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D'Var Torah

April 1, 2016

All of us confront daily stresses in our lives. They range from the mundane (every traffic light on the way to work was red causing me to be late!) to the serious (a loved one has suffered a tragic loss), but each one causes a range of concerns and emotions that may elevate your heart rate. And then, there is the world around us that we see on our continuous news cycle: a bombings in Belgium and Pakistan; mass shootings in schools and concert halls; terrorist stabbings of innocent community members; hateful rhetoric targeting minorities, religious, ethnic, and otherwise identifiable groups. Stress, way too much stress.

This week's parashah, Sh'mini, continues our reading in the Book of Leviticus. It is a book full of rituals and rules, many of which appear archaic to our modern practices, but which are described in great detail. In Sh'mini we read of customs in the mishkan (and the unfortunate deaths of Aaron's two sons), as well as some of the laws of kashrut. Last week we read about sacrifices; before that it was slavery. How do we in 2016 relate to each of these commandments?

I don't know that we can relate to each commandment if we attempt to do so only literally. But, as we read the Torah as a whole, and think about the rhythms of life reflected in the rituals described, we can find comfort in our tradition that allows us to keep moving forward despite the stress and unpleasantness we may encounter. That is where we can find the foundation for our resilience. I only hope that we may return to the more mundane rituals of life soon.

May we all have a peaceful Shabbat.

Lee I. Sherman