Dear Congregation Kehillah and Friends,
This Thursday night and Friday mark Lag'B'Omer, the 33rd day in the counting of the Omer, a special minor holiday that is widely celebrated (really celebrated) in Israel (picnics, playing, bonfires, the only day between Passover and Shavuot when Jewish weddings are allowed because the period of the Omer is considered to be a time of semi-mourning.)
Parashat Emor contains the 'festival calendar' of the Jewish people. You might be surprised to learn which of our holidays and festivals are mentioned in the Torah, along with the names by which they were originally known:
the weekly Shabbat;
the bringing of the Passover offering on 14 Nisan;
the seven-day Passover starting on 15 Nisan;
the Omer offering from the first barley harvest on the second day of Passover and the commencement, that day, of the 49-day counting of the Omer, culminating in the festival of Shavuot* on the 50th day;
a day of remembrance marked by shofar blasts on 1 Tishrei**;
a solemn fast day on 10 Tishrei***;
Sukkot, during which we are to "dwell in huts for seven days and take the Four Kinds"**** beginning on 15 Tishrei;
and a holiday immediately following (the '8th day' of Sukkot) = Shemini Atzeret.
Instruction is offered as to the purpose and observance of these special days along with commanding the kohanim/priests to replace the 12 loaves of showbread each week that sat on a special table in the sanctuary.
*This is when we celebrate the receiving of Torah and Ten Commandments. While Passover is a celebration of freedom, Shavuot is the celebration of commitment and covenant. The Rabbis linked the two to teach that freedom without commitment/obligation is bereft of meaning, They are two sides of the same coin.
** Rosh Hashanah
****Lulav (containing the willow, palm and myrtle branches) and Etrog (the citron)
A kavannah before candlelighting for Shabbat Emor
As those serving in the Temple renewed and refreshed the loaves each week, may my candle lighting this week help me to learn more about and practice my Judaism in ways that renew and refresh my heart and soul, contributing to the strength and well-being of our people, the community and the world.
Rabbi Bonnie Sharfman