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Welcome from Rabbi Aura
As spring is all around us, I can’t help but connect where we are in Torah with where we are in the life of our community, our congregation, and our Jewish cycle of the year.
We’re nearing the end of Vayikrah, The Book of Leviticus, which contains the Holiness Code. The word “vayikra” means “And [God] called.” The very term implies relationship, for if there is a call, then there is response… or, perhaps, the hope of a response? What is calling to you this season? What is arising in your life that deserves or even demands a response?
In the congregational community, a few key moments are coming up quickly. For one, the Shabbat service on Saturday, May 16 will honor a year of learning in our Family School, with gifts for the students, honors for our teachers, andbrachot (blessings) for all. Moments like these are not only special for those enrolled in our religious school; they are celebrations for us as a Jewish community, because they represent the flourishing of our tradition, the continuation of identity, and the fullness of life. One of Judaism’s precepts is to cultivate an attitude joy towards life. “Beware of anything that threatens to take away your joy,” warns Rabbi Arthur Green. “In the end, it will probably take you away from God as well.” I hope that you’ll choose to celebrate life at this special service, no matter what your connection to Jewish life is.
When we open in the Torah to the center-most book, Leviticus, and read the opening word of “vayikra,” we are reminded that each of us is called upon, in holiness, to respond to the call of life. Something as mundane as an annual congregational meeting (May 21) can actually be one of the ways in which we are called, as Jews, to participate in our larger community of fellow-travelers. This year will be my first such meeting with all of you. My hope is that many of you will attend, bringing with you your ideas for the coming year, your energy, and your willingness to bring some of those ideas to fruition. I’ll be sharing some of my observations from my first (almost-complete) year here, and some of my hopes for the future, as well. We in the leadership need you as our thought partners and holy helpers. I hope to see you there!
The Book of Leviticus, Vayikrah, concludes the week before Shavuot. Then, just as we begin a new book, the Book of Numbers, we enter into Shavuot, the holiday of receiving Torah. Ironically, the richness of receiving revelation arrives as we enter into the book of Torah known, in Hebrew, as Bamidbar, or “Into the desert.” How is it that entering the desert, with its arid emptiness, is married to the moment of receiving Torah, with its associations with “living waters,” “tree of life,” and other metaphors that burst with abundance? Beyond the obvious answer (we received Torah in the desert) lie, I believe, some of the richest and most meaningful explorations of what it means to receive revelation that we can have. You can come learn, explore, and receive for yourself by attending a Shavuot dinner and late-night study session on Saturday night, May 23 (RSVP required for the dinner). I will teach “Pulse of the Universe: The Divine Ratzo va’shov,” followed by Rabbi Jonathan teaching “Listening for the Aleph”.
What is calling to you this season? What is arising in your life that deserves or even demands a response? May you be blessed with the ability to respond to the fullness of life with the fullness of your being, knowing that you are part of a community of support.