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May 8, 2020
14 Iyar 5780

Pesach Sheni
29th day of the Omer
Parashat Emor
Leviticus 21:1 - 24:23

Dear Friends,

Emor, this week’s Torah portion (Leviticus 21:1–24:23), means speak or say. It is an imperative to Moses from the Divine. Moses is instructed to speak to the people and he does at great length about the following: the restrictions related to priests’ sexuality and marriage, including a description of holidays -- Passover, Shabbat, Yom Kippur, and Sukkot. The omer period is described, asking the Israelites to bring food offerings to the priests for seven weeks -- the time between Passover and the barley harvest. In the middle of all of this, we are once more reminded not to harvest the corners of our fields.

“When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap all the way to the edges of your field, or gather the gleanings of your harvest; you shall leave them for the poor and the stranger: I, the Eternal One, am your God." (Leviticus 23:22)

Moses is talking to the people, giving them structure and sharing the structure that is to dictate the life of the priestly class. From our distant gaze, the strictures placed upon the priests may seem harsh, but when we look closely they exist to create a structure for approaching the Divine. They create an opening, a means of connection.

Within this Torah portion, the ways in which to sanctify time and space are interwoven. We are reminded that we can sanctify time by setting time aside from our daily routine. Designating Shabbat during this time has become even more important as it is a way for the days to keep from blending together into a shapeless mass. With the reminder once more to not plow the corners of our field, we are reminded of our obligation to one another.

As we continue to live our lives in ways not previously imagined, the Torah speaks out in clear resounding voice, making it clearer than ever that our actions matter and that, even sheltered in our dwelling places, we are capable of creating holy time and space.

A key Jewish principle is on display as different leaders and spokespeople discuss the sanctity of life as well as the day to day economics that sustain life. Within our tradition, the sanctity of human life is key, as we see each life as being a world unto itself.

Like our ancestors, we are traversing unknown territory and turning to one another for guidance, sustenance and support. Please know that we are here for you as we journey together.

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Linda Shriner-Cahn

Sat, September 19 2020 1 Tishrei 5781