It is not obvious that the compilers of the Torah chose to finish the third book of the Torah with a set of blessings and curses. A similar section of blessings and curses, yet much longer, is found at the end of Deuteronomy, the fifth Torah book.
This week brings us Yom Y'rushalayim (May 8 / 28 Iyar), one of several Jewish holidays commemorating events of war in the modern State of Israel. This one recalls Israel's "recovery" of the Old City of Jerusalem during the Six Day War in 1967.
The sign read, "We've got to stop it," and under it a woman sat alone at a table in the grocery store parking lot. The sign also contained the words "domestic violence," so I walked over. She greeted me warmly, "I'm trying to put a face to it. To say it could happen to anyone.
This week's parashah, Sh'mini, consists of three distinct parts that do not appear, on the surface, to relate directly to one to another. Let's begin by looking at a summary of each of these parts.
What a difficult portion Tazria is! It looks at issues of purity; birth; and illness of men and women, fabric and skin. Even without touching on leprosy (or whatever skin disease it is) there's plenty to discuss in this parashah!
M'tzora, the name of this week's parashah, refers to a person or a house afflicted with a skin condition called tzaraat. Often mistranslated as "leprosy," tzaraat is something totally different than what we, today, call leprosy.
This week's Torah portion, Acharei Mot, "After the death" [of two of Aaron's sons], continues the focus on ritual purity that began earlier in Leviticus, and begins the section of the book known as the Holiness Code.
As someone who has spent over forty years as a Jewish educator, I have always been fascinated by the Pesach seder. In fact, I have often said that it is the most perfect "lesson plan" ever created. The seder, when planned and done well, is truly "experiential education" at its best.