Parashat Shemini
April 13, 2018
28 Nisan 5778

Candle lighting: 6:58 p.m.

Dear Friends:

In our Torah portion this week, Parashat Shemini, we read about a seven day inauguration ceremony of the Mishkan and the high priests. Amidst what was supposed to be a celebration, tragedy strikes. Two of Aaron's sons are incinerated by a divine fire. There are lots of explanations as to why they were killed, which will be discussed during my sermon tomorrow, but there is one particular reason often cited that I find extremely problematic.

When Aaron's sons bring their sacrifice, they use an "Eish Zarah," a foreign or alien fire. Some commentators suggest that doing so was irresponsible, it was a perversion of the traditional ritual, which is why they were then struck down with fire. As the leaders of the Jewish community, they had a responsibility to offer the sacrifice in the traditional manner, keeping and preserving the tradition in tact.

As a Rabbi, I often feel this tension. As leaders, we have a responsibility to take tradition and ritual seriously. They are sacred and holy. But at the same time I think we also need try new things, things that may seem foreign and unusual, things that may even make us feel a bit uncomfortable. There are so many parts of my life and my Jewish practice that at some point seemed foreign and strange, but now I couldn't imagine doing without.

We do not know what strange things may ultimately succeed and become regular, and which new foreign tactics might deserve to be incinerated. What I do know is that we have a responsibility to make sure that we keep offering, and that our fire keeps burning bright.

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Josh Dorsch
April 13: Kabbalat Shabbat 6:15 p.m.
Candle Lighting: 6:58 p.m.
April 14: Midrash Shabbat
Havdalah: 8:17 p.m.

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