One of my dear friends and colleagues, Rabbi Phyllis Sommer, has for several years now challenged us to blog Exodus. She has come up with daily themes.
Every day is Labor Day. Jewish tradition expounds the importance of work and those who do it. Even God worked for six days and then rested on Shabbat. The Jewish vision of the messianic era is not an age of idleness, but rather one in which swords become plowshares.
We took advantage of our empty nest status to take a week-long trip to Spain this month, the first time in almost 20 years that we could travel at a time when schools weren’t on vacation.
This week’s Torah portion, B’haalot’cha, begins with the instructions for the lifting up of “the lamps,” haneirot, to illuminate the Tabernacle. The initial letter of the word, “lamp,” neir, is nun.
In Parashat Emor, the Torah reports that a man born of mixed Israelite-Egyptian descent “blasphemed the Name [of God],” was placed on trial, and was stoned to death. A law was then enacted that anyone, Jewish or gentile, who blasphemes the name of God shall be put to death. Over time, in communities throughout the world, laws against blasphemy were put in place to address curses leveled at God as well as perceived slights against some religions.