Rabbi David Edleson
April 10, 2019
So, let me start with a question. Show of hands, who in here has been on a special diet of some sort in the past few years?
- Who’s not eating Gluten?
- Who’s not eating Dairy?
- Who’s doing Paleo, or Low-Carbs?
- Who’s not eating red meat?
- Low salt? Low sugar?
- Who’s vegetarian? vegan?
It seems that as Americans, we are very comfortable with all sorts of diets, all sorts of food restrictions, but for many of us, not eating bread for week seems like way too much. I can’t tell you the number of Facebook posts I get each year with Jewish friends taking a selfie of eating a sandwich, or doughnut, or other yeasty treat with a big spiteful grin on their faces.
This is Shabbat HaGadol, the GREAT SABBATH, and not just because it is Emma Marden’s Bat Mitzvah!
What Purim almost was
Tonight was going to be a festive Purim-leaning Shabbat, but after the events in New Zealand, it isn’t right.
It is important to remember that Purim itself is a holiday about a narrow escape from a massacre, a genocide. Purim celebrates that rare moment when such tragedy is avoided, but it reminds us how close we come to such events. Especially in Jewish history, we know that the good ending is clung to, but the tragic ending is all too common.
This week, we begin reading the book of Leviticus, or “Vayikra” in Hebrew. Leviticus is a very detailed training manual for priests at the ancient Jerusalem temple, and includes some of the most beautiful, and some of the most offensive laws in the Torah. We also get a blow-by-blow of each kind of animal sacrifice – sort of a Texas Chainsaw Massacre but with no chainsaws. It is no wonder that many synagogues in the early Reform Movement simply opted to skip Leviticus in the yearly readings. It can be difficult to find much connection and meaning in much of the book, and it is so counter to modern sensibilities that it mostly makes us feel the distance between our beliefs and the Torah.
BUILDING A SANCTUARY FROM THE INSIDE OUT
PART I – Sacred Partnership
We are here tonight to celebrate Shabbat, but also to install our new Board of Directors, to pray for their success, and to offer our support to them.
It seems particularly fitting that our Torah Portion is Terumah, which describes the building of the Mishkan, or Tabernacle- or in other words, the original Temple. It tells us in great detail how to make every object, from the menorah to ark of the covenant, to the rings that hold up the curtains.
While every synagogue needs leaders and board to do the work of keeping things running and healthy, our Torah portion begins not with the leadership, but with the people,