitly included in the list. Our task today is to take her absence seriously. We know all too well the startling number of fathers who sexually abuse their daughters in our society. Even if we do not know the real situation for daughters in the biblical period, we must be sensitive to the current message that the daughter’s omission may have for today’s survivors and perpetrators.
COUNTING OF THE ‘ÓMER
We are in the 49-day period of Counting the ‘Ómer, which this year began Saturday evening, April 16 and continues until Shavuot, which starts the evening of Saturday, June 4. The ‘Ómer is counted each evening.
Today, Friday, day 14 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. If after the first six days, one also includes the number of weeks that one has counted. For example:
“Hayom arba’ah ‘asar yom, shehëm sh’nëi shavu’ot la‘Ómer/ba‘Ómer.”
“Today is 14 days, which is two weeks 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 two selections from the third chapter.
From Sefaria https://www.sefaria.org/Pirkei_Avot.3
2: Rabbi Hanina, the vice-high priest said: pray for the welfare of the government, for were it not for the fear it inspires, every man would swallow his neighbor alive.
12: Rabbi Ishmael said: be suppliant to a superior, submissive under compulsory service, and receive every [person] happily.
ROSH CHODESH IYAR
Begins at sundown Saturday, April 30 and ends at nightfall Monday, May 2, 2022. Iyar is the second month of the Hebrew calendar and has 29 days. We continue Counting the ‘Ómer throughout the month of Iyar.
From “Mishkan T’filah / A Reform Siddur”:
ROSH CHODESH IYAR – 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 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, 29 Nisan through 5 Iyar, we lovingly remember:
Cousin of TKH President Dr. Sam Caron
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, April 29, 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 – Acharëi Mot II (triennial part) Lev. 18:1-30
Time: April 29, 2022 06:00 PM Arizona
Shazoom – Erev Shabbat Service
Time: April 29, 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!
PS – upcoming important dates:
Yom HaZikaron (Israeli Memorial Day) 4 Iyar – May 3-4, 2022
Yom Ha’Atzmaut (Israeli Independence Day) 5 Iyar – May 4-5, 2022