The Parsha of the Week

Congregation B'nai Torah

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      Torah Portions of the Weeks - From

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                                         September 21-22 -  Sukkot 1st and 2nd Day -Leviticus 21:1-23:44  

                      Parashat Emor describes purity rules for priests (Kohanim), recounts the holy days, describes the preparations

                      for the lights and bread in the sanctuary, and tells the story of a blasphemer and his punishment. Parts of it is                       read on Sukkot.

                       September 16 - Yom Kippur Acharei Mos, Leviticus 16:1-34


The Torah portion read on Yom Kippur begins with Aharon, the High Priest, being instructed in the Yom Kippur service. He is told what clothing to wear and to bring a sin-offering bull to atone for himself and his household; then to cast lots on the two goats -- one for the Almighty, one for Azazel. The order of the service is set forth for offerings in order to provide atonement for the Jewish people. We are instructed to refrain from engaging in melacha -- the 39 categories of creative acts (usually inaccurately referred to as "work") that were utilized to build the portable sanctuary in the desert. Lastly, we are told that this is an eternal decree to bring atonement for the Children of Israel.

                       September 18 -  Ha'azinu, Deuteronomy 32:1 - 32:51

The Torah portion is a song, a poem taught to the Jewish people by Moses. It recounts the trials and tribulations of the Jewish people during the 40 years in the desert. Jewish consciousness, until the present generation, was to teach every Jewish child to memorize Ha'azinu. In this manner we internalized the lessons of our history, especially the futility of rebelling against the Almighty.  

The portion ends with Moses being told to ascend Mount Nevo to see the Promised Land before he dies and is "gathered to his people." By the way, this is one of the allusions to an afterlife in the Torah. Moses died alone and no one knows where he is buried. Therefore, "gathered to his people" has a higher meaning!

                                         September 27 -  Sukkot 7th Day - Numbers 29:26-34

             The seventh day of Sukkot is called Hoshana Rabbah, and is considered the final day of the divine “judgment” in which the fate of the new year is determined. It is the day when the verdict that was issued on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur is finalized.  The Midrash tells us that G-d told Abraham: “If atonement is not granted to your children on Rosh Hashanah, I will grant it on Yom Kippur; if they do not attain atonement on Yom Kippur, it will be given on Hoshana Rabbah.”        

                                         September 25 -  Shabbat Chol-Hamoed -Leviticus 21:1-23:44  

             The Torah portion has the infamous story of the Golden Calf. The people wrongly calculated that Moses was late in coming down from Mt. Sinai and the people were already seeking a replacement for him by making the Golden Calf (there is a big lesson in patience for us here). Moses sees them dancing around the calf and in anger breaks the Two Tablets; he then punishes the 3,000 wrongdoers (less than .1% of the 3 million people), pleads to God not to wipe out the people, requests to see the Divine Glory, and receives the second set of Tablets of the Ten Commandments.         

                                         October 2 -  Bereishis, Genesis 1:1 - 6:8  

The Five Books of Moses begins with the Six Days of Creation, the Shabbat, the story of the Garden of Eden -- the first transgression, consequences and expulsion; Cain & Abel, the ten generations to Noah, the Almighty sees the wickedness of man in that generation and decrees to "blot out man" (i.e. the flood).

One of the most profound verses in the whole Torah is "And God created man in His own Image." Since God does not have a physical being, this means that we are endowed with free-will, morality, reason, and the ability to emulate God Who bestows kindness. Also, if we really appreciate that we are created in the image of God, we realize that we have intrinsic worth. Therefore, there is no need to be depressed wondering if you have intrinsic worth!