24Do not defile yourselves in any of those ways, for it is by such that the nations that I am casting out before you defiled themselves. 25Thus the land became defiled; and I called it to account for its iniquity, and the land spewed out its inhabitants. 26But you must keep My laws and My rules, and you must not do any of those abhorrent things, neither the citizen nor the stranger who resides among you; 27for all those abhorrent things were done by the people who were in the land before you, and the land became defiled. 28So let not the land spew you out for defiling it, as it spewed out the nation that came before you. (Leviticus 18:24-28) Continue reading →
The Western Wall Agreement and What You Need to Know:
The Western Wall Agreement refers to the recent decision to add to the Egalitarian section at the Western Wall in Jerusalem, Israel. Yet, the historic agreement has come under fire and there are threats to undo the progress made by the momentous and progressive Western Wall Agreement. Understand the background here.
All the days wherein the plague is in him he shall be impure; he is impure, he shall dwell alone; his dwelling shall be outside the camp. (Lev 13:46)
As Jews, we do not revere solitude. The Torah tells us early on that “it is not good for a person to be alone” (Genesis 2:18), and later the Mishna instructs us “not to separate ourselves from the community” (Avot 2:4). We place a high value on community and even invented the concept of “peoplehood.”
Parashat Tzav outlines the priests׳ responsibilities in preparing and offering the different types of sacrifices in Temple times. But what about people who couldn’t get to the Source in Jerusalem? The Mishnah describes a remarkable (and startlingly relevant to us) system that brought distant communities close to Zion.
The Parsha for this week is V’era. It beings with an extraordinary act of revelation. God speaks to Moses declaring, “I am Yod-Hay-Vav-Hay. I appeared to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob as El Shaddai, but my Name, Yod-Hay-Vav-Hay, I did not make known to them (or I did not make known to them that which my Name Yod-Hay-Vav-Hay implies – Samson Raphael Hirsch).” Continue reading →
1 And it came to pass after these things, that God did prove Abraham, and said unto him: ‘Abraham’; and he said: ‘Here am I.’ 2 And He said: ‘Take now thy son, thine only son, whom thou lovest, even Isaac, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt-offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of.’
Why does it matter where Avraham offers his son up as an offering? More so than the basic narrative of being tested through the sacrifice of one’s own son, the designated location in which this takes place proves to be a significant factor for the future development of our people.
“El Eretz HaMoriah – to the Land of Moriah” seems inherently insignificant and more like an unknown land far away lacking any emotional connection.
Last week, we had the privilege of serving as Association of Reform Zionists of America (ARZA) delegates to the 37th World Zionist Congress in Jerusalem. During the course of the week, we met leaders dedicated to the growth of the Reform movement in Israel, learned from African refugees and asylum seekers in Israel, joined with students from the Abdullah Ibn Al-Hussain Secondary girls’ school in East Jerusalem, and heard Knesset leaders share their vision for Israel’s future.
All these experiences came together in our final two days of the trip, when ARZA joined the other delegates of the World Zionist Congress to fight for our Zionist ideals through resolutions, votes, and (perhaps most importantly) cross-cultural dialogue. Continue reading →