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  • Weekly Torah Portion

  • April 19, 2014

    Shabbat Chol haMoed Passover

    Rabbi Barry Leff Beth Tikvah Congregation - Richmond, British Columbia, a Conservative Congregation

    One of my favorite passages in the Torah is one that we read today, on the Shabbat that falls during Pesach (Passover). Vayomer harayni na et k’vodecha, And he said, “Please show me your Glory” (Exodus 33:18).

    The reason that passage resonates so strongly with me is that as I struggle in my relationship with God—as I ask God “show me your Glory”—I find it very comforting somehow that even Moses, who talked to God, who saw a vision of God in the burning bush, who was the vehicle through which miracles were performed, still had the need to ask this question. It symbolizes for me that our search for God is never complete. That no matter what kind of spiritual level we reach, a sense of yearning for more is an integral part of the religious experience. It’s a message to accept that yearning for greater intimacy with God as an essential ingredient in how we mere mortals relate to God—that we don’t need to feel frustrated or disappointed that we haven’t solved all the mysteries, or achieved a relationship as close as we would like.

    I want to explore two questions today. First, why do we read this passage today? I love it, it’s a beautiful passage, but what’s the connection to Passover? And secondly, what is it that Moses is asking for? After all, he’s already on “intimate” terms with God; how do we understand this seemingly strange request?

    The Torah reading for today is Exodus 33:12-34:26. The obvious connection to today is in the latter part of the reading: 34:18-25 gives an account of the three pilgrimage festivals, which include Passover.  But why did the rabbis decide to include this earlier section that talks about God’s relationship with Moses?

    For a clue, we can put this reading in the context of the other scriptural readings we have today. It is customary to read Shir haShirim, the Song of Songs today, and the haftorah for today is a selection from the book of Ezekiel which talks about resurrection. 

    Shir haShirim is read today because this is the spring holiday--in fact, one of the names for Pesach is Chag haAviv, the spring holiday—and Shir haShirim is clearly tied to the spring. It is full of references to flowers, beautiful fragrances, intimacy—all images we associate with the spring. Spring is a time of rebirth and renewal. Trees bud, grass grows, flowers bloom, lambs are born. Which makes the Ezekiel text understandable as the physical resurrection described is surely the most
    potent symbol of rebirth we can imagine.

    Continue reading.

  • Weekly Torah Portions Throughout the Year

    The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism provides descriptive readings and podcasts describing weekly Torah portions and other Festival readings. Torah Sparks has been in publication for more than 12 years, and provides a description of each weeks parashah.

    Please refer to the following links:

    Torah Sparks - Discussion Guide to the Weekly Torah Portion

    Two Minute Torah Podcast - provided in mp3 and transcript form

  • Religion and Worship Events

    Saturday, April 19, 2014
    10:00 AM
    Sunday, April 20, 2014
    8:30 AM
    Monday, April 21, 2014
    10:00 AM
    Monday, April 21, 2014
    7:15 PM
    Tuesday, April 22, 2014
    10:00 AM