Shabbat Parashat Emor Celebrations in the Midst of Life…

Dear Friends,

Our weekly Torah portion, Emor, reminds us that in the midst of life….we celebrate!  Every week, at the end of the week…we celebrate Shabbat!  What is Shabbat if not our weekly celebration of life at its best?!  We pause.  We reflect on what we have accomplished.  We appreciate the vastness of the creation.  And we have time to realize that, in the midst of the vastness of creation, despite the fact that we occupy only a tiny space within such a vast expanse of reality, each one of us has had the opportunity to make a small but significant contribution to our world and to our future.  That is the essence of Shabbat.  A celebration of life at its best.

And Shabbat is only the first in a long list of sacred celebrations mentioned in our Torah portion.

Our Parsha reminds us of all of our Biblical holidays – of all the occasions on which we pause in the midst of life to celebrate special moments.  From Passover, through the counting of the Omer, and on to Shavuot,  Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur and Sukkot.  Our Parsha is full of celebrations!

But, our Jewish calendar is not complete without our post-Biblical celebrations.

This week, on Monday night and Tuesday, we celebrate Lag B’Omer – the 33rd day of the counting of the Omer.  The Talmud tells us that in ancient times, one year, during the days between Passover and Shavuot, even as they counted the Omer day by day, the students of Rabbi Akiva did not treat one another respectfully. As a result – Rabbi Akiva’s students suffered.  But, on the 33rd day of the counting of the Omer – they made peace with one another and their suffering ended.  What had been a troubling time of turmoil turned into a happy time.  And since that time, every year, we, too, celebrate on Lag B’Omer!  The anxiety often associated with the counting of the Omer is lifted on Lag B’Omer.  Jewish weddings often take place on Lag B’Omer.  Picnics and outdoor sporting events take place on Lag B’Omer.  A fun time is had by all….In the midst of life, with all of its up and downs, we celebrate!

One could say that celebrating in the midst of life is a theme in Jewish life – a theme that is highlighted in our Parsha and is enhanced by the celebration of Shabbat at the end of each and every week of the year!

In the spirit of the very Jewish theme of celebrating in the midst of life, this coming weekend, we will also celebrate Mother’s Day!  I take this opportunity to wish all our mother’s the very best Mother’s Day possible even as we stay physically distant from one another. Despite this year’s circumstances, I am confident that we will find fun ways to celebrate all of our celebrations in the midst of life.

May our celebrations in the midst of life lift our spirits and give us added moments of joy, of hope and of comfort!

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Gilah Dror