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Focusing on giving meaning to life

05/15/2019 01:37:31 PM


Jeff Remz

The passage of time is a key focus of this week’s Torah reading, Emor. The parshah lays out the Jewish calendar, starting with Shabbat as a day of rest apart from the other six days of the week, to Pesach/Passover, the festival of our freedom and redemption from Egypt and the counting of the Omer, which prepares us for Shavuot when we received the Torah from God. Rosh Hashana, the start of the new year, Yom Kippur, when we look inward and consider rights and wrongs, Sukkot and Shemini Atzeret, a time when God provided protection for us on our journey from Egypt to the Promised Land, follow.
Basic instructions are given to the kohanim (priests)  about what to sacrifice, how long the celebration is and a bit more.
If only reading the text of Emor - for example, the details of the sacrifice and whether it is a meal, peace, sin or fire offering – it doesn't seem particularly relevant for today’s world.
Instead, what may be more important for us today is how these various days serve as vivid reminders of the need to stop, contemplate and participate. They are a time to take a breath and step away from the typical rat race of our lives. Yes, we have work, school, dance and sports for our kids as part of the regular, sometimes mundane, hectic rhythm of our lives. While important, are they the sum and total of our lives? Our spiritual lives? Not that getting into the spiritual side is easy to do by any stretch. Thus, the existence of regular time and spiritual time, according to Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks.
As Rabbi Sacks wrote, “The Torah forces us to remember what contemporary culture regularly forgets: that our lives must have dedicated times when we focus on the things that give life a meaning.”
Jeff Remz is the Communications and Marketing Director of Temple Shalom

Sun, November 17 2019 19 Cheshvan 5780