Emor - Be Kind
This week's Torah portion is Emor from the book of Leviticus. There are two things I want to point out about this week's Torah portion. The first one is that this is a hard text because, in Leviticus 21, the Torah specifies a long list of physical disabilities and ailments that would disqualify a man from serving as a priest. This Torah portion is painful to many of us because it elevates the perfect male as one that is best to ritually serve God. Today we no longer have priests, instead, we have rabbis and cantors but this image of the perfect male rabbi still remains. Many of our amazing Jewish leaders are women, the entire staff of Hillel until recently was made up of all women. Let's remember the women who are serving our Jewish communities.
The second thing I want to point out is that this week's Torah also focuses on Kindness. To be kind to the poor, the stranger, and those in need. Most of the people during the biblical era were farmers, and this Torah portion speaks about harvesting crops and ensuring that poor people were treated with Kindness.
The Torah says,
"And when you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap all the way to the edges of your field, or gather the gleanings of your harvest; you shall leave them for the poor and the stranger because I am your God."
The final part of this text is a reminder that all we have comes from God, and God wants us to be kind. The word kind comes from the word kin meaning, "related to" and it's easier to be kind when we remember that you and I are kin we are related. We are not strangers, we are all created in the image of God .
Therefore I've decided that this week is be kind to others and be kind to yourself week. I know many of us due to home isolation and Covid-19 are not able to do the things we planned to do this semester. We haven't been able to finish our goals and have not spent this semester the way we had planned. So, be kind to yourself and practice acts of loving-kindness toward others and remember that whatever troubles we may have, we are not alone.
Rabbi Sandra Lawson received ordination from the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College in June 2018. She has served in the United States Army as a Military Police person with a specialty in Military Police Investigations, specializing in cases involving child abuse and domestic violence. Rabbi Sandra uses her rabbinic training to bring Judaism to where people already are in their lives. As a rabbinical student Rabbi Sandra received a prestigious grant to lead Shabbat services for unaffiliated Jews in a vegan cafe. She also received a grant to launch her podcast Minutes of Torah. Her vision as a Rabbi is to help build a more inclusive Jewish community where all who want to come are welcomed, diversity is embraced and we can come together to learn and to pray.