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Connecting today to the mysterious red heifer

06/21/2018 10:13:08 AM


Ellie Goldman

Chukkat, this week’s Torah portion, contains the mysterious laws about the sacrifice of the red heifer, a specific process used in ancient purification rituals. None of the laws around the red heifer apply to us today. There is no priesthood. There is no Mishkan (tabernacle). There certainly is no animal sacrifice.
So, why do we need this? Why don’t we simply discard it along with the other 244 commandments that are no longer applicable our lives in the diaspora? Perhaps yearly practice of reading and studying
ALL of Torah, even the elements that may be obsolete, reminds us that we must maintain a firm connection to our past.
There is value in asking why standards were established by those who came before us and in understanding the intentions behind their thoughtful choices. As Reform Jews, we understand our obligation to modernize, to evolve, to grow and change with each new generation, but as Jews, our connection to the past keeps us grounded and stable.
In the coming months, our community will formally install our new rabbis and we look forward to renewed investment in our future and in our building, but we will do so always with our feet planted proudly in our long history and in gratitude to those who built the foundation on which we stand.

Sun, November 17 2019 19 Cheshvan 5780