Shabbat Message, April 9, 2021, Parashat Shemini – Pirkei Avot

Click HERE (video) for Torah study with Rashi Consciously Choosing Kosher Elevates the Soul. The Torah uses unique verbs to describe the process of mitzvah engagement and the reasons behind them. Rashi emphasizes the one use of the verb “ma’aleh” in the five books of Torah to emphasize how commandments “bring us up” and elevate us. Whether we are talking about kosher menus or other mitzvot, our engaging the sacred commandments of our tradition through an act of our free wills elevates the soul and helps us achieve what is holy. We may know what is good for us, but without choosing to engage it we neither have agency nor attain higher levels of being..

Click HERE (video) for the sermon Heavy Responsibilities, Holy Opportunities. This past week we commemorated Yom HaShoah u’Gevurah, Holocaust Remembrance and Heroism Day. Plus, we read Parshat Shemini whose narrative ark goes from the inner, sacred space of the Mishkan (portable tabernacle) to the everyday space of our lives as individuals. Sometimes we need kohanim, sometimes soldiers, and sometimes a kosher pickle!

Click HERE (video) for Show Your Face, “Do Not Separate Yourself from the Community.” Between Pesah and Shavuot we study the Mishnaic tractate Pirke Avot. How does Hillel’s famous teaching apply to our ZOOM minyanim and inhabiting virtual, communal space? As we think more deeply about our presence in virtual realities our ancient sources have much to say about why a picture or just calling in, or a name on screen, may not be enough. More to come.