Yom Yerushalayim—The City of Peace
On the 50 year-Anniversary of the 6-Day War
Posted on May 25, 2017
This week we read the Torah portion of Bamidbar, which describes a census taken of the people of Israel as we are about to go to war to capture our land. The timing is fascinating, for today we celebrate Yom Yerushalayim on the Jewish calendar, the holiday that commemorates the reunification of the city of Jerusalem in the miraculous Six Day War of 1967. It has been exactly 50 years on the Jewish calendar since we were finally able to return to the Kotel, the Western Wall, holiest place on earth for Jews; 50 years since the commander of the troops who captured the Old City from Jordanian forces, Motta Gur, announced, Har HaBayit B’yadeinu—the Temple Mount is in our hands.
Read more: Rabbi Samuel M. Cohon’s Weekly Torah Talk On Bamidbar 5777
We Bring Mt. Sinai with Us
Posted on May 18, 2017
This week we read the sedrah of Behar-Bechukotai, the double portion at the end of the book of Leviticus. In these final sections of the middle book of the Torah there are interesting oddities—and lessons—both at the beginning and the end of each portion.
Behar begins with the statement that “God spoke to Moses at Mt. Sinai saying”, a seemingly unambiguous phrase. And at the end of the opening covenantal section of Bechukotai the Torah reiterates that God gave all the regulations and laws contained here at Mt. Sinai. Finally, Bechukotai concludes the book of Vayikra by telling us “these are the commandments that God commanded Moses for the Israelites on Mt. Sinai”.
All well and good. These rules of holiness and personal conduct must have been commanded at Mt. Sinai.
Yet earlier in Leviticus it makes it pretty clear that God has given most of these commandments not at Mt. Sinai itself, but in the Tabernacle in the Wilderness, the Ohel Mo’eid, the Tent of Meeting, as the people wander around. In fact, the whole book of Leviticus is apparently given after we have left Sinai and begun our journey to the Promised Land. Clearly, as Behar begins the Israelites don’t actually seem to still be at Mt. Sinai at all.
Read more: Rabbi Samuel M. Cohon’s Weekly Torah Talk On Behar/Bechukotai 5777