TORAH READING FOR 15 IYAR 5783 May 5-6, 2023
From Reform Judaism https://reformjudaism.org/torah/portion/emor
Emor (אֱמֹר — Hebrew for “speak”) – Leviticus 21:1-24:23
The Eternal One said to Moses: “Speak to the priests, the sons of Aaron, and say to them: None shall defile himself for any [dead] person among his kin, . . .” – Lev. 21:1
• Laws regulating the lives and sacrifices of the priests are presented. (21:1-22:33)
• The set times of the Jewish calendar are named and described: the Sabbath, Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, and the Pilgrimage Festivals of Pesach, Shavuot, and Sukkot. (23:1-44)
• God commands the Israelites to bring clear olive oil for lighting the sanctuary menorah. The ingredients and placement of the displayed loaves of sanctuary bread are explained. (24:1-9)
• Laws dealing with profanity, murder, and the maiming of others are outlined. (24:10-23)
Ezekiel (Haftarah) [The Haftarah Commentary, p.299]:
Connection of haftarah and sidra:
The sidra speaks of priestly duties, and the entire haftarah is devoted to the status, practices, and privileges of priesthood.
From Reform Judaism https://reformjudaism.org/torah/portion/emor
Seeing Problematic Laws as a Vehicle to Modern Day Justice
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 Ezekiel 44:15-31. You can read this week’s Torah Portion at https://www.sefaria.org/Leviticus.21.1-24.23, and the Haftarah at https://www.sefaria.org/Ezekiel.44.15-31
From “The Torah / A Women’s Commentary” edited by Dr. Tamara Cohn Eskenazi and Rabbi Andrea L. Weiss, Ph.D.
אמר Emor – Leviticus 21:1-24:23
Post-biblical Interpretations – by Judith Hauptman, pp. 741-3
None shall defile himself (21:1–2). These verses stipulate that kohanim (priests) may not come into contact with a corpse, with the exception of close relations. The Rabbis of the Talmud later applied this list of close relatives to all mourners. That is, the relatives for whom a Jew sits shivah are those enumerated in Emor, with the Rabbis’ additions of wives and married sisters (BT Mo’ed Katan 20b). The Rabbis interpreted the clause “except for the relatives that are closest (literally ‘flesh’) to him…he may defile himself” as a veiled reference to a wife (Midrash Sifra, Emor 1.4).
In spelling out the rabbinic definition of marriage, the Mishnah obliges a husband to bury his deceased wife–and then raises the issue of what constitutes a proper burial. One rabbi’s answer takes for granted the vital role of women professionals in public mourning: “Even the poorest husband in Israel must hire at least two flute-players and one wailing woman” (K’tubot 4:4).
In general, the laws of mourning treat men and women with parity. Women mourn, and are mourned, with only minor differences for men.
A widow…such he may not marry (21:14). The Rabbis preserved these biblical prohibitions limiting which women a man of priestly origin could marry. In fact, they went so far as to say that kohanim are hotheaded and sometime divorce their wives without good reason; upon calming down, they then discover they cannot take their divorced wives back. To save kohanim from this predicament, the Rabbis instituted a special bill of divorce for kohanim that takes longer to prepare and would not be completed until the kohein has regained his composure. This would give him an opportunity to call off the divorce proceedings before it is too late (BT Bava Batra 160b).
These are my fixed times (23:2). Leviticus 23 provides information about the Sabbath, the New Moon, Pesach, Shavuot, New Year, Yom Kippur, and Sukkot. These verses address the people in the second person masculine plural and nowhere is there any reference to women. Thus, one must inquire: were women, too, expected to offer a paschal lamb, blow the shofar, dwell in a sukkah, refrain from work on the Sabbath and holy days, and afflict themselves on Yom Kippur?
The Rabbis answered these questions in different ways and they also discussed women’s obligations for Purim and Chanukah, two festivals that are not mentioned in the Torah. The basic premise is that women are considered responsible for obeying all of Judaism’s negative commandments and for observing most of the positive commandments, including celebrating Shabbat and the festivals. A man should cause his children and household to rejoice on a festival (BT P’sachim 109a). However, the Rabbis explicitly exempted women from hearing the shofar on Rosh HaShanah; dwelling in a sukkah during the Sukkot festival; waving the lulav on Sukkot; and counting the Omer between Pesach and Shavuot. Since these are all commandments to be performed at fixed times of the year, they conform to the exemption of women from time-bound commandments prescribed in Mishnah Kiddushin 1:7.
However, the Talmud specifically obligated women to other time-bound festival observances. These included Kiddush (sanctification of wine) on the Sabbath (BT B’rachot 20b) and, according to most authorities, on the festivals as well; kindling Sabbath and festival lights and the Chanukah lamp (BT Shabbat 23a); listening to M’gillat Esther on Purim (BT M’gillah 4a); and eating matzah (BT P’sachim 43b) and drinking four cups of wine at the Passover seder. Rabbi Joshua ben Levi justified women’s inclusion in these Chanukah (BT Shabbat 23a), Pesach, and Purim rituals (BT M’gillah 4a), on the grounds that women, too, were included in these miracles. Women, like men, are required to fast and afflict themselves in various ways on the Day of Atonement and to refrain from doing any work (BT Sukkah 28b); they are also obligated to observe all other mandated fast days. [In the course of the 20th century, liberal movements in Judaism fostered women’s equal participation in all aspects of festival and holiday observance and introduced a number of new rituals, some of which focus specifically on women and female experience. –Ed.]
There came out . . . a man whose mother (24:10). This narrative, by noting the Egyptian lineage of the father of the man who cursed God, implies that his mother was responsible for her son’s horrendous behavior because she had married an Egyptian. Some of the Rabbis disagreed and exempted her from wrongdoing, suggesting that the Egyptian man slipped into her bed unbeknownst to her, and this was why her offspring was tainted (Tanchuma, Sh’mot 9). Others said the Torah recorded her name in full because she alone behaved in a promiscuous manner, where the other Israelite women acted modestly and did not consort with foreign men (Midrash B’midbar Rabbah 20).
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 30 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 sh’loshim yom, shehëm arba’ah shavu’ot ushnëi yamim la‘Ómer/ba‘Ómer.”
“Today is 30 days, which is four weeks 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 fifth chapter.
From Sefaria.org https://www.sefaria.org/Pirkei_Avot.5
10: There are four types of character in human beings: One that says: “mine is mine, and yours is yours”: this is a commonplace type; and some say this is a sodom-type of character. [One that says:] “mine is yours and yours is mine”: is an unlearned person (am haaretz); [One that says:] “mine is yours and yours is yours” is a pious person. [One that says:] “mine is mine, and yours is mine” is a wicked person.
13. There are four types of charity givers. He who wishes to give, but that others should not give: his eye is evil to that which belongs to others; He who wishes that others should give, but that he himself should not give: his eye is evil towards that which is his own; He who desires that he himself should give, and that others should give: he is a pious man; He who desires that he himself should not give and that others too should not give: he is a wicked man.
LAG B‘ÓMER or LAG LA‘ÓMER (33rd day of the ‘Ómer – Ashkenazi) – M-T May 8-9
LAD BA‘ÓMER (34th Day of the ‘Ómer – Sefardi) – T-W May 9-10
From Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lag_BaOmer
Lag Ba’Omer/B’Omer/La’Omer is a Jewish religious holiday celebrated on the 33rd day of the Counting of the Omer, which occurs on the 18th day of the Hebrew month of Iyar.
According to kabbalistic tradition, this day marks the hillula (celebration, interpreted by some as anniversary of the death) of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, “the Rashbi”, a Mishnaic sage and leading disciple of Rabbi Akiva in the 2nd century, and the day on which he revealed the deepest secrets of kabbalah in the form of the Zohar (Book of Splendor, literally ‘radiance’), a landmark text of Jewish mysticism.
While the Counting of the Omer is a semi-mourning period, all restrictions of mourning are lifted for Ashkenazim on the 33rd day of the Omer. The Sephardic custom is to cease mourning the following day, celebrations being allowed on the 34th day of the Omer, Lad BaOmer (ל״ד בעומר). As a result, weddings, parties, listening to music, and haircuts are commonly scheduled to coincide with Lag BaOmer among Ashkenazi Jews, while Sephardi Jews hold weddings the next day.
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, 15 Iyar through 21 Iyar, we lovingly remember:
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 5, 2023. We will discuss Haftarah Emor Ezekiel 44:15-31.
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 – Haftarah Emor: Ezekiel 44:15-31
Time: May 5, 2023 06:00 PM Arizona
Shazoom – Erev Shabbat Service
Time: May 5, 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 Ezekiel:
From Jewish Encyclopedia
From My Jewish Learning
Timelines from Wikipedia