The Torah belongs to us all

This coming Sunday we celebrate the giving of the Torah from God to the Jewish people. This extraordinary moment is recorded by the Torah as follows:

“You stand this day all of you before Adonai your God; your captains of your tribes, your elders, and your officers, with all the men of Israel, your little ones, your wives, and the stranger that is in your camp, from the hewer of wood to the drawer of water: that you should enter into the covenant of Adonai your God, and into the oath, which Adonai your God makes with you this day.” Deut. 29:9-11

The Torah makes it very clear; its teaching belongs to all of us, without a single exception. The rich and the poor, the old and the young, and of course men and women alike. The Torah teaches us inclusion and not exclusion.
 Therefore, it is outrageous that once again a leader of the Women of the Wall was arrested for bringing a Torah Scroll to the Western Wall, and literally the Torah was arrested with her. Lesley Sachs, the executive director of Women of the Wall, was detained as she exited the Western Wall plaza this Tuesday after prayers to mark the start of a new month in the Hebrew calendar. The reason given for the police action was smuggling a Torah scroll into the women’s section.” The Ultra-Orthodox rabbinical authorities at the Western Wall have continued to bar the WOW from bringing a Torah scroll in, or from using one of the many scrolls kept in the men’s section. The battle over the wall was supposed to have been resolved in January when the Israeli government approved the creation of an upgraded egalitarian prayer space at another section of the wall, after years of negotiations. Most of us hailed the decision at the time as “historic” and the Women of the Wall saw it as a victory.

But the government has so far failed to advance the plan under pressure from the ultra- Orthodox parties in the ruling coalition, who oppose it. I think it is time to remind them what is the right thing to do: Please sign the online petition of the Women of the Wall at: http://www.womenofthewall.org.il/get-involved/hands-off-women-of-the-wall/ Thank you for your support. Let’s free the Torah for all of us.

Shabbat Shalom and Chag Shavuot Sameach
Rabbi Adrian M Schell (Source: NewYorkTimes / Photograph: WOW)

Torah Reading for Shabbat Naso

Numbers 4:21-7:89 (Reading Num 4:21-45; P p.923; H p.586) Haftarah Judges 13:2-25 (P p.947, H p.602)

Parashat Naso (Lift up) focuses on the structure of the cult our ancestors had to obey throughout their journey. Two detailed administrative accounts frame this parashah: The Levite’s census, and the record of the tribal chief’s gifts for the dedication of the altar. Whereas Leviticus typically focuses on the ritual purity of the sanctuary, the book of Numbers is concerned with maintaining the purity of the camp as a whole.

Torah Reading for Shavuoth

1st Scroll: Exodus 19:1-20:23

2nd Scroll: Numbers 28:26-28:31 Haftarah Isaiah 42:1-12 (P p.1478.)

Torah Study this Shabbat morning at 08h45

Podcast of Rabbi Schell’s weekly Sermons Tuesdays on Radio Today (10h30) or: http://goo.gl/LsHQrY.

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