Rabbi Feingold's D'var Torah

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In the second part of this week's double Torah portion, we find The Holiness Code, Leviticus 19. It is a list of laws regarding interpersonal ethical and moral behavior. This passage also has been used by the Reform Movement as the afternoon Torah reading on Yom Kippur. Having just received a copy of the new High Holy Day prayer book (mahzor), Mishkan HaNefesh, that will debut at Beth Hillel this fall, I am learning about all that is has to offer. It has extraordinary new concepts, while remaining true to the traditional liturgy. One of the mahzor's innovations is that it offers new alternatives for Torah readings for each High Holy Day service, and it provides commentary and teaching on each one. Our Ritual Committee will decide how to deal with the alternatives the new Mahzor presents. For example, will we still read Leviticus 19 every year at the Yom Kippur mincha service? And how will we use the commentary on it, if at all? If you are interested in previewing the mahzor and being part of the decision-making, please contact Hope Ronske or join us at our next Ritual Committee meeting on Tuesday, May 26 at 6:30pm!

This week's double parasha contains laws about people with some kind of physical ailment or dramatic bodily function, e.g. childbirth. It is interesting that these body issues are dealt with in a religious/spiritual context. Religious rituals are prescribed, and, sometimes, religious leaders, priests, are called in to make pronouncements about the afflicted person's status in the community. Even though the rituals prescribed are archaic and, at times, incomprehensible, we can relate to the concept of there being a spiritual dimension to the awareness of the functioning of our bodies, both when they work and amaze us (as in childbirth) and when they don't and we suffer the results. When we heal from afflictions and especially when we witness the birth of a child, we are in awe of the functioning of our bodies and the goodness in our lives. We thank God, as in the words of the prayer Asher Yatzar from the morning service: "Blessed are You, Adonai, who heals all flesh, working wondrously." (Mishkan Tefilah, p. 194)

This week's parasha contains a list of "clean" and "unclean" animals that constitute, in part, what is permitted and forbidden for "kashrut," the Jewish dietary laws. We are prone to ask "why," but the Torah provides no explanation. However, explanations abound in later Jewish literature. Rabbi Richard N. Levy suggests that we are forbidden from eating certain categories of animals (birds of prey, "bottom feeders" in the water, animals whose behavior is not dignified [e.g. pigs]), to remind us that we human beings are to elevate ourselves above this level, seeking holiness in our lives. See: 

http://www.reformjudaism.org/learning/torah-study/shmini-ii/diet-holiness.

I do not keep strictly kosher, but I do refrain from ingesting the list of forbidden animals. I do it primarily to remind myself that I am a Jew and, therefore, live differently than others. But, I like the idea that limiting what I eat elevates my humanity as well. I would like to hear from others who keep some form of kashrut. Why do you do it, and how would you encourage others to try it out for themselves as a Jewish practice? I invite you to email me your answers, and I will compile and share them with others—without attribution, if you so indicate.

February FOOD OF THE MONTH: Oatmeal

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URJ Weekly Torah Commentary

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This Week at BHT

20 Feb 2018
07:00PM - 09:00PM
Israel's Milestones and Their Meanings Class
21 Feb 2018
05:30PM -
Adult Hebrew Beginner Class
21 Feb 2018
06:30PM -
Adult Hebrew Continuing Class
22 Feb 2018
12:00PM - 01:00PM
Lake County “Lunch and Learns”
22 Feb 2018
06:30PM - 07:30PM
Taste of Mussar
23 Feb 2018
07:30PM -
Shabbat
25 Feb 2018
09:45AM - 10:45AM
Mindful Yoga | Low Back Pain-Try Yoga
25 Feb 2018
10:00AM -
Carnival Pur
27 Feb 2018
04:00PM -
Shalom Center Soup Kitchen
28 Feb 2018
05:15PM -
Dinner
28 Feb 2018
06:30PM -
Erev Pur Family Service/Megillah
02 Mar 2018
05:45PM -
Kabbalat Shabbat
02 Mar 2018
07:00PM -
Share Shabbat Dinner
03 Mar 2018
09:15AM - 10:15AM
Torah Study
03 Mar 2018
10:30AM -
Learner's Minyan | Kitah Gimel and Dalet on bima
04 Mar 2018
09:30AM - 11:30AM
Great Decisions
04 Mar 2018
09:30AM - 10:45AM
Introduction to Judaism