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Parashat Emor

May 13, 2022
12 Iyyar 5782

Parashat Emor
Leviticus 21:1 -- 24:23
27th Day of the Omer

Click HERE to read the Torah portion

I recently went for a walk on a beautiful day and ran into three people. I had a chat with each one. They provided me with various ways in which we can approach this moment in time. The one that concerned me the most was one that highlighted the isolation of our current moment. Our chat was filled with a sense that the world was filled with conspiracies and our ability to fight against them was limited, if not impossible -- dark view indeed.

This chat reminded me that isolation breeds darkness. Although safety and care is important (keep wearing your masks when indoors!), we need to be reaching out to others in any way we can.

As I often do when faced with a moment of difficulty or a roadblock, I turn to my teachers. Rabbi Jill Hammer’s “The Jewish Book of Days” has a reflection on each day of the Jewish calendar. In reflecting upon the 12th of Iyar, she writes that we are in a month of radiance. One of the definitions of the word Iyar is derived from the Hebrew word for light. It was previously known as the month of Ziv, prior to the Babylonian exile.

The Jerusalem Talmud describes Ziv/Iyar as a month of light,
when the beauty of the natural world is revealed to us most deeply…”

Today is also the 27th day of the Omer, more than halfway through the time between Passover and Shavuot. This day is characterized by the following qualities: “yesod shebenetzach, the connectedness of eternity.”

It seems wholly appropriate to use this moment to reflect upon the stubbornness of life. We are here! There are more good people in the world than evil ones. The blossoms on the trees, the fragrance of the flowers, the bunnies on lawns, and the nesting birds all join together to remind us of that light and radiance.

But it is not a light to be taken for granted. We are partners with the natural world and our behavior impacts the radiant holiness of spring in bloom.

This week’s Torah portion Emor, meaning "say," once more highlights the importance of speech even as it highlights the importance of our actions. Once more we are told to take care of the poor.

And 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 LORD am your God.” (Leviticus 23:22)

How do we add to the radiance that the Divine has put into the world? First, we simply recognize it. Secondly, we do nothing to harm it. Third, perhaps most importantly, we do what we can to add to it. With that in mind, I invite you to read the Mitzvah of the Week.

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Linda Shriner-Cahn

Tue, June 6 2023 17 Sivan 5783