Torah E-Thought: a second chance

ב״ה

 
This Week at Lubavitch Centre of Leeds
Times for Leeds - May:
 
Light Candles Friday 8th:  7.30pm
 
Shabbat ends: 9:51pm 
 
Torah Portion:
 

Lubavitch Centre of Leeds   Email: office@judaismlive.com   Phone: 0113-2663311www.JudaismLive.com

 
 
Message from the Rabbi
 
 
Dear Friend,
 

I hope you are staying safe and keeping well.

This week’s Torah E-Thought is slightly longer than usual. It is actually the notes from a talk that I recorded for National Prison Radio as chaplaincy visits are currently curtailed.

Tuesday is Lag Baomer. On Sunday there is a pre Lag Baomer Torah Tots. There will be an amazing national event for children on Tuesday afternoon and a joint Leeds-Manchester Young Professionals event in the evening.

The recording of last night’s communal call is online here. Next Wednesday night we will be hosting on Zoom my brother, Rabbi Yehuda Pink Msc, the author of Medicine and Morals, who lectures nationally about Jewish Medical Ethics. He will be talking about organ donation in light of the opt-in legislation.

All our coronavirus support is online here.

Wishing you a Good Shabbos,


Rabbi Eli Pink
Director of Education
Chabad Lubavitch Leeds

.........................

Tomorrow is the 14th day of the Jewish month of Iyar and it is a minor Jewish holiday called Pesach Sheni or the "Second Passover."

 

Unfortunately, Pesach Sheini doesn’t mean we have another Seder with all the Passover food, but the background of how this second Pesach came about, is a story which means that the festival has relevance for each of us to this day.
 

Over 3300 years ago, a year after the Exodus, G d instructed the people of Israel to bring the Passover offering on the afternoon of the fourteenth of Nissan – the anniversary of the Exodus, and to eat it that evening, roasted over the fire, together with matzah and bitter herbs, as they had done the previous year just before they left Egypt. I’m going to read from the Torah – the Jewish Bible – what happened next.

 

“There were, however, certain persons who had become ritually impure through contact with a dead body, and could not, therefore, prepare the Passover offering on that day. They approached Moses and Aaron . . . and they said: ‘. . . why should we be deprived, and not be able to present G d’s offering in its time, amongst the children of Israel?’”

 

In response to their plea, G d established the 14th of Iyar as a day for the “Second Passover” (Pesach Sheni) for anyone who was unable to bring the offering on its appointed time in the previous month.
 

Anyone who did not bring a Passover offering—either because of impurity or because they had wilfully transgressed G d’s will—was given the opportunity to compensate for their shortcoming by bringing an offering on Pesach Sheni.
 

There are a few points that I think are interesting about this holiday:

Firstly, all the other Biblical festivals were direct commandments from G-d. This is the only festival that came about through people power – through the petition of the Jewish people. In addition, Passover took eight days, but this Second Passover managed to accomplish its purpose in only one day. And finally, the holiday falls a full month after Passover.


What is the significance of these ideas? The lesson of Pesach Sheni is that it’s never too late and the power of return is so powerful that it is better than the original!
 

No one is ever too lost or too forgone to make amends in their lives. When we stray or mess up, if we recognise how far gone we are and we are shaken to our core, we can rebound.

 

There was once a farmer who had a beautiful peacock. Locals used to come and pay just to see it strut around and open its beautiful plume. One day there was a huge downpour and the farm was a mud bath. As the geese and the chickens were flapping around, the beautiful peacock was covered in mud. The farmer was distressed – no one would pay to come see a muddy peacock. So he brings the peacock into his house and tries to gently shower it down. He does his best but the mud seems to be everywhere. The rain has calmed down, so he lets the peacock back out. The peacock struts a few steps, opens its plumage, gives itself a vigorous shake and all the mud flies off.

 

When it comes to washing off dirt, others can help, but for it to be real, it needs to come from within. It’s all about the inner cry—the resolve that we have to make change a reality in our lives.

 

Another fascinating insight from Pesach Sheini is that this rebounding and repentance is not the regular step-by-step conventional formula. It can happen in a single instant—or in the case of Pesach Sheini, in a single day—rather than taking the eight-day process of Passover.

 

The Talmud discusses a scenario where a couple are standing under the Chupah, the Jewish marriage canopy, getting ready to tie the knot and the groom declares – “I hereby take you as my wife, according to the laws of Moses and Israel…. on condition that I am a righteous person!” What if the groom was a known ruffian? An incorrigible sinner? Are they married? Well, the Talmud says, we consider the couple as potentially married and they need to get a divorce if they don’t want to stay married. Why? No one would think that he is a righteous guy! The reason is that because whatever a person’s past, in one moment of sincere regret, they can change to a complete penitent.

 

These ideas help us understand why Pesach Sheni needed to happen through our own motivation, by some of the Jewish people crying out to G d that we shouldn’t be left out. This is also why it is celebrated in the month of Iyar, whose theme is individual endeavour, as exemplified through the counting of the Omer, a commandment that we have every day of this month, counting the days until the festival of Shavuos. And we wait a month because repentance and rebirth takes perspective, if we would rush in Pesach Sheini without the month wait, we couldn’t be sure that we were serious about wanting a second chance.

 

The type of people that Pesach Sheini atoned for were those who had been able or unwilling to even join a Passover Seder. Imagine – Passover in the times of the Holy Temple. The highlight of the year! And there were Jews who were apathetic to it. The Torah talks about those who were spiritually impure or those who were so distant spiritually from the holy centre of Jerusalem that they weren’t able to celebrate Passover with the rest of the community. Yet for these individuals G-d created a new festival!


We all mess up. We weren’t created as perfect individuals who can always make balanced judgements. But the good news is that it is never the end of the story. Even when we make the worst possible error, there is no cause for despair. Quite the contrary, there is cause for acknowledgement, resolve and taking responsibility and repentance.

 
 
 
The Biggest Parade Ever!

 
 
Upcoming Events
Introduction to Shabbat
Friday, May 8, 2020 - 4:00 pm
Friday afternoon introduction to Shabbat on Facebook Live in the Alwoodley Residents’ Group as well as on Zoom. For details contact Rabbi Eli Pink on 07875 320 344
Light Candles
Friday, May 8, 2020 - 7:30 pm
Shabbat ends
Shabbat, May 9, 2020 - 9:51 pm
Pre Lag Baomer Torah Tots
Sunday, May 10, 2020 - 3:30 pm
Lunch and Learn
Monday, May 11, 2020 - 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm
This will be running as an online Zoom Class
More Info »
Ruth Bell's weekly session
Monday, May 11, 2020 - 8:30 pm
Mondays 8.30pm
Ruth Bell's weekly class covers current and relevant points of interest in the yearly cycle beginning with counting the Omer; a look at the weekly sedra, and the daily schedule of Tanya (Chassidic teachings) and Tehillim (psalms).
Via Zoom. For details please contact Ruth on 07963 316 279

National Lag Baomer Parade
Tuesday, May 12, 2020 - 4:00 pm
Introduction to Shabbat
Friday, May 15, 2020 - 4:00 pm
Friday afternoon introduction to Shabbat on Facebook Live in the Alwoodley Residents’ Group as well as on Zoom. For details contact Rabbi Eli Pink on 07875 320 344
Light Candles
Friday, May 15, 2020 - 7:30 pm
Shabbat ends
Shabbat, May 16, 2020 - 10:06 pm
Shabbat In the Heights
Sunday, May 17, 2020 - 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
Lunch and Learn
Monday, May 18, 2020 - 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm
This will be running as an online Zoom Class
More Info »
Ruth Bell's weekly session
Monday, May 18, 2020 - 8:30 pm
Mondays 8.30pm
Ruth Bell's weekly class covers current and relevant points of interest in the yearly cycle beginning with counting the Omer; a look at the weekly sedra, and the daily schedule of Tanya (Chassidic teachings) and Tehillim (psalms).
Via Zoom. For details please contact Ruth on 07963 316 279

 
 
Service Times

All services are suspended until further notice

 
 
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Parshah in a Nutshell

Parshat Emor

The Torah section of Emor (“ Speak”) begins with the special laws pertaining to the kohanim (“priests”), the kohen gadol (“high priest”), and the Temple service: A kohen may not become ritually impure through contact with a dead body, save on the occasion of the death of a close relative. A kohen may not marry a divorcee, or a woman with a promiscuous past; a kohen gadol can marry only a virgin. A kohen with a physical deformity cannot serve in the Holy Temple, nor can a deformed animal be brought as an offering.

A newborn calf, lamb or kid must be left with its mother for seven days before being eligible for an offering; one may not slaughter an animal and its offspring on the same day.

The second part of Emor lists the annual Callings of Holiness—the festivals of the Jewish calendar: the weekly Shabbat; the bringing of the Passover offering on 14 Nissan; the seven-day Passover festival beginning on 15 Nissan; the bringing of the Omer offering from the first barley harvest on the second day of Passover, and the commencement, on that day, of the 49-day Counting of the Omer, culminating in the festival of Shavuot on the fiftieth day; a “remembrance of shofar blowing” on 1 Tishrei; a solemn fast day on 10 Tishrei; the Sukkot festival—during which we are to dwell in huts for seven days and take the “Four Kinds”—beginning on 15 Tishrei; and the immediately following holiday of the “eighth day” of Sukkot ( Shemini Atzeret).

Next the Torah discusses the lighting of the menorah in the Temple, and the showbread (lechem hapanim) placed weekly on the table there.

Emor concludes with the incident of a man executed for blasphemy, and the penalties for murder (death) and for injuring one’s fellow or destroying his property (monetary compensation).