Shabbat Parashat Shemini Shabbat Mevarekhim HaChodesh Limits and Life

Dear Friends,

Passover has come and gone.  We are back to eating chametz!   If we observed Passover traditionally, for the whole week of Passover, we limited our food to Kosher for Passover foods.  And this limitation that we set on ourselves had meaning for us.

We limited ourselves to remember that we too were once slaves.  We too were once living at the mercy of our human masters.  Then, suddenly, we were freed.  But, that freedom came at a price.  We had to rush to get out of Egypt.  We had to drop everything and leave without time to prepare. But, we did it.  We looked forward to a better future and we moved forward, as God commanded us.  And now we are free.  That is the story of Passover in a nutshell.

Now that Passover is over, we are back to “normal.”  We can eat chametz once again!  But this week’s Torah portion of Shemini reminds us that back to “normal” for traditional Jewish observance means back to eating Kosher food.  This too is a limit that Jews have set upon themselves for generations.  This too must be for a reason….And this too is a journey each one of us can enjoy….

Why limit ourselves in what we eat?

Perhaps we might understand it differently this year because of the Coronavirus situation. Nowadays, as a society, we are voluntarily limiting ourselves in more ways than one in order to save lives.  We are staying at home, unless we are involved in essential services. We are covering our noses and mouths with masks when we are outside.  And, for the most part, we understand that the limitations we are imposing on ourselves, uncomfortable as they may be, are meant to remind us of the fragility of life and of the value of life.

So, too, with keeping Kosher year round.  We limit ourselves in what we eat so that on the average, three times a day, we remind ourselves that there is holiness in life and value in life.  We do not eat without thinking about life, without awareness of life’s preciousness. And, we say a blessing each time before and after we eat, to remind ourselves that we are not the ultimate masters of our world.  In other words, we keep Kosher so that the gift of life will not become something that we begin to take for granted.  We limit ourselves in order for us to enhance our appreciation of the gift of life!

I would be interested in your thoughts and comments on this take on the value of keeping Kosher year round.  And if you have not kept Kosher until now and would like to take a step in that direction, please let me know if I can be of assistance to you in this new spiritual journey.

This Shabbat we will also recite the prayer for the upcoming new Jewish month of Iyyar.  Rosh Chodesh Iyyar will begin next Thursday night, Friday and Shabbat.  May it be a month of health, of joy, a month of healing and a month of fulfillment!

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Gilah Dror