Saturday, May 08, 2010

A Leviticus Farewell

היום תשעה ושלשים יום שהם חמשה שבועות וארבעה יומים בעמר
Today is the thirty-ninth day, making five weeks and four days of the omer
נצח שב יסוד

A day of perseverance in a week of foundation

We just finished reading Leviticus for this year. Across the globe, many shul-going, Torah reading Jews breathe a sigh of relief. We're done with all the bloody details of the sacrifices, and all the lists of laws and rituals, many of which are steeped in an ancient culture very removed from our own. The only story we get is of Nadav and Avihu and how they are zapped by God when they offer אש זרה – strange fire – that was not requested--a troubling tale in and of itself. So we're all happy to move on with the Israelites, even if it is Bamidbar -- into the wilderness.

But I gained some insights into Torah study as we traveled through Leviticus this year. I began the book with these two concepts in mind: it's a book about practice and we need to look at the contents through different lenses--both the one of that ancient time and the one of our present era. I finish the book with a better appreciation of how the practice works and a way into deciphering the teachings that lie within the words.

And so while I look forward to the next leg of the Torah journey, I am grateful that I have found a way in to taking in this sacred text that can feel so removed from my life. There's still a lot of struggle ahead--I wouldn't have it any other way. It's the perseverance with the struggle that forms the foundation for learning.

חזק חזק ונתחזק
May we be strong, strong,
and strengthen each other

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