Monday, April 28, 2014

Text message Parashat Kedoshim.

Every week I send out a text message about the Torah reading. If you want to be added to the list please contact me today!!!

Parashat Kedoshim (you shall be a holy nation)

This Torah portion that deals with many rules includes the famous phrase, You shall love your neighbor as yourself. (By the way, that verse doesn't end with the word "yourself"; after yourself, there are the words "I am Hashem.")
Among these rules, we find the obligation to leave a corner of the fields to the poor and the strangers. For example, if we have a field with corn, we cannot harvest the whole field; we need to leave something for those in need.
What is really interesting is the Torah uses a general language for this rule and also a specific language for the same rule but for grapes. The Torah repeats the same commandment but for the fields of grapes.
Why is this so? I would like to suggest that there is a specific mention of the grapes because grapes represent happiness. We cannot be completely happy all the time. There are people in need and the Torah is highlighting that.
That is the way to become a holy nation. In our time of happiness, we still need to remember those in need.

Honey moon

Did you know?
After they get married, many couples go on a special trip that is known as a honeymoon. This is a nice custom, and it is well known that the couples take some time after the wedding for a romantic and relaxing time together. Nowadays, many people go to exotic destinations, places they never ever thought they were going to be and spend time with their spouses.
We may think that this is a modern custom. Let’s see…
Probably one of the sources for the honeymoon, believe it or not, is in the Torah. We read in the book of Deuteronomy Chapter 24:5 “When a man is newly wed, he need not go out on a military expedition, nor shall any public duty be imposed on him. He shall be exempt for one year for the sake of his family; to bring joy to the wife he has married”
This is one of the reasons the Sephardic Jews call a newly married groom “Hachatan Hamefoar,” the “Splendorous Groom,” when they call him for an aliyah to the Torah. This custom lasts for the first year of a man’s marriage.
We can understand from this that a married couple spent some time together after the wedding. But what’s the origin of the term “Honeymoon”?
Apparently, in ancient times, the couples went out for a period of time to enjoy themselves and drank honey wine (known also as mead). Mead was generally regarded as an aphrodisiac, among other things. It was also thought to restore youthful vigor and the gift of song and poetry. The Greeks referred to it as "ambrosia" and "nectar of the gods".
To reinforce this idea I want to share with you this passage of the Bible from the story of Sampson, Judges Chapter 14 verses 7-10
“Then he (Sampson) went down and talked with the woman, and he liked her.  8 Some time later, when he went back to marry her, he turned aside to look at the lion's carcass. In it was a swarm of bees and some honey, 9 which he scooped out with his hands and ate as he went along. When he rejoined his parents, he gave them some, and they too ate it. But he did not tell them that he had taken the honey from the lion's carcass.  10 Now his father went down to see the woman. And Samson made a feast there, as was customary for bridegrooms”
The Jewish people have invented many things; maybe the honeymoon is one of them.