Containers of God's Glory

Shavuot means “weeks” and refers to the 7 weeks between Pesach and Shavuot, the time in which we count the omer. This is indeed how the Torah refers to this holy day. In Exodus and Deuteronomy it is called “Chag Shavuot” or “Chag ha-Shavuot”; the Feast of Weeks. Exodus also refers to this day as Chag ha-Katzir, the Feast of the Harvest. This refers to the wheat harvest which was brought in during this time. The day after Pesach was the time to bring an offering of the firstfruits of barley to the Temple, Shavuot was the time to bring in the firstfruits of wheat offerings. It is for this reason that the Torah in the Book of Numbers also calls this day Yom ha-Bikkurim; the Day of Firstfruits.

A Life of Restraint

In our Besorah reading this week Yeshua is asked what is the greatest commandment. This was a common topic of debate in his day with various teachers giving different answers. The question wasn’t really about the greatest commandment specifically, but more about how can you summarize the totality of Torah succinctly. Rabbi Akiva, a very prominent rabbi in the first century, agreed with Yeshua quoting Leviticus 19.18 “You shall love your neighbor as yourself”. Shimon Ben Azzai, a contemporary of Akiva, says that the basis of the whole Torah is that God made humanity in His own image. Meaning that we should treat one another with love and respect because we are all children of God. And of cour

Causing Ourselves to Walk with Hashem

In our parsha this week, God says to Israel ‘If you walk in my statutes and are sure to obey my commandments… I will walk among you and I will be your God and you will be my people.” But does this mean that if we obey His commands that He will just walk in our midst while we go about our daily lives? This could be viewed as rather distant. Yes, in our midst, but not really interacting with us. Or could there be more to this? Rashi was a prominent rabbi in Northern France around the year 1100 and is one of Judaism’s greatest scholars. In his commentary on Leviticus 26:12 he writes “I [speaking of God] will, as it were, walk with you in the Garden of Eden as though I were one of you and you wi

Responsibility For Others

Our parsha this week includes a listing of strictures upon the kohanim; the priests who serve in the Mishkan and later the Temple. Due to their elevated service and closeness to Hashem, they have the most demands upon them. Most of you know that one of my deepest connections to Judaism is my sense of being a priest. Since early childhood I have had this sense that at the very core of my being I am meant to be a conduit of Hashem to others. This is what a priest is and does. This has morphed and matured throughout my life but that core notion of being for others has never changed. I am not a scholar, nor will I ever be a great rabbi, but I am a lover of people. A priest. As Jews we are priest

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