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D'var Torah:
Weekly Torah Portion Commentary

Emor - 5/16/24

Torah portion Emor contains one of the primary passages in the Torah that describes our festival season as it existed in biblical times.  It begins with Shabbat, continues with the spring festivals of Pesach and Shavuot, and then on to the fall holidays of Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, and Sukkot. (Lev. 23) (Simchat Torah is post-biblical). In her spiritual-practice commentary on the Torah, Shefa Gold explains how she uses the flow of the seasons to find inner renewal. (Torah Journeys, p. 125) Pesach, Shavuot, and Sukkot, she writes, connect us to the cycles of planting and harvest so that we can consider how death leads to renewal in our lives. 

Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur allow us to enter a cycle of reflection, which we all need to “uncover our blemishes” and then return to God.  The Jewish calendar even bids us pay attention to the “swelling and shrinking of the moon” leading us to consider the beauty in knowing that moments of light and darkness take turns in our lives. From such inner reflections, we can grow as human beings and bring more equanimity into our lives and perhaps to the world.

-Rabbi Dena A. Feingold


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