THE TORAH READING FOR 24 NISAN 5783 APRIL 14-15, 2023
From Reform Judaism https://reformjudaism.org/torah/portion/shmini
Sh’mini (שְׁמִינִי — The Eighth [Day]) – Leviticus 9:1-11:47
On the eighth day Moses called Aaron and his sons, and the elders of Israel. – Lev. 9:1
- Aaron and his sons follow Moses’ instructions and offer sacrifices so that God will forgive the people. (9:1-24)
- Two of Aaron’s sons, Nadab and Abihu, offer “alien fire” to God. God punishes these two priests by killing them immediately. (10:1-3)
- God forbids Moses, Aaron, and his surviving sons from mourning but commands the rest of the people to do so. Priests are told not to drink alcohol before entering the sacred Tabernacle and are further instructed about making sacrifices. (10:4-20)
- Laws are given to distinguish between pure and impure animals, birds, fish, and insects. (11:1-47)
Ashkenazi: II Samuel 6:1-7:17 and Sefardi: II Samuel 6:1-19
From Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shemini_(parashah)
Connection to the parashah
Both the parashah and the haftarah report efforts to consecrate the holy space followed by tragic incidents connected with inappropriate proximity to the holy space. In the parashah, Moses consecrated the Tabernacle, the home of the Ark of the Covenant, while in the haftarah, David set out to bring the Ark to Jerusalem. Then in the parashah, God killed Nadab and Abihu “when they drew near” to the Ark, while in the haftarah, God killed Uzzah when he “put forth his hand to the Ark.”
From Reform Judaism https://reformjudaism.org/torah/portion/shmini
Reimagining Reform Kashrut through Sh’mini
By: Cantor David Fair
STRUGGLING WITH TORAH and REFLECTION
For Torah Study, instead of the portion from the Book of Leviticus that is read on this Shabbat, we will read the Haftarah (a selection from the prophets) from II Samuel 6:1-19. You can read this week’s Torah Portion at https://www.sefaria.org/Leviticus.9.1-11.47, and the Haftarah at https://www.sefaria.org/II_Samuel.6.1-19
From “The Torah / A Women’s Commentary” edited by Dr. Tamara Cohn Eskenazi and Rabbi Andrea L. Weiss, Ph.D.
שמיני Sh’mini – Leviticus 9:1-11:47
Post-biblical Interpretations – by Carol Selkin Wise, pp. 630-1
a spring or cistern in which water is collected shall be pure (11:35–36). The biblical phrase “a cistern is which water is collected” (mikvei-mayim) provides the foundation for rabbinic justifications for required immersion in the mikveh, the ritual bathing pool. This phrase, mikvei-mayim, referring to an accumulation of water, also appears in Genesis 1:10 and Exodus 7:19. The Bible does not use the word mikveh by itself except in the form of a variant (mikvah) in Isaiah 22:11. There is no biblical reference to the legislated use of such pools or cisterns for ritual immersion. Since no ritual baths from the time of the First Temple have been found, scholars do not know how the earliest Israelites conducted the purifying washings that are mentioned in such places as Leviticus 15.
The Rabbis inherited from the Torah a ritual purity system that had involved both priests and laity, and both women and men; those sages assumed that the biblical commandments for ritual purification required full immersion in a mikveh (plural, mikva’ot). In biblical times, however, ritual washing could have been achieved instead by splashing, pouring (affusion), or rinsing. The range of available strategies is illustrated in Greek red- and black-figure pottery from the 6th century B.C.E. onward, where scenes depict men or women showering from spigots in a slightly stooped but standing position, using tubs and basins, or having water from large jugs poured upon them while in a crouched position. Neighboring Near Eastern cultures also had a variety of forms of purification, and there is no reason to think that uniformity was the rule in ancient Israel as well. When rabbinic Judaism eventually emerged as the dominant form of Jewish practice, however, the mikveh would become the only acceptable type of installation for ritual immersion.
Archeologists have found numerous ritual bathing pools that Jews constructed during the Second Temple period (some two thousand years ago), indicating their practice of full body immersion. Since stored rainwater was always a scarce commodity, Jews utilized water diverted from caves, springs, and rivers whenever possible in building ritual baths. The most common use of such mikva’ot during this era was purification prior to entering the area of the Temple. Rabbinic sources indicate that the Jewish court (beit din) supervised the construction, validity, measurements, and cleanliness of these mikva’ot. During Second Temple times, however, it appears that Jews had not achieved uniformity of opinion as to mikveh requirements: the pools found do not all adhere to the same configurations, and surviving texts reveal doctrinal differences.
Mikva’ot is the sixth tractate in the order T’harot (Purities) of the Mishnah. It discusses the characteristics of a valid mikveh, various ways of constructing a mikveh, and the nature and sources of the water necessary for a valid mikveh. This tractate also explains what constitutes valid immersion.
According to tractate Mikva’ot and other rabbinic sources, a mikveh must be hewn out of rock or built into the ground; it must also be made watertight, usually with plaster, since any leakage invalidates it. A ritual bath must contain a minimum of forty se’ahs (at least two hundred gallons, or more than 750 liters) of free-flowing clan water, sufficient for full immersion either vertically or horizontally. Rain or spring water is valid, as is water diverted from a river, lake, or ocean. Once a mikveh contains the minimum quantity of valid water, drawn water of any amount may be added.
Most biblical laws of purity lapsed with the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 C.E. Since that time, the mikveh has been used most frequently by women. They immerse on a variety of occasions: prior to marriage, at a specified time in each menstrual cycle, and following the birth of children. Traditionally, mikveh immersion is part of conversion to Judaism. Some authorities have encouraged men to immerse in a mikveh on the eve of the Sabbath and festivals. In accordance with Numbers 31:22–23, some Jews also immerse in the mikveh their new metal and glass vessels purchased from non-Jews.
Rabbinic efforts to justify immersion indicate that the rationale was secondary to the practice. Midrash Sifra connects the ritual immersion of a vessel to another requirement for purification, namely, waiting for the sun to set. The midrash states that just as purification is linked to the simultaneous setting of the entire sun, so purification should be understood to refer to simultaneous immersion of the entire vessel (Sh’mini 8).
SEFIRAT HA’ÓMER (Counting of the Omer) – April 6-May 25
We are in the 49-day period of Counting the ‘Ómer, which this year began Thursday evening, April 6 and continues until Shavuot (Festival of Weeks), which starts the evening of Thursday, 25 May and ends at nightfall on Saturday, 27 May 2023.
Today, Friday, day 9 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 tish’ah yamim, shehëm shavua’ ‘echad ushenëi yamim la‘Ómer/ba‘Ómer.”
“Today is 9 days, which is one week and two 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 two selections from the second chapter for this Shabbat:
From Sefaria https://www.sefaria.org/Pirkei_Avot.2
4: Hillel said: do not separate yourself from the community, Do not trust in yourself until the day of your death, Do not judge your fellow man until you have reached his place. Do not say something that cannot be understood [trusting] that in the end it will be understood. Say not: ‘when I shall have leisure I shall study;’ perhaps you will not have leisure.
12: Rabbi Yose said: Let the property of your fellow be as precious unto you as your own; Make yourself fit to study Torah for it will not be yours by inheritance; And let all your actions be for [the sake of] the name of heaven.
YOM HAZIKARON laSHO’AH v’laG’VURAH – April 17-18. 2023
Known as YOM HASHO’AH for short or Holocaust Remembrance Day, it is typically observed in Israel and Jewish communities on 27 Nisan. If the date is next to Shabbat, either before or after, it is moved back by a day or forward by a day. This year it starts the evening of Monday, April 17 and ends the evening of Tuesday, April 18. Yom HaSho’ah commemorates the six million Jews and five million others who perished in the Holocaust, and the heroism of survivors and rescuers. We reaffirm, “Never again!”
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, natural disasters, war and violence.
This coming week, 23 Nisan through 30 Nisan, we lovingly remember:
First wife of the late husband of Iris Adler
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 Friday evening, April 14, 2023. We will discuss Haftarah Sh’mini II Samuel 6:1-19.
Zoom regularly updates its security and performance features. Making sure you have the latest version of Zoom, please join us online this evening with wine/grape juice for Kiddush and Challah for Motzi.
Topic: Torah Study – Haftarah Sh’mini: II Samuel 6:1-19
Time: April 14, 2023 06:00 PM Arizona
Shazoom – Erev Shabbat Service
Time: April 14, 2023 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/Gut Shabbos!
PS – About the Book of Samuel:
From Jewish Encyclopedia
From My Jewish Learning
Timelines from Wikipedia