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April 5, 2014 - 5 Nisan 5774
Parashat Tazria explains the properties and remedies for a person or fabric with tzara’at, this portion details how a per- son is purified from tzara’at. The purification includes ceremonies and offerings carried out by a priest in addition to the afflicted person washing, shaving, and cleaning his/her clothes. Offerings differ depending on the afflicted person’s wealth.
We learn that, when the Israelites enter Canaan, tzara’at can potentially afflict their houses. Depending on the degree of affliction, the houses must be scraped off, or perhaps torn down, while those who enter the house must be purified. Men and women with atypical discharges from their sexual organs are impure; this impurity can spread to someone who touches an afflicted person or who touches items that person has touched. A menstruating woman also is impure, as is anything or anyone that she touches. Disregarding these laws puts the Tabernacle at risk of defilement, and, as a result, puts an afflicted person at risk of death.
Parashat Aharei Mot / Shabbat Hagadol
April 12, 2014–12 Nisan 5774
After the deaths of Nadav and Avihu, Aaron is disallowed from entering the Holy of Holies at will. God instructs Mo- ses to guide his brother and remaining nephews in a ritual for the Day of Atonement. Included in the ritual are two goats;; one (the scapegoat) of which is designated for “Azazel” which is to carry the burdens of the peoples’ sins. Yom Kippur is defined as a day of self-denial to make expiation for all Israelite sins.
General guidelines for sacrificing are detailed, including the need to present slaughtered animals to the Tabernacle and to avoid consuming blood.
In an effort to avoid Egyptian or Canaanite laws, the people are instructed to steer clear from improper sexual relations, including incest and bestiality, lest the Promised Land become defiled.
The Lord spoke to Moses after the death of the two sons of Aaron who died when they drew too close to the presence of the Lord. The Lord said to Moses: Tell your brother Aaron that he is not to come at will into the Shrine behind the curtain, in front of the cover that is upon the ark, lest he die; for I appear in the cloud over the cover. (Leviticus 16:1-2)
Parashat Kedoshim – Mevarekhim Hahodesh
April 26, 2014–26 Nisan 5774
One of the Torah’s seminal chapters, Leviticus 19 exhorts the Israelites to be holy because God is holy. Holiness is achieved, in part, by honoring our parents, protecting our children, rejecting idolatry, giving to the poor, offering sacri- fices sincerely, and dealing with strangers and neighbors with decency and fairness.
The second part of the parasha, Leviticus 20, returns to some of the same themes, focusing heavily on sexual ethics found in Leviticus 18 and avoiding idolatry.