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This year (5780) was the first time I had a full Yom Kippur fast since 2012, since previously I was either pregnant or nursing. But as important as the role of self-denial is during the holiday, the Talmud suggests that self-care supersedes it.
When I met Duncan, he had never kept kosher in his life. On our second date, when it seemed like there might be more dates in our future, he asked me about what it meant for me, a conservative rabbinical student, to be dating him, a life-long bacon cheeseburger-eating reform Jew (his words, not mine).
How do you find spiritual fulfillment? Maybe it's through traditional prayer, or maybe it's through a walk in the woods or a jam session with friends. This week's Torah portion suggests it might be confusing to offer alternative paths to spiritual connection, but as a rabbi I take the opposite approach.
As we read Parshat Vayikra, especially at a time when our community simply is not physically able to come together in person to apologize, to forgive, and to move on, we are reminded that each of us holds the key to our own journey to forgiveness. And perhaps an added benefit of this period of isolation is merely the time to look inward and finally use that key. Shabbat shalom.
As we read Parshat Vayakhel and Pekudei, we are nudged to ask ourselves, instead of the Tabernacle, what is the reminder of our covenant with God that we carry each day? Our society has evolved that we don’t necessarily need a separate physical reminder in our community to be good; the reminder is how we act toward each other.
Two narratives - a reminder to rest on Shabbat and the frantic rashness of the Golden Calf - seem vastly different, yet are linked through this week's Torah portion. Perhaps the lesson is that had the Israelites actually taken the opportunity to rest while Moses was on the mountain, they wouldn't have engaged in idolatry.