This week’s Torah portion is a double portion and continuing in the format used for other double portions the Dvar for this week will follow the split 7 inch record format where each chapter gets its own track. So here you have it folks Circle Pit The Bimah Split EP Vol. 3.
Parsha Acharei Mot (Leviticus 16:1 – 18:30)
1. You Say Yom KipPER, I Say Yom KipPOOR
I really like the sixteenth chapter of Leviticus and in a way I wish Acharei Mot was . . .you know “my portion” (I was born in November no such luck). In this chapter lots are cast to decide which animals are sacrificed and which animals are let loose into the wild for atonement. Oh and before I forget, this is the Yom Kippur part of the Torah. In a previous Dvar I mention how I became a zealous atheist at the age of thirteen which lasted until the ripe old age of twenty-two. I only bring this up again because Yom Kippur was the first mitzvah I kept after returning to the rank and file of our tribe and despite my views on animal sacrifice Acharei Mot remains very important to me.
2. Blood Free Youth.
In my notes for this section of Acharei Mot I have scribbled “quote chapter seventeen verse fourteen and be done with it.” It’s a great verse look it up, read it, and meditate on it, but this part is all about keeping Kosher, a blood free palate and more importantly promotes compassion. How can we as Jews and as a “Priestly People” promote the dignity and respect so inherent within our faith when we insist on picking and choosing what needs Tikkun Olem. Remember its repair the world, not repair the markets or an inflated sense of self worth. What we put inside of ourselves, whether its something physical like food or an ideological concept, will in turn emanate from us through our thoughts and actions.
3. No Harm No Foul.
Controversy! It goes without saying incest is not alright but is consensual male homosexuality really a sin, and what about female homosexuality? Look. . . .some real talk. . . I think the Torah’s wording in regards to homosexuality is presented in a way which allows for same sex relationships. Relationships of all types are complicated and narrowing everything down to a few lines here and there is never going to encapsulate every aspect of every relationship. I wish I had more to offer on this subject and on one hand I’m proud that I am not homophobic but on the other hand as a hetero its something I really don’t think about that often. Please feel free to discuss in the comments or send me a private message.
1. Representative Eric be a CANtor not a CAN’Tor.
In this country, this country that I live in it is an election year. This means in November I will vote for candidates who feel the same way I do about issues important to me and against candidates that stand for issues important to people whose views I disagree with. Why is this important? Glad you asked Kedoshim is two chapters the first of which (being first makes it more important at least in my opinion) Hashem provides commandments to protect the earth, those less fortunate, and indirectly opposes classism. Sure, there is some stuff in there about getting tattoos, beard shaving, and ghost whispering but the fact remains the same Hashem wants us to occupy the world with justice, compassion, and equality.
2. Manifest Zion.
No two people are alike and Hashem knows this because that’s how He created us. Kedoshim concludes with some warnings and corporeal punishment commandments making this now complete portion appealing to both sides of the aisle. As an American living in the southwest it’s a little hard to think that the Navajo and Pueblo nations who first inhabited New Mexico were wicked and that’s why this area is now part of the United States of America (fun fact: not only is Albuquerque the city I call home but our first two mayors were Jewish, in fact Jews and New Mexico have a long and fruitful relationship going back to the mid 1800s). While I might have problems reconciling this concept others seem to truly understand it and are glad to be part of a nation who has helped de-wickedify (new word?) tyrannical regimes hoarding prosperity from everyone except themselves.
Jeremiah@punktorah.org Twitter: @circlepitbimah