Parsha Emor: A Torah on Speaking

Tonight is a peaceful night after a beautiful day here in Eugene.  This shabbat (Saturday)  we read a parsha (weekly Torah portion) called Emor which means, “Tell.”  Why?  Because the parsha begins with haShem (god) telling Moshe (Moses) to TELL to the priests, the sons of Aharon a whole lot of things such as not to become tamae (mixed) by the soul of a member of the nation.  The implication here is that the soul means when a person dies … Continue reading

Counting the Omer: Jewish Personal Growth

First, what is an Omer?  And why do we count them?  And how does counting these… omers lead to self improvement (which I am implying by the title of this post)? The answer to the first two questions are easy.  Omer is the Hebrew word for a sheaf of grain.  The main Jewish sacred text, the Torah, tells us that we should bring sheaves of barley to the sacred place, the place where the divine infinite safely intersects our finite … Continue reading

Parsha (double) Acharai-Kedushim: A Death and Holy Torah

We are on a roll.  This week is our second double parsha (weekly Torah portion) in a row.  It is called Acharai-Kedushim, though some call it Acharai mot-Kedushim.  The reason for the extra word is because the first word, acharai, means after, and some people feel that is not a distinctive enough word.  The second word means death. The name of the second of our two parshas is called Kedushim which is the plural form of the verb, “To separate … Continue reading

Parsha (double) Tazria-Metzora: How To Create Torah

This week we have another of our famous double parshas (weekly Torah readings) and it is called Tazria-Metzora.  Tazria is the name of the first parsha and means, “She will cause seed to be sewn.”  Metzora is the name of the second parsha and refers to a person who has Tzaraat which is a spiritual malady and often mistranslated as leprosy.  Seeing as we had our first double parsha a few weeks ago, I think I will go straight into … Continue reading

Parsha Shmini: Captain, We Have a Breach in the Torah

The parsha (weekly Torah portion) for this week is called Shmini and means, “8th,” as in the eighth day after Aharon and his sons began their initiation ritual.  I find it very interesting that this is the first time we have moved beyond a concept of seven days.  Seven is the directions: north, east, south, west, up, down, and center.  It is also the number of days god took to create the world.  So it represents the physical world or … Continue reading