Summary of the Passover Torah Readings
On the FIRST DAY OF PASSOVER we read from the book of Exodus (12:21-51) of the bringing of the Passover Offering in Egypt, the Plague of the Firstborn at the stroke of midnight, and how "On this very day, G‑d took the Children of Israel out of Egypt."
The reading for the SECOND DAY OF PASSOVER, Leviticus 22:26-23:44, includes: a list of the moadim — the "appointed times" on the Jewish calendar for festive celebration of our bond with G‑d; the mitzvah to Count the Omer (the 49-day "countdown" to the festival of Shavuot which begins on the 2nd night of Passover); and the obligation to journey to the Holy Temple to "to see and be seen before the face of G‑d" on the three annual pilgrimage festivals — Passover, Shavuot and Sukkot.
Yom Rishon shel Pesach 1st Day of Passover
Exodus 12:37-42, 13:3-10
It’s All About the Question Mark
My elementary school teacher believed the question mark was inspired by the curiosity of the cat. Some suggest the symbol stems from an abbreviation of the Latin quaestiō ("question"). But my favorite theory is that the question mark, looking initially like a lightening flash, was the invention of the 8th century calligrapher and poet Alcuin of York. Yes, even the beloved question mark is questionable, at least in origin.
So what, you may ask?
Metzora - Shabbat Hagadol
Leviticus 14:1 - 15:33; Haftarah Malachi 3:4 - 3:24
Bringing New Meaning to the Status of a Menstruating Woman
Theologian Elizabeth Dodson Gray notes: "Women's bodies may be the hardest place for women to find sacredness" ( Sacred Dimensions of Women's Experience, 1988, p. 197). Our society sends negative messages to women from earliest childhood about the expected perfection of their physiques and the disappointments of any flaws in the female form. Parashat M'tzora, then, with its focus on menstrual impurity (15:19-24), seems to impart the same kind of unfavorable sense. Rejecting our own received biases and patriarchal assumptions about menstruation, however, can help us form a contemporary view of these so-called taboos.
Tazria - Rosh Chodesh Shabbat Hachodesh
Lev. 12:1-13:35; Maftir Num.28:9-15; Maf. Ex. 12:1-20
Building a Home
The first of Nissan and the first of Tishrei mark the beginnings of the Jewish year. The solar aspect of our calendar—representing the fixed laws of nature—begins on Tishrei; whereas the lunar cycle—symbolizing the ups and down of Jewish history—begins on the first of Nissan.
The solar year mirrors the agricultural cycle and begins as the rainy season approaches; whereas the lunar year, reflecting the supernatural aspect of Jewish history, begins with the month the Jewish people were formed into a nation. Even the name of the month, Nissan, related to the word nes or miracle, signifies the miraculous tenacity of the Jewish people.
Sh'mini - Shabbat Parah
Leviticus 9:1 - 11:47; maf: Numbers 19:1-22
Thousands of years before the 19th-century saying, “you are what you eat” came into being, Judaism recognized the essential significance of food in the Jewish and human experience. Originally, without explaining “why” we should eat some, but not all types of different foods, the Torah in this week’s portion, Sh’mini (Leviticus 11), laid down a lengthy list of culinary dos and don’ts, the textual foundation of kashrut, Jewish dietary practice and law. Subsequently, the laws of kashrut were greatly expanded by the Rabbis to include food preparation in general and, especially, on the Sabbath, the full separation of milk and meat products, methods of slaughter, and a whole range of food regulations during Passover.