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Weekly Message 03.22.2024 Parashat Vayikra

Parashat Vayikra (and He called) Leviticus 1:1 -5:26

2nd Torah Parashat Zachor Deuteronomy 25:17 -19

HafTorah Samuel I 15:1-34

Dear friends,

As we are now only a day away from the celebration of Purim, we observe Shabbat Zachor, the Sabbath of Memory. And the memories that we recall are not the most pleasant, but of evil that has befallen us over time. After beginning the Book of Vayikra (Leviticus) with our first Torah, we read from a second Torah from the Book of Deuteronomy where we are commanded to remember Amalek and what the Amalekites did to the Children of Israel after they had crossed the Sea of Reeds and experienced the trauma of being chased by their former captives, Pharoah's army, and the miracle that saved them.

We read this on the Shabbat immediately preceding Purim, the holiday in which we remember another brute, Haman. And in the special Haftorah of this Shabbat (Book of Samuel 15:2-34), we read about the King Saul's defeating the Amalekites but not destroying them. For many, including myself, these readings have been among the most difficult to comprehend and justify. After all, our scripture and tradition command us to love our neighbors and particularly, to love the strangers among us. As I have aged and lived through the experiences of three quarters of a century of history, I have learned to interpret all of this as symbolism. Yes, we should hate evil whenever we encounter it and do all we can to conquer it. However, we must hate evil, but not people that we perceive to be evil because when we hate other human beings, we lessen our own morality. Just as Jews and Gentiles of all races and creeds protested mostly civilly and peacefully during the Civil Rights era and through many dark periods in our own history, we must help repair the world by wiping out evil but at the same time, through protecting precious human life.

Yesterday, prior to this Shabbat Zachor, many Jews observed Tanit Esther, the Fast of Esther, a daytime fast to recall how our ancestors in the Persian Empire fasted as they contemplated their annihilation prior to their rescue by Mordechai and Esther which we will read in the Book of Esther, the Megillah, on Sunday. And a few days ago, we hosted the Baha'i faith Naw-Ruz (new year) as they broke a 19-day fast to prepare for the celebration. And at the same time, the Christian faith is observing Lent , a period of fasting and denial leading up to the celebration of Easter. And coincidentally, this year the lunar month of Ramadan also occurs at this time, a month during which our Islamic neighbors also fast and practice self-denial. As I become more immersed in our interfaith activities, I have found that we have more in common with other faiths and cultures than I had ever realized. Let us build on that and turn our backs to hatred and evil by setting an example of tolerance and togetherness.

Please join me at our Shabbat Zachor services this evening at 7:30 pm and tomorrow (Saturday) morning at 9:30 am both in-person and on Zoom. And we gather once again on Sunday at 1 pm for a social hour filled with good company and the sweets of the season, plenty of Hamantaschen, ice cream, and other goodies followed by the reading of the Book of Esther, the Megillah at 2 pm. The Megillah reading will also be broadcast virtually on Zoom. Feel free to come in costume, to make some noise, and to enjoy the afternoon! And remember that Purim is a time to help feed the needy so be as generous as you can either with assisting those who are actively engaged at food distribution points as some of us will be doing on Sunday morning or through your donations to those organizations like the ones I detailed in last week's message or any of your own choosing!

Then we turn our attention to preparations for Pesach, only a month away!

Shabbat Shalom and Chag Purim Sameach!

Ron Becker,

Spiritual Leader



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Topic: Shabbat Service, Friday 03/22/2024

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Topic: PURIM, Sunday 03/24/2024 1:45 pm

Time: Mar 24, 2024 1:45 pm Eastern Time (US and Canada)

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