We don’t always associate August with the season of love. However, there is a little-known Jewish holiday which usually falls early to mid-August. This is the holiday Tu B’Av, translated to the not so inventive name of the 15th of the month of Av (occurring on August 16th this year). Like many other holidays, this one does fall on the full moon. It goes back to Second Temple times where, according to the Talmud, people were matched together for marriage. Other than a small liturgical change on the day, not much was done to celebrate the holiday for 1500 years.
Rabbi Ricky Kamil's blog
Yom Kippur, we forgive our families, we forgive our neighbors, we forgive our friends, we even sometimes forgive G-d. We also ask for forgiveness, from our families, neighbors, friends and even G-d. We do this because of our commandment in Leviticus, “Be holy, for I, your G-d am holy.” Holiness, kadosh, means to separate. We can always be more holy, to sperate more from the mundane, and self-improvement, even divine improvement, makes us more holy. However, while we give forgiveness, and seek forgiveness, are we able to forgive ourselves?
Rapid City, South Dakota was my first student pulpit when I was in rabbinical school. I loved this pulpit. It was a fun congregation, and Rapid City happens to be surrounded by some beautiful areas. The areas were made even better because of the host who always put me up. Stan was a South Dakota state senator and would often be in Pierre, the capital, doing all the things for which he was responsible. Stan had many houses, and when I would stay at one of his houses, I would often be all alone.
After a month of many holidays, from Rosh Hashanah all the way to Simchat Torah, we ask (after taking a breath), “What’s the next Jewish holiday?” We usually get the answer, “Hanukkah in about two months.” However, I would like to argue that there is another Jewish holiday before Hanukkah and that is the holiday of Thanksgiving.
In the best of times, we ask, “where is G-d?” After all, we built this world on our own. In the worst of times, we ask “where is G-d?”
“What’s going through his head?” This is a question I, and many others, have often asked of our patriarch Abraham during the story we will read tomorrow, the Akedah, or the binding of Isaac. How can Abraham be so willing to sacrifice his son? There is not much dialogue in this story, so we don’t get Abraham’s perspective. What we do know, though, is that Abraham argued earlier with G-d about preserving life.
During my first year in rabbinical school, my classmates and I examined our connections to Judaism. I heard many wonderful answers.
Beginning with Passover and ending on Shavuot, we have the Counting of the Omer. An Omer is a unit of grain. In the ancient Near East, the wheat harvest would begin around the time of Passover and be in full swing by Shavuot. Traditionally, Passover is the exodus from Egypt, and Shavuot is the revelation at Mount Sinai. However, both holidays (and Sukkot, as well) are known as the Shalosh Regalim, The Three Pilgrimage Holidays, and are very much involved with agriculture. Counting the Omer was a way to take stock in what was to be planned for the coming year.
In just a couple of weeks (depending on when you’re reading this), we will be celebrating the holiday of Purim. There are many customs from this holiday. We dress up, we come together in joy and silliness, we give presents called mishloach manot, and we express our frustration at our current situation.
Dear Congregation Etz Chaim,
On February 4th, we held a program which showcased six social justice initiatives happening at the Temple. Here is a summary of each of the initiatives and how you can get involved, if you so choose.
Just this past weekend, I was fortunate enough to be at my sister Becky’s wedding in Washington D.C. I left from Etz Chaim on Friday afternoon and had my kippah on. I do wear it often, but not always when I’m travelling; mostly because it falls off. However, I forgot to take it off, and I was on the plane when the flight attendant asked me about it and I explained I am a rabbi. She said, “That’s wonderful.” My wife Rebecca was with me and it was explained we were both rabbis.