The Weekly Share – 7 Nissan

The Weekly Share – 7 Nissan

Food For the Soul

The Book of Leviticus

The third book of the Torah, known in Hebrew as Vayikra (after the first word of the text, which means “and He called”), is also called Torat Kohanim, the Teaching of Priests, because so many of its laws revolve around the service and lifestyle of the Levite priests, descendants of Aaron. This is the source of its English (Greek) name, Leviticus. Though sometimes viewed as a collection of arcane laws of animal sacrifices and ritual purity, Leviticus is very much valued in Judaism. In fact, traditionally, the first Torah verses that children learn are from Leviticus. 

Coming on the heels of the Book of Exodus, where we read how the people of Israel built the Tabernacle, a home for G-d in the desert, Leviticus opens with the laws of the sacrifices that would be offered there. We also read of the special seven-day inauguration of the Mishkan during which Moses served as high priest, bringing special sacrifices and anointing Aaron and his sons, who would then take on the mantle of priesthood.

Much of Leviticus focuses on how G-d’s special people must live a holy lifestyle. For example, as they prepare to enter the Promised Land, G-d tells the people that they must rise above their neighbors by not engaging in forbidden relationships, serving idols or mimicking other practices of the surrounding nations. In the last section, G-d tells the people that if they follow His laws, they will live in peace and security. If, however, they choose to ignore His Torah, they will endure persecution, starvation and fear. But even then, G-d will remember His covenant and redeem His people.

Edited from an article by Rabbi Menachem Posner

Pesach is just around the corner!

This year, Pesach (Passover) is on March 27 through April 4. Have you begun your preparations? For tips on preparing and celebrating during the pandemic, visit Chabad.org


Shabbat Shalom

Why we feed the charity box before Shabbat

Just before women and girls light candles on Friday afternoon to usher in the Shabbat, it is customary to give charity (Tzedoko). Since no charity can be given on Shabbat day (when money is not handled), an extra sum is given beforehand. 

The Lubavitcher Rebbe wrote: “The special relevance of Tzedoko to the lighting of candles before Shabbos and Yom Tov is in the fact that, as our Sages relate, lighting the candles is an act of rectification of а wrongdoing committed by the first woman and mother of all mankind, namely Chava (Eve) who caused “the candle of G-d which is the soul of man” — of Adam — to be extinguished through the sin of eating the forbidden fruit. By lighting the candles, the Jewish mother and daughter rectifies the act of putting out the said “candle.” It is therefore particularly relevant to associate candle lighting with Tzedoko, for Tzedoko too is an act of lifesaving, as mentioned above.”


Mind Over Matter

Maintaining our connection

When the world is smiling at us, when we are feeling “big” and productive, it can be easier to feel connected to G-d. But what about during the drudgery or pettiness of life, when we are feeling unfulfilled and uninspired?

Maintaining our connection—finding our “offering” —in times of dullness and restlessness remains our greatest challenge.

And perhaps that’s when we most need to remember: Vayikra, G-d is calling to us, even in these moments of smallness and loneliness, inviting us to bring our offering and to come close.

From an article by Chana Weisberg, Chabad.org


Moshiach Thoughts

A world in the process of “becoming”

Like a matching game, each act of beauty uncovers another face of the infinite. Each generation completes its part of the puzzle.

Until the table is set and prepared. Until all that remains is for the curtains to be raised, the clouds to dissipate, the sun to shine down on all our bruised and bloodied hands have planted, and let it blossom and bear fruit. 

That is where we are now. We know a world in the process of becoming. Soon will be a world where each thing has arrived.

Rabbi Tzvi Freeman


Have I Got A Story

Schmaltz

No one will make schmaltz for me anymore.

When I was a kid, one of the highlights of the eighth day of Passover was smearing schmaltz and gribbenes on matzah. Crispy pieces of deep-fried chicken skin swimming in rendered fat and sprinkled with salt—it was instant gastronomic delight.

I don’t like to kvetch, but even on Passover, when many people prefer fat rendered at home to factory-processed oil, my dear wife refuses to make schmaltz. She says it’s not healthy. You would think my mother might be more of a stickler for tradition, but she gave it up, too. As for my bubbe, oy, better you shouldn’t even ask.

I tried to explain to them that eating traditional foods strengthens and builds up the walls of your arteries, but they’re not interested in listening to reason. They’re prejudiced against animal fat. They trim their beef, skin their chickens and skim the soup. It’s still food, of course, but it’s not the same.

It wasn’t always this way. Until relatively recently, fat was considered a delicacy. People would scrape the drippings out of the pan, and fight over who would be served the helzel (neck) in the chicken soup. Cooking with schmaltz was a way of life.

However, there were some fats that Jews would never eat. In the book of Leviticus we read, “All cheilev belongs to the L-rd.”1 In a kosher animal there are certain fatty deposits, referred to as cheilev, that we may not eat. During  Temple times, these fats were burned on the altar in the Beit Hamikdash.

The cheilev was considered the most delicious part of the animal, and rather than indulge our own desires, we offered it to the Creator.

The Rebbe suggests that the mitzvah of surrendering the cheilev to G-d is a lesson in how to live. Putting on weight is generally a sign that one has been indulging too much in the pleasures of this earth—eating fatty foods makes you fat. When we say, “All cheilev belongs to the L-rd,” we’re declaring that true pleasure is spiritual pleasure. Studying Torah, praying, and performing mitzvahs—that’s where the real geshmak is. The more corporeal indulgences can take a back seat.

Maybe my wife is right after all. Maybe it’s time for me to stop pining for the schmaltz and gribbenes of my youth, and start pursuing a more refined form of gratification. Maybe it’s time for me to stop asking what the world can do for me, and start asking what I can do for the world. With a slimmed-down personality and a more svelte perspective on life, maybe I could bring some pleasure to my G-d, my family and my community.

Rabbi Elisha Greenbaum

How to make Schmaltz

We get it, Rabbi Greenbaum. Many of us need to focus less on the physical pleasures of the table and more on feeding our souls. Still, for those who can afford to indulge in a “little” Schmaltz, the staff at Chabad.org offer a recipe! Go to the website and search “What is Schmaltz”.

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