Tazria - Metzora
BY RACHEL AIN for JTS
Abracadabra! These words, recited by magicians all over the world, when broken down into smaller words introduce us to the truest mystery-the creation of the world. A'bara K'adabra - I will create as I have spoken. Just as magicians claim to have the power to change the reality that is in front of them with words, so too, when God created the world it was done not with hands, not with tools, but with speech. In Genesis 1:3 the first thing that God does is to speak. This verse reads, "And God said: 'Let there be light'; And there was light." What is it about the power of the spoken word that causes it to transform worlds?
Leviticus 9:1 - 11:47
BY MATTHEW BERKOWITZ, DIRECTOR OF ISRAEL PROGRAMS for JTS
Silence and Loss
One of the most enigmatic and painful moments of all of Tanakh occurs in Parashat Shemini. Nadav and Avihu, Aaron’s sons, come before the altar and offer what Torah describes as an “alien fire.” Without any sense of deliberation or warning, a divine fire issues forth and consumes Aaron’s progeny. Clearly shocked by the mystery of their deaths, Leviticus tells us that “Aaron was silent” (Lev. 10:1–3). Though I have often pointed to Aaron and his response as a powerful example of mourning the inexplicable loss of loved ones, Nahmanides gives us pause to reconsider the peshat(Torah’s literal meaning) of this verse. I, and many others, have always understood Aaron’s reaction as a deep, impenetrable silence reflecting the most genuine and profound reaction to tragedy. Ramban is far more nuanced in his reading.
Acharon Shel Pesach - Last Day of Passover
This Saturday, April 7, 2018, is the last day of Passover for Jews in the Diaspora
Deuteronomy 14:22 - 16:17 & Numbers 28:19 - 28:25
Like the reading for the second day, it catalogs the annual cycle of festivals, their special observances, and the offerings brought on these occasions to the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. The Eighth Day's special connection with the Future Redemption is reflected in the Haftorah (reading from the Prophets) for this day (Isaiah 10:32-12:6).
Morning service. Half-Hallel is recited. Two Torah scrolls are taken out of the ark. The Yizkor memorial service is recited following the Torah reading.
Pesach 1 - On Shabbat
On the FIRST DAY OF PASSOVER we read from the book of Exodus (12:21-51) & Numbers (28:16 - 28:25) of the bringing of the Passover Offering in Egypt, the Plague of the Firstborn at the stroke of midnight, and how "On this very day, G‑d took the Children of Israel out of Egypt."
Chag Sameach!/Happy Holiday!
Want more information on Passover? Check out Jvillage Network's Passover Guide.
Tzav - Shabbat Hagadol
Leviticus 6:1−8:36; Special Haftarah: Malachi 3:4 - 3:24
BY SAMUEL BARTH for JTSA.edu
Elijah—Families and the End of Days
Elijah is an enigmatic and beloved figure in the Passover seder, with a myriad of explanations for his appearance and role. It’s worth noting that Elijah appears first in our liturgical texts even before we sit down to begin the seder: the haftarah for Shabbat Hagadol (the Shabbat before Pesah) is from the end of Malachi, and concludes with the haunting words, “Behold, I will send you Elijah the Prophet before the coming of the great and awesome Day of Adonai; and he will return the hearts of parents to their children, and the hearts of children to their parents.” I always see this text as displaying the greatest insight into human nature.