Chavarah- Jewish Community Learning

A blog of Jewish study and traditions. Notes from classes: Torah Study with Rabbi Marder, Toledot and Shabbaton as well as other details found of interest.

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Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The Raven and The Dove

Genesis 8: 6-12

Summary of Topics:

It is all about The Raven.... And the Dove

The raven returns and redeems his reputation later when he feeds Elijah

Noah holds the dove in his hand – a bond of closeness

Book ref: A Pigeon an A Boy

Olive branch a cultural symbol linked to peace

Trees as a symbol of vitality, fertility and resilience

Rabbi Marder Quote: To best understand the conflicts in this story (and others) you need to “accept the reality of views of plurality”

Why the Dove brings back a bitter leaf from the Olive tree

Sermons on Ravens and Doves

(details to fill in later)

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Hametz is Matzo 'Puffed up'

Exodus 33 - 34 - A Parasha about Pesach
34:18 - "You shall observe the feast of unleavened bread for 7 days..."

A commandment.

What does it mean to eat unleavened bread?

What is Hametz? Yeast. The thing that makes the bubbles and adds air to the bread. A fermenting process.

Meaning of Matzoh? Bread of affliction, bread of suffering, poverty and also the bread of freedom.

Ancient world Hametz not allowed in sacrifices - a symbol of decay or impurity, symbol of the evil inclination. "Stirs you up to do wrong"

Process to search for Hametz - and then to burn it. Then you say a prayer that you have gotten it out of your home and if there is any more it is like dust and not really there. It is a symbolic purification.

Hametz also has an image of puffed up by ego, pride. Why eat it at all? Not that we want to get rid of ego but we want to control them. So doing without for a week symbolizes our being able to discipline our behavior over our impulses.

Also custom of 'selling' the Hametz. They sell it to someone who is not Jewish. This is partly for economic reasons. For the merchant who deals in products with Hametz and also to donate to charity.

Relation of the word Hametz and Matzo - in Hebrew uses the same letters except for one:
Matzo - Mem Tzadi Hey and Hametz - Het Mem Tzadi. Only a tiny mark can change the hey to het .
Scientific difference: Matzo is made in 18 minutes - even one second more changes it to Hametz.

Teaching that Hametz is puffed up Matzo - Hametz is made from the same thing that Matzo. Hametz represents the ego that is puffed up. Not necessarily a bad thing but it is maybe "too much of a good thing". It is a balance between the soul and the ego.

The goal is to be able to control our ego and desires to make it serve for good.

Monday, April 06, 2009

The Blessing of the Sun April 8th 2009

Birkat HaChammah or Birkat haHammah
“Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to separate day from night; they shall serve as signs for the set times—the days and the years; and they shall serve as lights in the expanse of the sky to shine upon the earth.”

This is a very unusual observance that only happens once every 28 years.... so at first it seemed a bit 'pagan' in nature as you say blessings for the Sun... but it took a bunch of Jewish scholars countless hours to figure it out - so I guess it warrants an entry in this blog and a few links with information:

Every 10,227 days the sun returns to its position at Creation

Bless the Sun

A good time though to think of ways to use the attributes of the sun to help heal the earth!

It is a coincidence that the very evening of this special occasion begins the Passover week... they will find many midrashim to make this significant!