Freedom for All
Posted on April 12, 2017
The Torah readings on Passover are some of the most dramatic and interesting of the entire year. We remember the Exodus from Egypt in a variety of ways: in prose, in poetry, by recalling the sacrifices of our ancestors, and by delineating rituals that we still observe.
We use Torah during Passover in the same way that we use the Haggadah at the Seder: to teach, remind, and refresh our understanding of the great blessing and value of freedom in every possible permutation. Freedom is too easy to take for granted. We must always remind ourselves of its blessings.
We do so on Pesach by celebrating freedom in word and song, by observing dietary restrictions that remind us of the servitude of our ancestors. Even the food teaches us to value the hard-won freedom of the Exodus story.
May we always enjoy the liberty to do so in this society, and in every society in which we find ourselves.
And may the many people of every faith who are not yet free become free soon.
Please join us for our Wandering Jews’ hike in the Wilderness at 5:30 PM this Friday night, our Shabbat Passover morning services at 9:30 this Saturday, including the chanting of the Song of Songs, and our 7th Day Passover morning services Monday including Yizkor memorial prayers at 9:30 AM. And have a zissen Pesach, a joyous and healthy Passover!
Offering Thanks in a Season of Freedom
Posted on April 5, 2017
This week’s Torah portion is the second in the Book of Leviticus, Tzav, the section that establishes rules for the various sacrifices offered in the Tabernacle in the Wilderness, the Mishkan. These same sacrifices were later also offered in the Temple in Jerusalem for a thousand years.
There are many different types of sacrifices commanded in Tzav: burnt offerings, guilt offerings, sin offerings, and so on. But one group of sacrificial offerings stands out: the offerings of peace, the zevach shlamim. And among this higher category of offerings one in particular stands out the highest: the zevach haTodah, the thanksgiving offering.
The rabbis thought so highly of thanksgiving to God that they are quoted in the Talmud saying that, “when the Messiah comes all sacrifices will have completed their mission, and all will be discontinued, with one exception: the thanksgiving offering.” That sacrifice will last forever, even after the Messiah! Why? Because even in a perfect world we must remember to give thanks, to be grateful for what we have.
Read more: Rabbi Samuel M. Cohon’s Weekly Torah Talk On Tzav/Shabbat Hagadol 5777