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Posts Tagged Rabbi Ariel Stone

Shabbat Parah 5774: How Do You Justify Your Ethics?

Shalom Shir Tikvah Learning Community, This week’s parashat hashavua, called Shemini, is once again embellished with a special reading for a special Shabbat, Shabbat Parah. It is one of several which precede Pesakh and, by their themes, remind us to prepare for the great Festival in certain necessary ways. The very fact that we read an extra text of the Torah signals the surpasing importance of the Festival of Matzah. Compare it to the High Holy Days, which are only preceded by special Haftarah readings, and you can see that the Pesakh holy day period is historically of far greater significance. Why? and how did Pesakh, admittedly still important, lose ground to Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur? (If you don’t believe that it did, consider your own feelings toward the two holy day periods: which one would you assume was more important? A special meal with a long story, or an

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Shabbat Zakhor and Purim 5774: Laugh It Off

Here comes Purim, the better to liven up the book of Leviticus! Our parashah for this week is Tzav, “command”, in the imperative form of the word, no less. And yet Torah comes first; Purim begins at the close of Shabbat, tomorrow. This Shabbat is called Shabbat Zakhor; it always precedes Purim (this year not by much). It reminds us to forget. And this is only the first of the curious inversions of the Purim holiday period: 1. We are commanded in the special extra Torah reading for this Shabbat to “remember to blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven” (Deut.25.19) 2. We are commanded in the regular reading of the parashat hashavua to light a fire an eternal flame: “fire shall be kept burning upon the altar continuously; it shall not go out.” (Lev. 6.6) 3. We are commanded by the mitzvot of the holy day of

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Shabbat Shekalim: Tax Time in Ancient Israel

This Shabbat, on which we are reading Pekudei as the parashat hashavua, is also known as Shabbat Shekalim. Yes, the Shabbat of the Shekels. This special Shabbat is not necessarily tied to the parashah called Pekudei, but it’s not entirely inappropriate, since this last reading in Exodus consists of an audit of the records (in Hebrew, “records” is pekudim) as well as the account of, finally, the erection of the Mishkan, the space the Israelites are constructing in order to have a designated place for their kavanah (spiritual intention). Thus the place is called the place to meet G-d, although everyone agrees that no one space contains the holy. This Shabbat is called Shekalim because it is the first of four special Shabbatot that focus on the upcoming Festival of Pesakh. Shabbat Shekalim always occurs on the Shabbat before Rosh Hodesh (the beginning of the month of) Adar (or Adar

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Shabbat VaYakhel 5774: Kehillah

Shalom Shir Tikvah Learning Community, The name of this week’s parashah is VaYakhel, from the word kahal, or kehillah – “gathering”. The people are gathering for the purpose of building the Mishkan, the sacred space that will be dedicated to their longing to feel G-d’s presence. They are gathered together not as the am, the people, and not as the eydim, the witnesses who entered into the Covenant; here, our ancestors, working together on building a place, are the kehillah.    There’s a necessary balance here between two concepts which exist in an inevitable tension: our sense of the independent value of each human being, and the vital importance to our lives of meaningful community. Each person is to bring the gift of her or his own ability and willingness, and all must be woven into a coherent whole. A building is not well-built without careful plans, and a community

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Shabbat Ki Tisa 5774: Those Who Stand and Wait

Shalom Shir Tikvah Learning Community, The middle third of the parashah on this Shabbat, Ki Tisa, begins with Moshe on Mt Sinai receiving the Word of G-d in the form of “tablets of testimony written with the finger of G-d.” (Exodus 31.18) At the same time the Israelites, who are waiting below in the valley, become restive. What’s taking so long? For the literally mind-blown Moshe, time had ceased to exist. According to one midrash, for forty days he neither ate nor drank, but simply existed, basking in the Divine Presence. It is the first example in Jewish tradition of a state of being which is now called a mystical experience. Moshe was no longer of this world; as the Israeli Nobel laureate in literature Shai Agnon put it in his story HaSiman, “The Sign”, in words informed by the language of the Zohar, the primary text of Jewish mystical

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Shabbat Mishpatim 5774: Equality Before the Law

Shalom Shir Tikvah Learning Community, Last week we stood together at Sinai, and entered into the covenant with our G-d as a community, all equally necessary, equally precious. The text itself expresses this in unspecific language: And Moses brought forth the people [et ha’am] out of the camp to meet God; and they stood at the nether part of the mount. (Ex.19.17) Et ha’am, “the people”, can as easily refer to the men, representing each household, as to all the adults, or even all the Israelites, of all ages and genders. It may also be fair to simply note that the Sinai experience was so overwhelming that it could not be communicated in detail. This is hinted at by the text itself, since we are only told of nine (or ten, depending upon your interpretation) laws incumbent upon Israelites through the Covenant relationship. The details of the laws are the

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Why Mysticism Matters—An Intimate Conversation with Rabbi Ariel Stone, Thursday, Feb. 6, 7:30 pm

For many Jews today, our mystical heritage has become burdened by association with antiquity, irrationality, exclusivity, or—more recently—a sort of trendy broadly-sourced spiritualism. In her book Because All Is One, Rabbi Ariel Stone offers a detailed scholarly exploration of some of our most profound mystical traditions, and makes a compelling argument for their relevance to the experience of contemporary Jews. We invite you to join us on February 6th for an interview-style talk with Rabbi Stone. Focused on the intellectual journey that led her to this topic and on her understanding of what it can mean to live a modern mystical Jewish life, the evening will provide a personal introduction to her book as well as to her upcoming Melton Course on the subject. Noted radio journalist Ketzel Levine will interview Rabbi Ariel. There will be time for questions at the evening’s end. At our shul, 7550 NE Irving St.,

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