Logo light

 

TEMPLE EMANU-EL

A Reform Jewish Community for all of Tucson
225 North Country Club • Tucson, AZ 85716
(520) 327-4501 • Fax: (520) 327-4504
 
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  

Yom Chamishi, 12 Tammuz 5774

    Facebook  Twitter  Youtube

A Comedy of Errors to Relieve a Tragic Week

July 2, 2014

This has been a tragic week for Jews during which we mourned the loss of three Israeli teens, Eyal, Gilad, and Naftali, murdered by terrorists soon after they were kidnapped almost three weeks ago. Their bodies were discovered just last Sunday, and our hearts go out to their families. This has also been a week when violence flared in West Bank and in East Jerusalem, and when an Arab teen was apparently murdered in a reprisal killing. We pray that tempers cool, and that the killers are brought to justice. May this truly be the last time we have to mourn such an outrage.

In fact, we can use a break from this tragic situation. Fortunately, the Torah provides it.

Read more: Rabbi Samuel M. Cohon's Weekly Torah Talk on Balak 5774

Add a Little Light

June 5, 2014

This week we read the Torah portion of Beha'alotecha in the Book of Numbers. It begins with a description of the menorah, the lamp that burned in the Tabernacle in the Wilderness and later in the Temple in Jerusalem, our people's central worship places for God. That golden menorah was a way to keep track of the days of the week—a new light was lit each day from Sunday through Friday until, finally, all seven branches shone on the holiest of days, Shabbat.

Read more: Rabbi Samuel M. Cohon's Weekly Torah Talk on Beha'alotecha 5774

The Three-Fold Blessing of Presence

May 28, 2014

This week we read the second Torah portion in the book of Numbers, Naso, which includes a variety of instructions ranging from priestly organization to the ordeal of jealousy to the voluntary but binding vows of the Nazirite. It is a kind of catch-all sort of parashah, but it is also a portion that is raised to the status of greatness by one particular passage.

Just before the princes of the people bring offerings to mark the beginning of formal worship in the Tabernacle in the Wilderness, God instructs Moses to tell Aaron and his sons, the Kohanim, to bless the people with a famous formula. We know it as the Birkat Kohanim, the Priestly Blessing. This three-part sequence has become the most famous benediction of all:

Read more: Rabbi Samuel M. Cohon's Weekly Torah Talk on Naso 5774

Every Single Person Counts

May 21, 2014

This week we read the portion of Bamidbar, first in the book of Numbers, which is given its name by the census that occupies a good part of the beginning of the Torah portion. Superficially it's just a listing of names and numbers and not a very interesting text for study or inspiration. But it also teaches us a primary lesson: every human being counts in God's eyes—and should similarly count in our eyes, as well.

There is an unusual phrase in the beginning of the portion. The survey is to be taken of the entire nation, and b'mispar sheimot, "by the numbering of names." In other words, even though by definition a census is an accounting, a totaling of sums, each individual is to be accounted for not by number but by name. Each person has a unique identity, a human face. Each is an image of God.

Read more: Rabbi Samuel M. Cohon's Weekly Torah Talk on Bamidbar 5774

Renewing Our Resources

May 7, 2014

This week we read the portion of Behar, from the book of Leviticus, which establishes the rules for the sabbatical and jubilee years, the most important form of environmental legislation in the ancient world. Concern for the environment in Judaism has always been an important part of our tradition. The very first text on caring for the natural world goes back to Genesis, where we are commanded to be stewards of God's creation.

But the most important Jewish legislation in the Torah is found in Leviticus, in a section we read this week in Parashat Behar: you shall have a Sabbatical every seventh year, and the land shall rest. We are instructed to do no active planting or cultivation, to allow the fields to lie fallow, to give the earth a chance to rest. This is considered today to be good, practical agricultural policy. It allows time for nature to restore the nutrients that grains leach from the soil, it allows the fallen fruit in the orchards to nourish the loam, and it is a fundamental part of crop rotation in all areas practicing modern farming techniques.

Read more: Rabbi Samuel M. Cohon's Weekly Torah Talk on Behar 5774

Page 1 of 19