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		                                    Word Of Torah		                                </span>

Word of Torah

Written by: Jason Schnissel

Parashat Vayikra


As part of the cycle for reading the Torah, this week we begin reading from the book of Leviticus. In the first Parasha of the book, Vayikra, God calls to Moses and provides guidance on the five types of sacrifices that were to be offered at the sanctuary. Just as Moses provided instructions to the Israelites in the desert, today and for roughly the last 2000 years, our Rabbis help to provide guidance in navigating Jewish ritual.
With the ongoing public health crisis, Rabbis across the globe are providing their thoughts on how to manage Jewish life during this period. This is even more prevalent within the Orthodox community where rules are more stringent. Earlier this week the Chief Orthodox Rabbi of London released a list of regular products and a set of guidelines to allow those in need to buy a range of basic goods for Passover that are not under special supervision. This is a deviation from standard protocol, which requires all goods used during Passover to be under specific supervision. Perhaps an even greater deviation from standard rule came out of Israel this morning when Senior Orthodox rabbis ruled to allow Zoom to be used for Passover Seders. The rabbis felt it was important for families to connect to grandparents for the Seder. That is a decision I am certain we can all appreciate.
Surprisingly however, this is not the first times rabbis have been forced to deal with the ins and outs of Jewish ritual during a public health crisis. In the Mishna, which was codified during the third century, we can find rabbis weighing in with various best practices on how to get through a plague. Much of the commentary related to this matter can be found in Taanit 21b. While scrolling though chapter 21 online I found myself amid chapter 22 which provides commentary on the righteousness of common people. In the chapter there is a situation described where:
“Two brothers came to the marketplace. Elijah said to Rabbi Beroka: These two also have a share in the World-to-Come. Rabbi Beroka went over to the men and said to them: What is your occupation? They said to him: We are jesters, and we cheer up the depressed.”
While we each navigate this difficult period know that within the Jewish world some of the most stringent rules are being relaxed to allow easier observance of ritual and for families to remain connected. And perhaps even more importantly, that laughter is not only the best medicine but that those that help another smile are provided a place in the World-to-Come. During the coming weeks my hope is that we all remain healthy and that we each have an opportunity to make another smile.  


Tue, March 31 2020 6 Nisan 5780