Challah of Fame: Shelakh Lekha 2022

by Adam J. Rosenbaum

Pre-Game Chatter: Do you believe that it’s possible to follow every one of God’s commandments? If not, how do you choose which ones to follow and which ones to ignore?

The consequences of not following any one of the commandments are listed, interestingly enough, after the command to make challah:

The Pitch: “If you unwittingly fail to observe any one of the commandments that Adonai has declared to Moses …” – Numbers 15:22

Swing #1: “The observance of the commandment to take challah because one believes that all which man has is derived from the Lord, and that therefore the first portion of whatever man possesses must be given to the Lord as an offering of gratitude, constitutes the most effective repudiation of paganism.” – Avnei Ezel

Swing #2: “A very helpful discussion of the spectrum of moral faults can be found in [the work of] Roy E. Gane … [who] distinguishes three levels of moral faults: (1) least serious inadvertent sins (Numbers 15:22-29), (2) intermediate non defiant sins (Leviticus 5; Numbers 5), and (3) most serious defiant sins (Numbers 15:30-31).” – Gerald A. Klingbeil, Bridging the Gap: Ritual and Ritual Texts in the Bible

Swing #3: “We are taught in Horiot 8 that this verse speaks about someone who commits the sin of idolatry. … The message of the verse is that if someone worships idols he effectively rejects all the positive as well as all the negative commandments which make up Judaism.” – Or HaChaim

Late-Inning Questions: What do our commentators believe is the significance of the placement of these consequences? Can the opposite be true — in other words, can baking challah lead us to follow other commandments? How essential is it to establish regular habits for ourselves?

On-Deck at TBT: Synagogue should be a place to celebrate joy, and we’ve been fortunate to do so lately — one week after the aufruf of Eric Mandel and Chloe Greenfield, we’ll have the chance this Saturday to celebrate Rusty and Joe Zackheim’s milestone anniversary. Hope to see you there starting at 9:30 a.m.

The Big Inning at the End: Speaking of regular habits, an intriguing video this week showed the Mets’ Max Scherzer going through his routine of psyching himself up before a start … at a minor-league rehabilitation game. I guess the best ones know how to stay on point.

Shabbat Shalom!