Monthly Services

In April our Shabbat Service will be held at the UUCOB at
831 Herbert Perry Rd, Kitty Hawk, NC 27949.

831 Herbert Perry Rd


Please join us!

Upcoming Service:
Date:
Saturday, April 21, 2018
Time: 10:00 AM


Parshot Tazria and M’tzorah
Leviticus Chapters 12-15

            This week’s Torah reading covers two parshot, Tazria and M’tzorah, Leviticus chapters 12-15.  They deal with the laws of purification from both a hygienic and a ritual perspective.  The specific topics are leprosy, childbirth and bodily secretions, with leprosy being the predominant item.  According to bimbam.com, the skin disease was not really leprosy, but was some kind scale on the skin that was unique to ancient times.  And since the only dermatologists were the Priests, the general cure was isolation from the camp.  The discussion of this disease continues on from Tazria to M’tzorah.  Here we learn that the scale could show up on clothing or the wall of one’s house, sort of like mold.  Again the Priests were called in, and the best way to get rid of the scale or mold was by burning your clothes or demolishing your house.  There is also the notion that if you were a gossiper, the mold on your walls could move to your clothing and then to your skin, implying that the best cure for spreading evil gossip is isolation outside the camp to afford you the time to think about how bad spreading false gossip can be.  We all know how powerful words can be, especially false ones.  Thank goodness the Children of Israel did not know how to use Twitter!  Under the section regarding childbirth, circumcision on the eighth day is prescribed.  In case you are interested, dietary laws were discussed in detail in Chapter 11, which was included in last week’s parsha.
        The reason that we are reading two parshot this year is because it is not a lunar leap year; hence there are 4 less parshot to read since a Hebrew leap year contains a leap month.  Like last month’s parsha in Leviticus, the reason for such detail being incorporated in the written law of the Torah is because the Children of Israel were chosen by God, and these laws are one of the ways that God could distinguish them from the other tribes in the region.  Hence the detail was important to Moses, to Aaron and the other priests, and, most likely, to the other tribal leaders.  I suspect that the average Israelite was not concerned with these laws unless a personal situation dictated it.
        The haftorah for Tazria comes from 2nd Kings, and tells the story of Naaman, captain of the Syrian army, who has contracted leprosy.  Elisha the prophet, who succeeded Elijah, is told by God how to cure Naaman.  Though skeptical, Naaman follows Elisha’s command, and after immersing himself in the River Jordan seven times, he is cured.  At once he proclaims the majesty of the God of Israel, and in essence, becomes a convert.  The only other place in the Old Testament where I recall someone having a skin disease was in the middle of the Book of Numbers, where Moses’s sister Miriam speaks evil of Moses, and apparently contracts leprosy.    She is banished from the camp for 7 days and after some sort of apology, her skin condition heals and she is allowed to return.  So perhaps leprosy is the result of evil gossip.

 

       I’d like to spend a little time tonight discussing the significant Holidays in the month of April plus and minus a week, which also runs from just before the middle of Nisan to just before the middle of Iyar.  There are 6 significant holidays, 5 Jewish and one Christian.  Two are modern and 4 are ancient.  This time of year has a similar group of Holidays as does September and October.
    
    The first, of course, is Passover, which always begins on the 15th day of Nisan.  It celebrates the liberation and exodus of the Israelites from Egypt.  At our 2nd Night Community Seder, we had 41 people attend the celebration at Mako Mike’s.

    
    On the 2nd day of Passover, we begin counting the Omer.  Jews were expected to bring an omer, or measure, of grain to the synagogue for 7 weeks and a day, or 50 days.  The 50th day is Shavuot, which originally celebrated the first wheat harvest.  Short prayers are recited to recall each day during the counting of the Omer.  Today is the 23rd day in the counting of the Omer.

    
    This year, Easter once again coincides with Passover.   Easter used to coincide with Passover until around 400 AD when the Romans were able to disassociate it with Passover.  Easter now coincides with the Spring Equinox.  Since Passover and most other Jewish holidays follow the lunar calendar, their solar dates move since the lunar calendar incorporates 7 leap months in a 19-year cycle.  The leap month is always designated as Adar II.

    
    The 3rd holiday is Rosh Chodesh, which celebrates any new month, and is characterized by a new moon.  In this case, the Rosh Chodesh for Iyar occurred last Saturday, April 14th.  Again, there are ritual blessings for the new month.

    
    The next 2 holidays are modern.  The 24-hour period from Wednesday, April 11th through Thursday, April 12th recalled Yom Hashoah, or Holocaust Memorial Day.  This event commemorates the beginning of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising during World War II.  Our 11th annual service last Friday in conjunction with the UUCOB was a record affair with close to 50 people in attendance.  I attribute this year’s higher attendance to the presence of so many students from the Currituck and Dare County schools who submitted Holocaust-themed essays.  We received 12 from the Currituck high schools, 6 from the Currituck middle schools and 4 from the Dare County high schools.  Let’s hope this turnout will be repeated next year.

    
    Then we have Yom Ha’atzmaut, or Israel Independence Day.  It is always celebrated on the 5th day of Iyar, which this year falls on Wednesday, April 18th.  In 1948, Israel became a free nation on May 14th.  I would like to celebrate Yom Ha’atzmaut today by singing Hatikvah as our closing hymn.

    
    The final holiday is Lag B’Omer, celebrated on Thursday, May 3rd.
Lag B’Omer falls on the 18th day of Iyar and is day 33 in the Counting of the Omer.  Note that Lamed counts as 30 and Gimel as 3, so together they equal 33. The day celebrates the death and life of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai who was a Mishnaic sage back in the 2nd century.  Many people light bonfires to recall this event.