Emor, Leviticus 21:1-24:23 – Parashat ha Shavuah for Saturday, May 1, 2021

For the last thirteen months we have been in lockdown, spending most of our time in our houses, in isolation and a kind of suspended animation, where time seems to stand still. Or, perhaps more accurately, the days run into each other and seem to repeat themselves. How do we make sense of this strange time? 

This week’s Torah portion teaches us to count our days, Shabbat and the annual cycle of the holy days. On Shabbat it says, “On six days work may be done, but on the seventh day there shall be a sabbath of complete rest, a sacred occasion. You shall do no work; it shall be a sabbath of the LORD throughout your settlements.” (Leviticus 23:3) 

Shabbat can be special time, sacred time. Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel wrote Shabbat, “is a day on which we are called upon to share in what is eternal in time, to turn from the results of creation to the mystery of creation, from the world of creation to the creation of the world.” 

By entering and inhabiting Shabbat with intention, whether it is by lighting candles, cleaning the house, baking challah, having a nice dinner, spending time with those we love or disconnecting from media, we can reconnect with what is special, sacred and holy and in this way mark the days and weeks as special. 

As the Psalmist wrote, “Teach us to number our days, so we may attain a heart of wisdom.”


~Rabbi Dean Kertesz