Torah Tidbits

Dilemmas and Discussions  featured-rabbi

Shabbat Parashat Emor

May 8, 2015 – 20 Iyyar 5775

Dear Friends,

“How can the Torah say that?!”

The beauty of our tradition is that we are invited to ask even the most difficult of questions.

For example, we are invited to wonder how Torah can teach us that all human beings are created in the image of God, yet the Torah tells us, in our weekly Torah portion of Emor, that a kohen [priest] who has a physical “blemish” would not be eligible to be the officiant at some of the priestly rituals in the Tabernacle…  How is that possible?  What does this mean?  Why????  All of these are legitimate questions and worthy subjects of discussion as part of our study of Torah!  Perhaps this teaching comes to help us discern some of our own prejudices….

This past week we received an alert from the Masorti Movement in Israel asking us to protest a decision made by the Mayor of Rehovot who cancelled a group bar and bat mitzvah ceremony for special needs students.  For six months, the students and their families had assiduously prepared for this celebration.  They were so excited and grateful to have been offered the education, and the love, and the support needed to make this spiritual opportunity a reality for them.  Then, the Mayor simply cancelled it on the eve of the celebration because the ceremony was to have been held in a Conservative/Masorti synagogue.  By doing this, the Mayor was sending a clear message that the Conservative/Masorti congregation in Rehovot was not “welcome.”   And, that the special needs students’ spiritual celebration was unimportant.   It was truly a sad statement in regard to issues of equal opportunity and of inclusivity in Rehovot.

I would encourage us to respond by decrying the decision of the Mayor of Rehovot.  Details of how you may register your protest can be found on the website of the Masorti Movement. <>

In reflecting on our Torah portion, and on other seemingly conflicting teachings of Torah, we can also explore moral dilemmas closer to home.  We can raise up the dilemmas that these dissonances highlight.  And, we might examine our own responses when we are called upon to make decisions regarding inclusivity in our daily lives and in our communities.  Because, in the end, our Torah study is intended to enrich our lives and to help us to add blessing and holiness to our world.

Shabbat Shalom!

Rabbi Gilah Dror