Archives for April 2012

Torah Reflections: April 22 – 28, 2012

Parashah (portion) Tazria – Metzorah – The Sacred Time of Giving Birth         
Leviticus 12:1 – 15:33

This week’s Torah portion begins with:

The Eternal One spoke to Moses, saying: Speak to the Israelite people thus: When a woman at childbirth bears a male, she shall be impure seven days; she shall be impure as at the time of her condition of menstrual separation. On the eighth day the flesh of his foreskin shall be circumcised. She shall remain in a state of blood purification for 33 days: she shall not touch any consecrated thing, nor enter the sanctuary until her period of purification is completed. If she bears a female, she shall be impure two weeks as during her menstruation, and she shall remain in a state of blood purification for 66 days. On the completion of her period of purification, for either son or daughter, she shall bring to the priest, at the entrance of the Tent of Meeting, a lamb in its first year for a burnt offering, and a pigeon or a turtledove for a purgation offering. [Lev. 12:1-6]

[Read more…]

Harmony Hill Retreat 2012

Error fetching Flickr photos: A feed could not be found at https://api.flickr.com/services/feeds/photos_public.gne?lang=en-us&format=feed-rss_200&id=betalefseattle&tags=harmonyhill&per_page=20. A feed with an invalid mime type may fall victim to this error, or SimplePie was unable to auto-discover it.. Use force_feed() if you are certain this URL is a real feed.

Torah Reflections: April 15 – 21, 2012

Parashah (portion) Sh’mini – Merging With The One Light    
Leviticus 9:1 – 11:47

As our weekly reading resumes, following the end of Passover, we are met by one of the most mesmerizing stories in Torah: the fiery death of Aharon’s sons Nadav and Avihu. Most rabbis explain their deaths as Divine punishment and as a cautionary tale “against spontaneous worship… and the unrestrained desire to ascend to forbidden heights” as Nehama Leibovitz highlights in her commentary. Due to the complexity of the Hebrew, however, no one can fully grasp the ultimate meaning of the story.

Moses and Aharon then went inside the Tent of Meeting. When they came out, they blessed the people; and the Presence of the Eternal appeared to all the people. Fire came forth from the Presence of the Eternal and consumed the burnt offering… And all the people saw, and shouted, and fell on their faces. Now Aharon’s sons Nadav and Avihu each took his fire pan, put fire in it, and laid incense on it; and brought-near, in the Presence of the Eternal, a strange fire, such as he had not commanded them. And fire came forth from within the Presence of the Eternal and consumed them, so that they died within the Presence of the Eternal. Then Moses said to Aharon: This is what the Eternal meant by saying: Through those near to me I will be known as Holy…
[Lev. 9:23-10:3]

[Read more…]

Passover Reflections: April 1 – 7, 2012

A Connection Through Time     

Thursday is coming to a close, and tomorrow night is the first night of Passover. I just finished cleaning our house and I can’t imagine there could be any chametz left anywhere. Chametz is the Hebrew word that stands for all leavened foods forbidden during Passover (wheat, barley, rye, oats, spelt and their derivatives.) The outer act of cleaning our homes — of emptying our homes from chametz — is there to trigger the beginning of an inner process of emptying ourselves from our leavened ego, our puffed-up-ness, which will continue to unfold over the eight days of Passover.

Tonight, as the sun sets, I will gather my children around me, and the three of us will walk through the house at the light of a candle to symbolically look for the last bread crumbs that might have escaped my spring cleaning. I always look forward to this moment. It connects me back to my childhood and doing this with my father and brother, like my father did with his father growing up. Generations of Jews have repeated this ritual called b’dikat chametz year after year for the last two millennia, collecting the crumbs in a container to be burnt in the morning (biur chametz.) Lior, my 8 year old son, asked this morning — as he was watching me getting the house ready — why Passover is such an important holiday compared to others? The first answer that came up for me was that, however religious, whatever our beliefs or lack thereof, Jews all over the world will be sitting at the Seder table tomorrow night, retelling the story of the Haggadah and partaking of the foods of the Seder plate. Perhaps this holiday, more than any other, is one which connects us through time to all the generations that have come before us, a celebration that is foundational to Jewish identity.
[Read more…]