Friday, May 11, 2018

Parashat Behar-Bechukotai

Shabbat Shalom! Together we count the Omer.

Baruch atah, Adonai Eloheinu, Melech Ha'Olam, asher kid'shanu b'mitzvotav v'tzivanu al sefirat ha'omer.

Blessed are You, Adonai our God, Ruler of the Universe, who has sanctified us with commandments and commanded us in the counting of the Omer.

Hayom sh'nayim v'arba'im yom, sheheim shisha shavuot la'Omer.

Today is the 42nd day of the Omer. The mystical realm of this day is Malchut sheb'yesod, or the Majesty of Commitment. The Biblical woman associated with this day of the Omer is Tamar, the daughter-in-law of Judah. She stands up for herself against her father-in-law when he wrongfully accuses her of something. As a result, she merits to be the mother of Peretz, the eventual ancestor to King David (as we will see soon in the lineage at the end of the Book of Ruth, which we read on Shavuot). A simple poem by Kohenet Annie Matan for today's Omer count says, "Malchut sheb'yesod - Majesty of Commitment - Where the seed comes home (And creates the whole world)."

This week's Torah portion is Parashat Behar-Bechukotai, a double portion. The two halves have some differences, but they are both agriculturally focused. Parashat Behar focuses on the rules of sustainable farming and giving your land and workers some rests, whereas Parashat Bechukotai lets the Israelites know that the success of their farming and families will be dependent on them following all the rules. By taking good care of your families, your land and farms, and perhaps today we would also say your office or classroom environments, by being mindful of the rules and acting in ways that look out for others as well as yourself, you can find success in this world. It takes commitment to create this success, though. Commitment to the people you love to cultivate healthy relationships and successful families. Commitment to your gardens and farms to cultivate sustainable agriculture. Commitment to your passions and work ethic to cultivate good grades at school and a strong modern career. Commitment to Judaism to cultivate strong connections to God and community. Through this commitment, and perhaps with the help of Divine reward, we plant the seeds that create the world.

May we commit ourselves to these acts of cultivation and create for ourselves a reputation for steadfast honesty and integrity, like Tamar who acted with righteousness and stood her ground when she was in the right, and may we be reward with success, honor, and legacy as she was. Amen and Shabbat Shalom.

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