Your Favourite Parashah Is?

by Arliene Botnick, September 30, 2023

Over the course of a year, beginning on Erev Simchat Torah, we complete the annual cycle of Torah readings. We complete the last section of Deuteronomy and begin again with the first few verses of Beresheet. There are 54 parashiot that are read over the course of a year (allowing for the reality that seven times in 19 years, we celebrate a leap year and add an additional month of Adar).

Many of the portions read are not what we consider our favourites. When our children are assigned their bar/bat, b’nai mitzvah portion, they would prefer not to read about leprosy or body fluids or the mistreatment of other peoples. But there are definitely favourite portions that chanters enjoy reading from and we all enjoy discussing. Many of us are supporting the writing our new Torah by donating money and “purchasing” particular portions. One of the winners for most favourite portion is from the first book of Genesis, because it includes the passage beginning with the words “lech lecha”, the words God addresses to Abraham as God sets Abraham out on the journey to the land that God will show him. Congregants love this passage, in particular because of the beautiful song that was written by Debbie Freidman and that often is sung at a child’s Simcha!

Another favourite is anything that has to do with Moses leading us through the desert into the promised land; with Miriam singing with the women when we have crossed over the Reed Sea; with our standing at the foot of Sinai waiting for Moses to come down with the tablets of stone. And I want to suggest one other favourite, one that we are going to read on October 21 when we ask our children to join us at services and celebrate their wonderful pets. On that Shabbat, we will be reading from Parashat Noach. We learned that Noah was a righteous man in his generation, and he walked with God. Abraham was righteous for all time and walked before God. It is to Abraham the opportunity to go to the promised land is given. Abraham is not only spoken to by God but speaks to God and even challenges God about the impending destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. Noah is a little bit more passive, but does build the ark and does save the animals and for that we all should be very thankful!!

As we look at our changing world, we realize that we are losing so many species of animals. This loss will have a huge impact on our future. Many efforts are being made to save endangered animals and to protect them, because God knows, and we must know, every animal has a purpose. I personally love animals. For those of you who know my family, we have been home to dogs, cats, snakes, iguanas, turtles, fish, gerbils, guinea pigs, and for a short while, a mynah bird! During Covid, my spunky Zoe, my rescue dog, moved in with me and is a great pal! We want to honour our pets and bless our pets, but we can’t bring them all into the sanctuary (although I did try to convince the powers that be) In lieu of live animals, we are asking our congregants and their children (and yes, some of our adults may have favourite stuffies) to bring their stuffed animals to service on 21 October, and our Rabbi will bless, in absentia, the live animals we have at home. And to make it an even more fun filled morning, we were asking each of you to bring some favourite desserts to share with one another for our Kiddush after the service. The animals were saved during the flood because God knew how important they were for all of humanity. Let’s protect our animals; let’s take care of our pets; let’s value this world that we are so fortunate to have. To a sweet and healthy and fulfilling 5784.

Filed under: Educator's Message

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