Struggling to Celebrate

Struggling to Celebrate

Apr 30, 2021 By Naomi Kalish | Commentary | Emor

While Parashat Emor contains one of the Torah’s discussions of holidays and instructions for their observances, rabbinic literature provides guidance for their observance in the context of the complexities of the participants’ lives, even those who might be struggling to celebrate.

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Opportunities in Jewish Time

Opportunities in Jewish Time

May 8, 2020 By Abigail Uhrman | Commentary | Emor

I had to think twice about what day it was today. In fact, since we’ve been sheltering at home, there have been many days when I have had to think twice. Like most families with children, I have our daily schedule posted prominently in our kitchen to add some much-needed structure to this time, but still, the days seem to stretch on. When Friday rolls around, though, there is a welcome interruption to our normal rhythm as we begin our Shabbat preparations. Despite the benefits of our carefully orchestrated routine, and there are many, Shabbat offers us a 25-hour window to think, do, and be differently than the rest of the week.

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Counting Whole Jews

Counting Whole Jews

May 17, 2019 By Arielle Levites | Commentary | Emor

We are in a season of counting. Beginning on the second night of Passover, Jews around the world began a collective counting project, marking the days from the Exodus from Egypt to the holiday of Shavuot, which celebrates the Israelites’ receiving of the 10 Commandments at Sinai.

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Who Belongs?

Who Belongs?

May 4, 2018 By Rachel Rosenthal | Commentary | Emor

Who is the Other? This question, which is asked more and more often in our world, is not often easy to answer. Can one choose to be part of a community? Are people who were once outsiders ever fully welcomed as insiders? In Judaism, these questions are especially important. While Judaism has categories to define and even praise non-Jews, opting into the Jewish community is not simple. However, the Talmud tells us that once someone converts to Judaism, we are supposed to treat them as any other Jew. Unfortunately, this is a mission in which many communities fail.

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Casting Call: Leaders Wanted

Casting Call: Leaders Wanted

May 12, 2017 By Avi Garelick | Commentary | Emor

For the stage, an actor works himself into a role… In this respect, a role in a play is like a position in a game, say, third base: various people can play it, but the great third baseman is a man who has accepted and trained his skills and instincts most perfectly and matches them most intimately with his discoveries of the possibilities and necessities of third base. On the stage there are two beings, and the being of the character assaults the being of the actor; the actor survives only by yielding.

—Stanley Cavell, The World Viewed: Reflections on the Ontology of Film, 1971

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Law, Compassion, and Justice

Law, Compassion, and Justice

May 12, 2017 By Eliezer B. Diamond | Commentary | Emor

In the fall of 2012, I taught a course at the Princeton Theological Seminary entitled “An Introduction to Rabbinic Literature.” I saw my mission as twofold. My stated goal was to familiarize my students with the intellectual and spiritual world of the Rabbis through the study of representative texts from each of the genres of rabbinic literature: Mishnah, Tosefta, the Talmuds, and the halakhic and aggadic midrashim.

However, my study of text had a subtext: to disabuse my Christian students of the pernicious stereotypes of rabbinic Judaism that, some would argue, were first fostered by the apostle Paul and that persist to this very day in many Christian circles.

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An Illustration of <em>Kiddush Levanah</em>

An Illustration of Kiddush Levanah

May 20, 2016 By The Library of the Jewish Theological Seminary | Commentary | Emor

The middle of this week’s parashah (Lev. 23) details the cycle of the Jewish holidays. Each holiday is listed according to its month and its day. The months of the Hebrew calendar are strictly lunar, from new moon to new moon. Kiddush Levanah, a selection of prayers in honor of the new moon, is traditionally recited at the end of the first or second shabbat of each month.

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The Blasphemer’s Twin

The Blasphemer’s Twin

May 20, 2016 By Tim Daniel Bernard | Commentary | Emor

This week’s parashah ends with a sin:

וַיִּקֹּב בֶּן-הָאִשָּׁה הַיִּשְׂרְאֵלִית אֶת-הַשֵּׁם וַיְקַלֵּל.

The son of the Israelite woman pronounced the name [of God] and cursed. (Lev. 24:11)

Maybe we don’t need to overthink why a law code seen as given by God would determine that cursing God is problematic, but how severe a crime is this? Evidently, Moses was uncertain: the culprit was detained while Moses checked in with God (Lev. 24:12). Perhaps the negative consequence of this act seems unclear. After all, what harm can possibly come to God through human words?

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The Cycles of Nature

The Cycles of Nature

May 7, 2011 By Abigail Treu | Commentary | Text Study | Emor

A midrash for any attorney or accountant to love, the last line of which already rings with the oy vey iz mir tone which has come down to us via Tevye and Seinfeld as a quintessentially Jewish mode of wry humor.

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The Gift of Uncertainty

The Gift of Uncertainty

May 13, 2006 By Matthew Berkowitz | Commentary | Emor

Israel is a land almost wholly dependent on the heavens above. As such, concern for one’s crops is a dominant theme through the biblical and rabbinic periods. Far from being a land irrigated by a river flowing through its length as Egypt, Israel is dependent on the rains above — and the winds below. Accordingly, this week’s Parashat Emor delineates the calendar year and very specifically addresses the period in which we find ourselves — the counting of the Omer from Passover to Shavu’ot.

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