Showing posts from April, 2017

Let's Take It Personally

Shabbat Chol haMo’ed Pesach 2017 Rabbi Esther Hugenholtz
Let’s Take It Personally
I don’t do this often because who wants a rabbi who abuses the pulpit in order to inflict smarmy tales of domestic bliss upon her congregation? Yet, I can’t resist: watching my two toddlers sing Mah Nishtanah at the Seder table was possibly one of the greatest sources of naches that I’ve been privileged to experience as a young Jewish parent.
I fully admit, I’m a fool for Pesach. I love Spring, I love the ‘thickness’ of the ritual and culture of the festival and I love cooking and hosting. A dear friend of mine spent part of the holiday with us and the three of us cooked a storm and our family enjoyed a Seder with all the trimmings: chicken soup with kneidlach, glazed brisket, quinoa salad, potato salad, egg salad and more (and you can probably guess where I’ve lingered on the kitniyot debate!) Once seated, I feasted my eyes on a beautifully set table, as I’m sure as many of you have, and shepped huge amoun…

Priest. Prophet, Rabbi

Parashat Tzav Rabbi Esther Hugenholtz
Priest, Prophet, Rabbi
Parashat Tzav welcome us deeper into Vayikra. The Book of Leviticus, is also known under its rabbinic name ‘Torat Kohanim’, the Priestly Law (Mishnah Megillah 1:5). We tend to associate Leviticus with all the stuff that makes us feel icky and that is difficult to talk about, like purity laws and the sacrificial cult. Added onto that is the institution of the Priesthood itself as well as the notion of commandedness, with which our portion opens: ‘tzav et Aharon v’et banav’ – ‘command Aaron and his sons’. The first chapters of Leviticus outline the sacrifices as well as the consecration of the Mishkan, Tabernacle.
The central question for us over the coming weeks is how can we re-read Leviticus in a way that is authentic to the intention of the text as well as compelling to the contemporary, progressive Jew? The fact that the book of Leviticus is called ‘Torat Kohanim’ by the Mishnah is significant: the Rabbis could have called i…