Rabbi Sherman’s Weekly Torah Commentary – April 30-May 1, 2021 (19 Iyyar 5781)

April 30 – May 1, 2021                                                                 Parashat Emor
19 Iyyar 5781

We learn in this week’s Torah portion that the ancient priests could not have physical disabilities. This is a theme of Leviticus: everything that was offered on the ancient altar had to be perfect and unblemished. By extension, everyone who made the offerings had to be unblemished as well.

The great medieval philosopher Maimonides explained that everything done for the sake of the Divine had to be the best. He taught that a synagogue should be finer than one’s home, that food offered to the hungry should be the highest quality available, and that clothing provided to the poor should be the finest garments. The rule against priests having blemishes reminds us that the ancient Israelite religion believed in striving for perfection. Yet today we know that no human is perfect, and that disabilities do not diminish one’s wholeness. Today we recognize that to be human is to be imperfect, and to be imperfect is to be holy.

Lag BaOmer – Friday, April 30
We are in the period of the Omer, the 49 days between Pesach and Shavuot. An omer is a sheaf of barley, and originally this was the season of the barley harvest. The Talmud explains that during this season, a plague killed thousands of Rabbi Akiva’s students because they were not respectful to one another. Thus, the Omer is a time of semi-mourning, when weddings, other celebrations, and haircuts are not permitted. It was said that the plague lifted on Lag BaOmer, the 33rd day of the Omer. So on this day, we take a break from mourning. Weddings, celebrations and haircuts are permitted. Celebrating with bonfires and concerts is common.

Torah Talk – Shabbat afternoon at 1:30 PM in the Synagogue (limited seating; masks required)

Musical Birthday Service – Friday, May 7 at 6:30 PM on Channel 1960 or in the Synagogue
Cantor Arie Shikler brings his music to help us celebrate Shabbat and Residents with May birthdays
Limited seating in the Synagogue; masks required

Please join in this week’s Shabbat celebrations on Channel 1960 or in the Synagogue
Friday at 4:15 PM: Kabbalat Shabbat & Ma’ariv (Evening Service); Blessings in Dining Room at 5:15
Saturday at 10:00 AM: Shabbat Shacharit (Morning Service); Blessings in Dining Room at 12:15

Candle lighting time for the city of Mission Viejo: Friday evening at 7:15 PM
Shabbat ends Saturday evening at 8:14 PM

Shabbat Shalom!                                                                  Rabbi Sherman