Torah Study Notes 4-22-17

April 22, 2017

The Rabbi Slept Late! https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Friday_the_Rabbi_Slept_Late

Not really, but this morning we gathered outside and socialized while waiting for the Rabbi. RB: Last week there were questions about the dates for the priesthood: First Temple was destroyed in 586. Solomon died in 930 BCE so we know that there was animal sacrificing happening at that time. The origins of the priesthood probably date back to that time as well. Remember that much of this is retrojection and likely incorporated extant practices into past events. In Israel the Bible is taught as history – in order to assert a claim to the land. Biblical teaching there starts with Kings – rather than Genesis.

We note that there are various versions of some of the events contained within the Torah. Just as there are four Gospels. This raises the question as to how we should approach God  – via the Torah or through something more internal and personal. Or both.  Obviously, different theologies have grown out of these approaches – just as between Catholics and Protestants. Does this matter? The stories are what bind us together as a people. That is what makes them important. LL: It could be argued that it is the discussion; the utilization of our minds and the consequent sense of community that is the “Thou’ of Martin Buber. See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martin_Buber

Page 707 We have just had the ordination of priests, here we address different kinds of sacrifices. Animal sacrifice is highly problematic theologically and very contrary to modern notions of worship.

9:1 The purgation offering. See Essays on page 734 and 705. Also, the burnt offering. This is happening on the eighth day of the ordination of the priests. The eighth day indicates starting over at a new level – one more than whole. Also, a return to “normal.” The peoples purgation offering, the meal offering, the sacrifice of wellbeing. Note the “elevation offering.” What does “presence” mean here? It could mean the smoke. It is unclear as to what made the people “fall on their faces.” A belief that God was present? How does G manifest to the blind and the deaf? Fire can be sensed by four of the five senses. This is a description of “doing it right.” insofar as the rituals are concerned.

10:1 Now come Aaron’s sons Nadah and Abihu. Alien fire consumes them. “You must distinguish between the sacred and profane…” But how does one distinguish? What is the good to the community that comes from this? Why can’t they mourn? Why hasn’t God warned them of the penalty for minor transgressions. Why is Moses explaining this rather than God? Aaron is not allowed to mourn because he is in the middle of the ritual practice. Today Cohanim are not allowed to go to a cemetery or to touch a dead body. The leadership has an obligation to strictly adhere to the proper procedures. They are held to a higher standard.  But what is the “alien fire.?” Compare the story of the Tower of Babel and arrogantly getting too close to God. Consider as well the story of Icarus. See verse nine where God tells Aaron not to drink wine during the ritual – were they drunk? The Rabbis have come up with several interpretations.  Were they excessively ambitious? Discussion of “staying in one’s lane.” “Nadab” means “giving.”

“Like most of Leviticus, the sidrah presents itself as relating what took place in the Sainai wilderness, in the Israelite camp. ..the sidrah opens on the eighth and final day of the ceremony…The joyous occasion is suddenly disrupted by tragedy, Aaron’s two oldest sons commit a ceremonial offence; and again a miraculous flame appears, this time to take the lives of the offenders…The terrible fate of Nadab and Abihu underscored the priests need to perform the rituals strictly according to rule. It stressed priestly accountability for the faithful discharge of their duties.”

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Generational Shabbat – a Vassar Temple Sisterhood Tradition


By Jonah Ritter

Vassar Temple Sisterhood has many wonderful traditions, and this is certainly one of them. Some years ago Sisterhood took over a temple practice – to organize and conduct a Friday night service called a “Generational Shabbat.” During this lay-led service, which Sisterhood members conduct, the Temple honors people who have been members of Vassar Temple for 40 or more years.

Part of the tradition includes having the Men’s Club host the Oneg. Special thanks to our organizers including but not limited to Sisterhood President Judy Rosenfeld, Past President Melissa Erlebacher, Bonnie Scheer, and the many others involved.

Each year the bulk of the names & faces are the same. We are proud to have some join the ranks, and deeply saddened when we lose anyone. And of course, not everyone can make it to the service.

Here is a picture of the “class” of 2017 (5777). To Vassar Temple, these people need no introduction. I love the way Lila Matlin and Sue Barbash are holding hands in the front row! Classy and strong Muriel Lampel is just behind them. Look at Gloria up top, with her big smile; her vigor and thirst for adventure is really special. See Linda Cantor on the left in front of Richard. I am in awe of Linda’s sensitivities. And of course, there is Elaine L in the front row who faces the camera and life head on with great spirit. Each and everyone is special in their own way!

The lifelong bonds that can be made at a temple make one’s life richer – increasing the joy during happy moments, simchas, and comforting one during life’s inevitable trials and tribulations.

We know there are many people in the community who were members of Vassar Temple years ago, but are now unaffiliated with any temple. Please know that it is nerver to late to come back and be with old friends, as we all make new ones.