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February 17, 1989 - Image 43

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1989-02-17

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

TORAH PORTION

AKIVA HEBREW
DAY SCHOOL





dedicate every aspect of our
lives to God. To a nation of
priests, can there be a more
important moment than the
first minute of every day?
Our prayers begin with two
separate blessings that em-
phasize our relationship to
Torah, the heart of every
Jew's existence. Commen-
tators explain that the first
blessing is for the Written
Law and the second for the
Oral Law. Then we read two
selections, one from the Torah
and one from the Talmud. It
is fascinating that out of the
entire written Torah what
was chosen is the priestly
blessing, so that, in effect,
after lifting our hands like
temple priests, the very first
words of Torah our lips utter
each and every day serve to
remind us — if we listen to

Shabbat Tezave:
Exodus
27:20-30:10,
Ezekiel 43:10-27.

what our mouths are saying
— that we are all priests who
dedicate our lives to God.
On the Sabbath, the ritual
of blessing one's children is
performed at the Friday night
table when the parent places
both hands on each child and
recites, again, the priestly
blessing. The 15 words from
Deuteronomy thus become
associated with our deepest
feelings of love, paralleling
what the priests must feel
when they are commanded to
bless the congregation ".
with love."
We also become priests in
the larger, more public sense.
During Passover and Yom
Kippur we wear special white
robes, the kittel, as the
priests wore in the temple
and, when the temple still
stood, we actually became
priests as each family head
sacrificed the paschal lamb in
Jerusalem. Even today at
every seder this priestly role
is extended by the fact that
we wash our hands before
eating the vegetables that are
dipped in the salt water, an
act intended to evoke the
priestly custom of washing
before eating any vegetables
touched by water. On Yom
Kippur one of the most dra-
matic parts of the synagogue
service occurs when we fall on
our knees during the Musaf
Amidah and repeat what the
in the temple.
After the temple's destruc-
tion, the synagogue — with
replicas of temple furnishings
such as the Ark, the table, the
menorah, the eternal lamp —
functioned more and more as
a mini-sanctuary devoted to

prayer. And over the years
what has evolved is that all
Jews, not only priests and
Levites, possess a feeling of
equal opportunity inside the
sanctuary in miniature.
Walk into a synagogue on a
regular Sabbath and the per-
son leading the prayers may
be the local kosher butcher.
Another man, a pharmacist
by trade, opens the Ark. A
third person, an architect,
calls the people up to the
Torah by name and the per-
son who actually cantillates
the week's portion may be a
teenager. Virtually the entire
service can be handled by any
boy over _13. Quite a few
synagogues don't have an of-
ficial rabbi at all. Other
religions have a clear demar-
cation between the laity and
the ministry; for us, all such
distinctions are blurred. We
are all part of the service. In
effect, we are a nation of
priests.
And if we don't believe it,
ask a non-Jewish visitor who
enters the synagogue when
everyone is bedecked in the
prayer shawl, shaking, sway-
ing, eyes closed. Ask him to
distinguish between the lay-
men and the clergy. He won't
be able to. In his eyes, we all
look like priests. The time has
come for us to see ourselves
for what we really are. A ho-
ly nation.

SYNAGOGUES fri•

Beth Shalom
Preschool Event

Congregation Beth Sha-
lom's Jewish Experiences For
Families (J.E.F.F.) committee
will present "A Magical
Masguerade Morning, featur-
ing Purim, with Esther,
Mordecai and the Gang." at
10 a.m. Feb. 26. This is the se-
cond in a series of preschool
programs which include
crafts, and cooking.
The program is free and
open to preschoolers and their
parents and/or grandparents.
The next program will take
place April 30. Contact the
synagogue, 547-7170, for
information.

Mishnah Ideas
Topic Of Talk

Rabbi Sherwin Wine of the
Birmingham Temple, will
present the third of four talks
on the theme "Who Wrote the
Talmud?" at 8:30 p.m. Mon-
day. He will discuss "The
Ideas of the Mishnah."
There is a charge. For fur-
ther information please call
the temple office at 477-1410.

invites parents of
prospective students
of all grade levels

AKIVA

to the

OPEN HOUSE

Tuesday, February 28, 1989

8:00.9:00 Program

7:30 p.m. Reception

Akiva Hebrew Day School

STOLLMAN EDUCATION CENTER
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MANICURES

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14 Mile & Orchard talcs
Farmington Hills

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

43

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