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Parashat Shmini

April 11, 2023
21 Nisan 5783
6th day of the Omer
Leviticus 9:1 - 11:47

Dear Friends,

Spring is upon us. The birds have arrived to nibble at the budding trees. The tulips are joining the daffodils as they bloom, and the magnolia trees are spreading their fragrance. Even as Passover is a time to tell the story of our deliverance from slavery, it is also a time where we celebrate the rebirth of the natural world around us.

In a city like New York, it is sometimes difficult to appreciate the change of seasons, particularly after a strange snowless winter. These last few days, we have spent a great deal of time out of doors walking around the nature that is close at hand. It is a balm for the soul that is much needed. It is hinted at at the Seder, with the egg on the Seder plate symbolizing rebirth and renewal. Even the parsley reminds us with its luscious green color that soon we will once more be surrounded by nature in its reawakened glory.

How wise were the rabbis to have us read Song of Songs during Passover! After the delightful tumult of the seders, we turn to this poetry filled with longing and love in a beautiful setting. Whether we see the poetry as reflection of the Divine’s love for the people and covenant with them or see the poetry of love between lovers, it is a book of hope and possibility. When things are dark, and they have been dark and continue to be unsettled in the world around us, how strengthening it is to witness the renewal that nature and love provides.

“Arise, my darling;
My fair one, come away!
For now the winter is past,
The rains are over and gone.
The blossoms have appeared in the land,
The time of pruning has come;
The song of the turtledove
Is heard in our land.
The green figs form on the fig tree,
The vines in blossom give off fragrance.
Arise, my darling;
My fair one, come away!”
(Song of Songs 2:10-13)

 Wishing you all a good close of the holiday and Shabbat Shalom. Please see this as an invitation to join me on Shabbat morning as we take a meditative walk and study together.

Rabbi Linda Shriner-Cahn

Wed, May 22 2024 14 Iyyar 5784