Virtuosity Savored

A blog by Adam J. Rosenbaum

Release Me: BeHar 2019

Pre-Game Chatter: What factors prevent you from reaching your full potential? How, if ever, do you feel trapped? To what extent are these barriers real or imagined? What do you think you’d be able to accomplish if only those barriers were lifted?

By establishing the Jubilee Year, the Torah provides a periodic way for Israelite indentured servants to get a new lease on life:

The Pitch: “You shall hallow the fiftieth year. You shall proclaim release throughout the land for all its inhabitants. It shall be a jubilee (yovel) for you: each of you shall return to his holding and each of you shall return to his family.” – Leviticus 25:10

Swing #1: “The halakhot (laws) of the Jubilee Year apply only when all its inhabitants are in the land of Israel, and not when some of them have been exiled.” – BT Arakhin

Swing #2: “A kabbalistic approach to the word yovel: It is derived from the expression ‘sending forth its roots by a stream’ (Jeremiah 17:8), a hint that all the succeeding generations are traced back to their original roots, to the prime cause which determined their development. This is the reason why the yovel is called “freedom”, a reminder of when man was free from sin. All of mankind originated with the pool of souls at God’s disposal, and eventually this is where the souls will return to.” – Rabbeinu Bahya

Swing #3: “According to the plain meaning, the word yovel connotes moving from one place to another. In fact, the deer is also called yovel because it is always going from place to place.” – HaAmek Davar

Late-Inning Questions: What do you think it meant to Israelites to have the periodic ability to be free to pursue their own livelihood? How important is economic freedom to you? Is it more important than other kinds of freedom? What kinds of freedom do you value most?

On-Deck at Emanu-El: We’ll have the good fortune to partner with the Charleston Jewish Federation in welcoming Dr. David Breakstone of the Jewish Agency to our synagogue Tuesday, May 28th, at 7:00PM. Dr. Breakstone has received rave reviews for past speeches and we’re looking forward to seeing him in person.

The Big Inning at the End: Speaking of valuing freedom, fifty years ago, baseball players were not allowed to be free agents and to sign with teams of their choosing. Curt Flood of the St. Louis Cardinals famously refused to play rather than accepting a trade to the Philadelphia Phillies. He said, “After twelve years in the major leagues, I do not feel I am a piece of property to be bought and sold irrespective of my wishes.” His stance likely cost him several more productive years in the majors, but he paved the way for many other players to reach their economic potential.

Shabbat Shalom!

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Lulav is All You Need?: Emor 2019

Pre-Game Chatter: What do you do when you’re happy? Do you celebrate with other people, or do you tend to be joyous privately? Does it ever make you uncomfortable if people “overshare” their good fortune? Is it even possible to “overshare” good fortune?

While this week’s Torah portion reminds us that Sukkot is the festival of our joy, there are different ideas of why we’re supposed to feel so joyous:

The Pitch: “Say to the Israelite people: On the fifteenth day of this seventh month there shall be the Feast of Booths to Adonai, to last seven days. The first day shall be a sacred occasion: you shall not work at your occupations; seven days you shall bring offerings by fire to Adonai. On the eighth day you shall observe a sacred occasion and bring an offering by fire to Adonai; it is a solemn gathering: you shall not work at your occupations.” – Leviticus 23:34-36

Swing #1: “The Yemenite Jews place great emphasis on the commandment of the Four Species because of its aesthetic requirement, as Rabbi Shlomo Korah wrote [in Arikhat Shulhan]: ‘Even though by the strict letter of the law an etrog need be no larger than an egg, the larger the etrog, the finer; likewise with the length of the lulav, myrtle and willow, people take pride in larger and longer branches.’” – Dr. Aharon Giamanti, “The ‘Four Species’ in Yemenite Tradition”, from A Divinely Given Torah for Our Day and Age, Volume II

Swing #2: “The expression of rejoicing occurs three times in connection with Sukkot. … But no such expression occurs even once regarding Pesah. This is because the fate of man’s crops is still in the balance on Pesah, and he does not know whether there will be a yield or not. Similarly, on Shavuot, only one expression of rejoicing is mentioned. … This is because the corn has already been harvested and gathered in the barn. Two expressions of rejoicing are not mentioned, because the fruit of the trees have not yet been picked and their fate is still in the balance. On Sukkot, however … when both the corn and fruit are already stored inside, three expressions of joy are justified.” – Yalkut Shimoni

Swing #3: “‘To make atonement for the first sin’ (Genesis Rabbah). Which first sin is being spoken of here? In Midrash Rabbah, Parashat Bereshit, in the verse ‘And there was evening and there was morning, one day,’ meaning one that says ‘echad.’ This is Yom Kippur. Which is to say that the first day of the six days of creation was Yom Kippur. This means, consequently, that the sixth day was the day on which Adam HaRishon, the first human being, was created, and [therefore, also] the first day of Sukkot, and on that very day, according to the reasoning of the sages, Adam ate from the tree of knowledge. So therefore, ‘And on the first day you shall take the product of hadar trees (etrogim)  … to make atonement for the first sin.’” – Kol Kol Yaakov

Late-Inning Questions: According to our commentators, why should one feel joy on Sukkot, and how should it be expressed? If we’re not feeling particularly happy around the time of Sukkot, how can we be expected to express it? How does a joyous time on our calendar contrast with simple moments of everyday joy?

On-Deck at Emanu-El: It isn’t too late to have three chances to win! Our Spring Fling will take place this Sunday from 2:00-4:00PM, where we will draw our three winner of Pennies From Heaven raffle. Plus, I’ll be in a dunking booth …

The Big Inning at the End: Speaking of joyous expressions, more and more batters tend to flip their bats in ecstasy after hitting a home run. To some, this kind of enthusiasm adds a colorful element to the game. To others, it is a form of taunting opposing pitchers. Which opinion do you find more compelling?

Shabbat Shalom!

“Well, Isn’t That Special!”: Kedoshim 2019

Pre-Game Chatter: Do you believe that “normal is boring”? To what extent do you seek out unique items, people, and experiences? Or is ordinariness underrated?

As the theme of this week’s portion is holiness, there are numerous musings about what it means to be holy:

The Pitch: “You shall possess their land, for I will give it to you to possess, a land flowing with milk and honey. I Adonai am your God who has set you apart from other peoples. So you shall set apart the pure beast from the impure, the impure bird from the pure. You shall draw abomination upon yourselves through beast or bird or anything with which the ground is alive, which I have set apart for you to treat as impure. You shall be holy to Me, for I Adonai am holy, and I have set you apart from other peoples to be Mine.” – Leviticus 20:24-26

Swing #1: “The fourfold occurrence here of the verb hibdil, ‘to set apart, separate,’ recalls its repeated occurrences in Genesis 1. In fact, these two passages account for well over a third of the attestations of the hiphil of bdl. If, as seems likely, this is not coincidence, the point would appear to be that the distinction of Israel from the nations is as fundamental to cosmic order as the separations through which God first brought order out of chaos. This is a natural implication, given that the primordial institution of the Sabbath has been made known and commanded to Israel alone. More telling is the fact that the passage just quoted views Israel’s own separation of fit from unfit foods as a continuation of the process of her own separation from the Gentiles so that even so humble an activity as eating replicates the ordering that is fundamental to God’s good world.” – Jon D. Levenson, Creation and the Persistence of Evil

Swing #2: “Oddly enough, in the midst of these moral precepts and warnings against pagan affections in the religious realm, is a reminder about the laws of cleanness. But what appears to be out of place here (and belongs instead to Leviticus 11) is attached to what has been considered out of place there. The point, however, is that the writer of Leviticus did not wish the two to be separated; cleanness and holiness are twin concepts. One cannot stand without the other.” – The New Interpreter’s Bible, Volume 1

Swing #3: “[God says,] ‘You will be special to Me, engaged in My Torah, engaged in My commandments!’ And thus Scripture states, ‘… and I have set you apart from other peoples to be Mine’. [God says,] ‘As long as you are separated from other people, you are Mine. But if not, you are Nebuchadnezzar the Wicked’s and his companions!’” – Tanhuma d’Rabbi Shimon Bar Yohai

Late-Inning Questions: How do our commentators seem to understand “holiness”? Is it best defined as being special, being unique, being separate, or some other term? When it comes to being Jewish, how holy do you have to be? Is it wrong to be like other people in some ways and uniquely Jewish in others?

On-Deck at Emanu-El: I am so grateful for all the kind words surrounding Shoshana’s Bat Mitzvah last Shabbat. And luckily for us, the celebrations in our synagogue continue: tonight, we’ll honor our Beit Din (6th grade) graduates at 6:00PM services, and tomorrow, we’ll honor our Confirmation (12th grade) graduates at our 9:30AM services.

The Big Inning at the End: How does baseball define someone who is special? Typically, those people are inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame. But, as statistician Bill James once put it, the main problem with the Hall of Fame is that it’s a self-defining institution: simply, you’re a Hall of Famer if the Hall of Fame says you are. Should the Hall of Fame include only the greatest players of all time, or should it be more expansive to tell a broader story of the game’s history?

Shabbat Shalom!

Consistency: Aharei Mot 2019

Pre-Game Chatter: Do you ever think that certain rules don’t apply to you? Are there rules – written or unwritten – that you feel are made only for a limited audience?

After the Torah text states priestly laws concerning Yom Kippur, the audience suddenly is told that all of Israel must similarly observe this sacred day:

The Pitch: “And this shall be to you a law for all time: In the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month, you shall practice self-denial; and you shall do no manner of work, neither the citizen nor the alien who resides among you.” – Leviticus 16:29

Swing #1: “The people are addressed for the first time. Heretofore [in this chapter], they were referred to in the third person. … [It] is the first of several signs that this and the following verses comprise an appendix to the text.” – Jacob Milgrom, Leviticus 1-16

Swing #2: “Not only the form, but also the content of what is said here allows only one conclusion: A congregational leader or preacher is at work here. Is it one of the priests who performed the difficult work of slaughtering and aspersing blood – and now in conclusion admonishes the congregation to keep the festival ordinances?” – Erhard S. Gerstenberger, Leviticus: A Commentary

Swing #3: “We should not think therefore that the commandment to afflict oneself on that day applies only to the non-priests. The words “to you” make it plain that it applies to the whole nation including the priests.” – Or HaChaim

Late-Inning Questions: Do our commentators believe that requiring all Israelites to afflict themselves on Yom Kippur is a Godly requirement or a priestly requirement? Why might the ancient priests feel that all Israelites need to follow the same rules they do? Are consistent laws a necessity for creating a fair society? Or are there circumstances in which different rules can equally serve the needs of different groups?

On-Deck at Emanu-El: I’d like to thank the many people who have wished my family Mazal Tov on Shoshana’s Bat Mitzvah, which takes place tomorrow. We are touched by your constant support and feel grateful for the person Shoshana is and will become.

The Big Inning at the End: Speaking of rules that apply to all people, some baseball fans advocate for replacing home-plate umpires with robots – at least when it comes to calling balls and strikes. They argue that the strike zone is interpreted differently depending on the umpire, which leads to confusion among players. Is this idea fair or foul?

Shabbat Shalom!

To Each Their Own: Shir Hashirim 2019

Pre-Game Chatter: Why are great works of art subject to vastly different interpretations? Is art that inspires boisterous debate necessarily great, or merely provocative?

Of all of the books of the Bible, perhaps no text inspires more vastly different reactions than the Song of Songs; on its surface, it is romantic poetry, but to others, it is a metaphor for religion and/or politics:

The Pitch: “My beloved is mine And I am his Who browses among the lilies.” – Song of Songs 2:16

Swing #1: “He demanded all His needs from me. He commanded only me, to make the Pesach sacrifice, sanctify the firstborn, make a Tabernacle, sacrifice burnt offerings; and He did not demand [these things] of any other nation.” – Rashi

Swing #2: “The image of the lover as shepherd, when amplified by ‘browses among the lilies’, is an erotic double entendre, especially since lilies are mentioned in connection with … [one’s] lover’s lips.” – Ariel Bloch and Chana Bloch, The Song of Songs: A New Translation

Swing #3: “ The reference to ‘grazing,’ both here and in the parallel verse in 6:3, once more suggests an invective against the king.” – Scott B. Noegel and Gary A. Rendsburg, Solomon’s Vineyard: Literary and Linguistic Studies in the Song of Songs

Late-Inning Questions: Why do you think such a divisive text was selected to be read in synagogues on the Shabbat (or second Shabbat) of Passover? Does the conversational nature of our Passover Seders help make it easier to consider a complicated text such as this? Is our religion better off consulting texts that are difficult to understand? What are the benefits and potential problems of teaching a text like this?

On-Deck at Emanu-El: We hope you’ll be here on Shabbat, not only to observe the final day of Passover and Yizkor, but also to be present when we re-dedicate our Holocaust Torah scroll, which will include participation by local Holocaust survivors as well as Synagogue youth who traveled to the National Holocaust Museum in February. Be here on Saturday the 27th for an important moment in our congregation.

The Big Inning at the End: Speaking of texts that are difficult to understand, perhaps the greatest moment of baffling baseball talk took place July 8, 1958, when Yankees manager Casey Stengel testified before Congress. It has to be read to be believed.

Chag Sameach, and very soon, Shabbat Shalom!

Matzahpalooza: Pesach 2019

Pre-Game Chatter: Do you like to eat matzah? Do you enjoy eating it year-round? If you don’t like matzah, to what extent does it diminish your affection for Passover?

Depending on your opinion, matzah may or may not be infused with taste, but to our sages, it is infused with meaning:

The Pitch: “‘This is the bread of affliction which our ancestors ate in the land of Egypt.” – The first words of the Magid section of the Haggadah

Swing #1: “Not the bread of affliction but the bread of haste. Matzah was the food that the people ate when they were liberated, not while they were enslaved.” – Baruch SheAmar

Swing #2: “The Seder begins with ‘This is the bread of poverty’ and not ‘This is like the bread of poverty,’ as it is written, ‘In order that you may see the bread that I fed you… when I brought you out of Egypt’ (Ex. 16:32).” – Divrei Negadim

Swing #3: “Why is matzah called lechem oni? It is taught: Lechem oni – because you answer with many words. Oni has the same root as the word oneh, to answer or respond.” – Shibolei HaLeket

Late-Inning Questions: What does matzah symbolize to our commentators? Is there value to eating symbolic foods, even if our taste buds don’t enjoy them? If we observe the dietary rules of Passover but eat very little matzah, are we missing out on some of the holiday’s meaning?

On-Deck at Emanu-El: Twice a year, we hold a brief Healing Service at our synagogue. It is open to anyone, but especially geared toward anyone healing from loss, be it emotional or physical. Please join us Thursday, April 26th, at 5:30PM.

The Big Inning at the End: The Miami Marlins might not have a talented team on the field, but its stadium’s Kosher food stand offers first-rate service – it even stays open on the intermediate days of Passover, offering Kosher for Passover fare.

Shabbat Shalom and Chag Kasher v’Sameach!

Too Much Information?: Metzora 2019

Pre-Game Chatter: What topics embarrass you the most? Are there topics you’re only willing to talk about in front of a select group of people? Are there topics you’ll never discuss with anyone?

We usually only whisper about the subject matter of the latter part of this week’s Torah portion:

The Pitch: “Speak to the Israelite people say to them: When any man has a discharge issuing from his member, he is impure. … When a woman has a discharge, her discharge being blood from her body, she shall remain in her menstrual separation seven days; whoever touches her shall be impure until evening.” – Leviticus 15:2, 19

Swing #1: “Reproductive blood, like shed blood, is handled carefully. The woman’s ‘source’-as-overflowing-spring is emblematic of womanhood, reminiscent of the four-branched river of Eden, and redolent with fecundity of that lushly moist primeval garden: ‘You [Shulamith] are a garden spring,/ A well of fresh water,/ A rill of Lebanon’ (Song of Songs 4:15). And so behind the niddah and Shulamith (and their evocation of Eden) stands the fount, Eve herself, ‘the mother of all living’ (Genesis 3:20).” – David Tabb Stewart, “Leviticus”, from The Queer Bible Commentary, edited by Deryn Guest, Robert E. Goss, Mona West and Thomas Bohache

Swing #2: “Gonorrhea was already known in antiquity and even then doctors were aware of the connection between sexual contact and the transmission of the disease. The common wisdom of ancient medicine and of the doctors of the Middle Ages was that this disease brought about a weakening of the tubes which transmit the sperm making them unable to contain the sperm any longer. Only since the 17th century has it become clear to doctors that the substance emitted by the patient afflicted with Gonorrhea is pus and not semen. … The Torah had already made that distinction. Rav Huna in his comments in tractate Niddah (35b) simply sharpens and defines the difference which was already well known to our ages who understood that there was no connection between gonorrhea and an emission of semen.” – Professor Yishayahu Nitzan, “Torah and Science: Gonorrhea”, from A Divinely Given Torah in Our Day and Age, Volume I

Swing #3: “The extent to which impurity radiates into the environment depends upon the severity of the deed and of the uncleanliness. The more extreme the act, the wider the area affected by transgression.” – Daniel Friedmann, To Kill and Take Possession: Law, Morality, and Society in Biblical Stories

Late-Inning Questions: Is it embarrassing to read this post? If so, why? What are the downsides to making a topic taboo? What are the upsides? What does it say about a society that avoids speaking of certain subjects in so-called “polite company”?

On-Deck at Emanu-El: Busy cleaning for Passover? Don’t forget to sell your chametz (leavened products) before it’s too late! Now you can click here and take care of this online.

The Big Inning at the End: Speaking of too much information, there’s a growing sense that baseball only will remain popular if its top stars are fully accessible to the public, especially on social media. Is this a fair expectation for professional athletes?

Shabbat Shalom!

Week-ness: Tazria 2019

Pre-Game Chatter: What is an ideal amount of time for a vacation? Is a one-week excursion enough time to return rested and refreshed? Or do you need more time, or perhaps less?

While our Torah portion does not speak of vacations, it does speak of people with a skin condition who must leave the community for seven days — so that, presumably, that amount of time will be enough to rejoin society positively:

The Pitch: “But if the priest finds that there is no white hair in it and it is not lower than the rest of the skin, and it is faded, the priest shall isolate him for seven days.” – Leviticus 13:21

Swing #1: “The anxiety about leprosy: Was it just paranoid primitive ignorance, or a foresighted public health precaution? The priests are instructed to quarantine those with skin diseases. Perhaps this is the first recorded example of a public health campaign.” – David Plotz, Good Book

Swing #2: “The verse should be understood as follows: ‘even though the symptom of the affected skin does not appear lower than that surrounding it, but the intensity of the discoloration has not diminished, this is sufficient reason for the priest to place the person in isolation, even if the hair in that area has not turned white; in other words, if the intensity of the discoloration did diminish, it is clear that the person afflicted will be declared ritually pure.’” – Chizkuni

Swing #3: “The minimum time of such an isolation is seven days, which is how long the isolation is for a person. The maximum time is three weeks, which is only for a house.” – Mishnah Yomit on Mishnah Arakhin

Late-Inning Questions: Do our commentators seem to think that isolating someone with this skin disease is more for the benefit of the afflicted one or of society as a whole? When is it most beneficial to separate from society? When we isolate ourselves from the outside world, how do we know when we’re ready to rejoin it?

On-Deck at Emanu-El: Tomorrow, we’ll be honored to welcome Kate Smith of the Jewish National Fund. JNF continues to do important work benefiting Israeli society in a way that transcends politics. Please join us at services tomorrow to hear her speak of some of the organization’s important work.

The Big Inning at the End: Speaking of separating from society, there were countless rumors of where Sandy Koufax spent Yom Kippur in 1965 — the famous day he declined to pitch the first game of the World Series so that he could observe the Day of Atonement. Congregants of numerous synagogues insisted that they saw Koufax in their pews, but the truth is that he spent the day alone in his hotel room, observing the day with the same quiet dignity that has marked his entire life.

Shabbat Shalom!

Pork Barreling: Shemini 2019

Pre-Game Chatter: Do you keep Kosher? If you do, what about doing so is most difficult? If you don’t, what is the biggest obstacle that prevents you from doing so?

As our portion lists the animals the Israelites are allowed and not allowed to eat, perhaps the most prominent non-Kosher animal is granted a mere sentence in our text:

The Pitch: “And the swine – although it has true hoofs, with the hoofs cleft through, it does not chew the cud: it is impure for you.” – Leviticus 11:7

Swing #1: “Interestingly, in the high country in the eastern part of Canaan, where Israelite population was concentrated toward the end of the second millennium BCE, the percentage of pig bones discovered is only a fraction of what it is in the Canaanite lowlands. This suggests that the taboo [against eating pork] was already generally embraced by the Israelites at an early period (well before the composition of the Torah) and also that some Israelites chose to disregard it.” – Robert Alter, The Five Books of Moses: A Translation With Commentary

Swing #2: “The Torah uses these words as a condition, i.e. as long as the pig has not reverted to chewing the cud it may not be eaten. In the future, when it undergoes evolutionary changes so that it will become a ruminant, it will again be fit to be eaten by Jews. It is not the Torah which will adapt to ‘realities,’ but ‘reality’ which will adapt to Torah; the laws of the Torah are immutable, the nature of the pig is not.” – Or HaHayim

Swing #3: “I maintain that the food which is forbidden by the Law is unwholesome. There is nothing among the forbidden kinds of food whose injurious character is doubted, except pork and fat. But also in these cases the doubt is not justified. For pork contains more moisture than necessary [for human food], and too much of superfluous matter. The principal reason why the Law forbids swine’s flesh is to be found in the circumstance that its habits and its food are very dirty and loathsome. It has already been pointed out how emphatically the Law enjoins the removal of the sight of loathsome objects, even in the field and in the camp; how much more objectionable is such a sight in towns. But if it were allowed to eat swine’s flesh, the streets and houses would be more dirty than any cesspool, as may be seen at present in the country of the Franks.” – Moses Maimonides, Guide For the Perplexed

Late-Inning Questions: Why might our commentators suspect that the pig is, in many circles, the “ultimate” non-Kosher animal? Why is it not unheard-of for some Jews to avoid eating pork but eat other non-Kosher things (such as shellfish and/or cheeseburgers)? Is keeping Kosher an all-or-nothing proposition? Or are there gradations of Kashrut observance that should be recognized?

On-Deck at Emanu-El: Please join me as we resume our “Tuesdays with Rabbi” series on April 2nd and 9th, both from 6:00-7:00PM. These classes will exam why the prophet Elijah is invited to our Seders. If you can’t make it in person, look for my feed on Facebook Live!

The Big Inning at the End: The word “pork” is another word for pig, but it’s also a metaphor for things that ought to be unnecessary (such as the “pork” that is added to a governmental bill to satisfy a small number of lawmakers). One might describe the many hidden costs of attending a Major League Baseball game, as detailed today in Deadspin, as an example of big-league pork!

Shabbat Shalom!

Opening Day: Tzav 2019

Pre-Game Chatter: What was your most memorable first day of school? First day of work? First day of anything? What made those first days particularly memorable?

As the priests of the Tabernacle start their first day of Divine service, God has a lengthy inauguration ceremony in store:

The Pitch: “‘Take Aaron along with his sons, and the vestments, the anointing oil, the bull of sin offering, the two rams, and the basket of unleavened bread; and assemble the community leadership at the entrance of the Tent of Meeting.’ Moses did as Adonai commanded him. And when the leadership was assembled at the entrance of the Tent of Meeting, Moses said to the leadership, ‘This is what Adonai has commanded to be done.’” – Leviticus 8:2-5

Swing #1: “The ritual [of the priestly ordination] represents one of the more complex biblical rituals with a significant number of participants. [Leviticus 8] clearly describes a founding ritual, which is designed to bring into existence a certain state, institution, or situation, which is different from a maintenance ritual. The human participants in the ordination of Leviticus 8 play a voluntary part, which cannot be said for other ritual participants, such as the animals that were involved in the sacrificial subrites.” – Gerald A. Klingbeil, Bridging the Gap: Ritual and Ritual Texts in the Bible

Swing #2: “Here, concretely, is an illustration of the Biblical overlap between experience and tradition. Aaron and his sons had been washed; they had been dressed carefully in their vestments; the anointing oil had been sprinkled on the altar seven times, and then on Aaron’s head; the sacrifices of the sin offering, the burnt offering, and the offering of ordination had been made according to the laws of sacrifice; those parts of the animals that had to be burned into smoke were burned into smoke, those parts of the animal that had to be placed outside the camp were placed outside the camp; the unleavened bread, the cake of oil bread, and the wafer had been deployed also according to decree; then a second sin offering, then a second burnt offering … even in the great strangeness of the priestly cult, the Jew can recognize the universe of the Commandments, of the law, of the ritual – of what would come to be known as the tradition.” – Leon Wieselthier, “Leviticus”, from Congregation, David Rosenberg, editor

Swing #3: “By placing sacrificial blood on the priest’s extremities, the Torah indicates that the newly ordained kohen has passed through a transitional moment from being a private citizen to becoming a representative of God and a public leader. Ear, hand, and foot – and abbreviated code for his entire body – emphasize that service to one’s highest ideals, to one’s people, or to one’s God must be total. Through his induction into the Temple ritual, the kohen entered a higher state of purity, devotion, and service. To become a nation of priests requires of us no less.” – Rabbi Bradley Shavit Artson, The Bedside Torah

Late-Inning Questions: According to our commentators, does the inauguration rituals described in our portion set a specific mood for the priests? What mood is it? Should the supervisors of these workers be responsible for creating that mood? To what extent are we responsible for motivating ourselves to do well at our jobs?

On-Deck at Emanu-El: Please join us Tuesday, March 26th, at 7:00PM, when we’ll meet Rabbi Sharon Shalom and learn about Ethiopian Jewish Thought. This event is free and open to the public.

The Big Inning at the End: Speaking of Opening Day, I know that it’s important for Major League Baseball to market their game in foreign countries, but the fact that the regular season already began for the Seattle Mariners and Oakland Athletics, who played two games against one another in Japan this week, while everyone else still has a week of Spring Training, is too much for this fan to take. Stop teasing us – let the real games begin!

Shabbat Shalom!