The CNS Board, Staff, and Clergy recently sent out a letter showing our commitment to support the movements of justice for Black, Indigenous, and People-of-Color (BIPOC). Click here to read the statement
The time period of one month is significant for Jewish reasons such as Sheloshim (the first 30 days after the death of a loved one) and practical reasons such as bill payment. But why sets of 30? The Torah understands that it takes time to adjust to new circumstances, and perhaps a month is enough to encourage that transition.
I want to discuss one sentence in our weekly Torah parshah which is missing a direct object. The verse says simply, “And Korach took.” It neglects to tell us what he took. An attentive reader keeps waiting for the sentence to finish. “What did he take? Tell me, I can’t stand the suspense!” Our ancestors, ever mindful of such slight grammatical problems, scurried to uncover God’s presence and the hidden meaning in this anomaly.
As you may know, the Jewish concept of tzedakah comes from the root for “justice.” In other words, a just society is one in which we take care of one another. We recognize that each person has a purpose to fulfill and, even in a literal sense, something to give back.
At the end of this week’s parasha, Sh’lakh L’kh, God presents the Israelites with a new commandment. It is the mitzvah of tzitzit, of wearing a fringes on the corners of our garments. This passage becomes the third paragraph of the Sh’ma prayer, our central declaration of faith in God. It also is the proof text for why Jews use tallitot or prayer shawls during services.
It’s human nature to doubt ourselves and wonder how different our lives would be had we made different choices. It sounds impossible that we'd ever get to try out both scenarios, but interestingly, our Torah portion this week presents us with such an example.
There’s not a lot of explicit material about race in the Torah. Yet this week’s parsha deals with it, and the timing could not be more apt, even as the lesson being offered is not immediately explicit.