Tag Archives: Days of Awe

Aim for holiness in the New Year

Torah-Inspired, Days of Awe Reflection of The Day…

Today we look at K’doshim, Leviticus 19:1 – 20:27 – the holiness code, a list of behaviors that Jews identify as fulfilling the verse that appears early in this reading:

Lev. 19:2 Speak to the entire community of the Israelites, and say to them: Holy are you to be, for holy am I, Adonai your God!

Jews tend to read this section as describing how God intends us to be holy – namely by adhering to these standards. The verse serves as an introduction to the behaviors and rituals that follow.

This says that holiness is not other-worldly, not some distant divine essence. Rather, to be holy is to be distinct – to separate ourselves by following paths of good actions. To be holy is to distinguish our behavior, just like creating holiness for a time or space is about setting aside that time and space as special and different from other events and locations.

On this Day of Repentance, that starts this evening, let us all try and find some way to distinguish ourselves. May we make this year one where our actions bring holiness into the world.

G’mar Chatimah Tovah – may we all be well-inscribed for the New Year.

Good Citizenship Requires Individual Participation

Shanah Tovah everyone! Happy Second Day of 5773!

Today we look at Va-Yikra, Leviticus 1:1 – 5:26 – the first reading of Leviticus.

Leviticus opens with a lot of talk of offerings – the different kinds of things we must offer up on an altar in ancient Israelite religious practices.

We no longer do these, so what can they teach us?

Community rules count – when we miss the mark and hurt someone, we have probably violated an ethical code of our community as well. So we apologize to the person we’ve hurt, make amends, and then pay a penalty to the community for disrespecting the civics of our society as well.

We are all connected, and our actions have repercussions beyond the individual.

During these Days of Awe we are called upon to confess publicly for exactly this reason – as individual members of a community we need to repair our standards together.

Accepting our limits allows us to go farther

Tomorrow night is Rosh HaShanah – the daily Elul thought will transform into daily thought for the High Holy Days or Days of Awe, as the month of Elul will end, and become the month of Tishrei. Make sure to take time out to acknowledge the Jewish New Year on Sunday night, and Monday, and Tuesday. L’shanah tovh u’metukah – a good and sweet new year to everyone!

Today we look at Va-yak-heil, Exodus 35:1 – 38:20 – the gathering of the donations to build the Tabernacle, and the fashioning of the pieces and construction takes place.

Perhaps the only not-for profit effort in all time to be so enthusiastically completed, as it says here in Exodus, Chapter 36:
5: …The people are bringing much more than enough for the service of (doing) the work that God has commanded, to make it!
6 So Moses commanded and they had a call go throughout the camp, saying: Man and woman-let them not make-ready any further work-material for the contribution of the Holy-shrine! So the people were stopped from bringing;
7 the work-material was enough for them, for all the work, to make it, and more.

As we think about Elul, we might look back on the last year and note how often we felt the opposite of this. How often did we feel depleted and without the resources to complete the tasks we set before us?

Is this about the demands made upon us by our tasks, or is it about the number of tasks and the details we promise to get done?

When the task is finite, we can complete it with enthusiasm. If the goals we have set require work without end, we mistreat ourselves as unlimited resources.

For the year to come, let us try to set ourselves reasonable tasks – and find ourselves bringing more than enough to them.

We must treat this world’s existence as limited in order to better find connections with the infinite.

I know I will be working on this for a long time!