Vayikra – Leviticus 1:1-5:26

Facebook_CoverDesign_ParashatVayikraIt was recently reported that some Bible teachers at a Californian Christian seminary cited the lack of recycling bins on campus as a pure expression of their faith – namely, that by using up resources as quickly as possible, they were hastening the coming of the Lord and the New Creation. With the rise of Jewish start-ups like Urban Adamah and Wilderness Torah, it appears as though a swath of the Bay Area Jewish community is taking a very different tack. How can such diverse reading communities justify their reading of the Hebrew Bible as authentic?

Ellen Davis argued in her agrarian reading of the Bible, that "when the biblical codes are reread in light of the contemporary agrarian writers, it is evident that Torah is setting human life in the larger context that Aldo Leopold once termed 'the land community,' arguing that we may understand our situation differently, and more realistically by extending the boundaries of ethical consideration 'to include soils, waters, plants, and animals, or collectively: the land'."

That is the challenge being posed to us as we enter into the Book of Leviticus [Vayikra]. It describes in great details the laws of offerings, whether meal or animal, which include: (1) Ascent offering [‘olah] — wholly raised up in ascent to the divine by fire atop the altar; (2) Meal offering [minha] — prepared of fine flour, olive oil, and frankincense; (3) Peace offering [shelamim] — animal burned on the altar, with parts given to the priest and other meat eaten by the one bringing the offering; (4) Sin offering [hatat] — brought to atone for transgressions committed in error by the high priest, the entire community, the king, or any Israelite; (5) Guilt offering [asham] — brought by one who has misappropriated property of the sanctuary or is in doubt of transgression.

The namesake of this third book of the Pentateuch is a calling to extend the boundaries of ethical consideration to all sentient beings as a blessing.

- Rabbi Aubrey Glazer

Artwork note: This week’s illustration shows the skull of a bull – an ascent offering, or ‘olah. Parashat Vayikra includes detailed laws regarding cattle sacrifices. The Hebrew word for a sacrificial offering is korban, the root of which means "to be close to someone/thing." Most contemporary readers of the Tanakh are removed from the act of slaughter, making it difficult for them to appreciate that the killing and burning of korbanot were not merely (brutal) means of atonement; they were essential parts of a sensual, celebratory communion with the Divine (that concluded, appropriately, with a meal). Illustration by Christopher Orev Reiger.

A Visit From Rabbi Yonatan Neril

facebook_achshavyisrael6_december2016This past Sunday afternoon, December 18, the Achshav Yisrael committee of CBS presented its seventh program, "Israel's Environmental Challenges and the Relevance of Jewish Teachings." Just below, Achshav Yisrael committee member Eileen Auerbach provides a full report and some photographs snapped during the gathering.

* * * * *

Rabbi Yonatan Neril, founder and Executive Director of the Interfaith Center for Sustainable Development in Jerusalem, spoke to a group of over 30 attendees.

Rabbi Neril sees the global ecological crisis as more than a scientific or political problem. He says it is also a religious and spiritual challenge. He and his organization in Israel are mustering forces from international interfaith leadership to address environmental crises. He described a situation both in Israel and in the United States where clergy leaders only rarely address climate change to their congregations.

Rabbi Neril itemized the positive efforts being made in Israel to address use of gas and petroleum fuels, issues around water conservation, agriculture, food consumption, and the impact of pollution on the Israeli environment.

The attendees repeatedly expressed concern about the future of environmentalism in this country in light of the incoming Presidential Administration, and Rabbi Neril described how his organization does not work within the political establishment in Israel, saying, "the government is how we got where we are," and he doesn't expect political entities to create positive environmental change. Instead, his organization is establishing goals through faith communities, reaching people through educating them about spirituality, values, and the environment, and encouraging religious leaders to address their congregations directly.

During the active post-presentation discussion, one of the attendees, Louise Lipsey, from Congregation Kol Shofar's Green Team, encouraged attendees to look into a local group, Interfaith Power & Light, which responds to global warming through the promotion of energy conservation and efficiency and renewable energy.

Rabbi Neril is a regular contributor to The Huffington Post. His columns can be accessed by clicking here.

* * * * *

Check out some photos from the program below, and visit the CBS Facebook page for more.

ABOUT ACHSHAV YISRAEL: Achshav Yisrael’s mission is to provide quality programming about Israel to Congregation Beth Sholom and the broader community. Achshav Yisrael programs are open to all age groups and will occur on a regular basis. We intend to create a safe space at CBS for community exploration of Israel.
Achshav Yisrael Steering Committee Members: Eileen Auerbach, Becky Buckwald, Sandra Cohen, Betsy Eckstein, Ovid Jacob, Eva-Lynne Leibman, Ira Levy, Ephraim Margolin, Lucia Sommers


facebook_achshavyisrael1_december2016 facebook_achshavyisrael2_december2016 facebook_achshavyisrael3_december2016 facebook_achshavyisrael4_december2016 facebook_achshavyisrael5_december2016

Israel’s Environmental Challenges and theRelevance of Jewish Teachings

Buy your tickets our upcoming Achshav Yisrael program!

interfaithcenter "Israel’s Environmental Challenges and the Relevance of Jewish Teachings" will take place on Sunday, December 18, 3 - 5 p.m., in Koret Hall.

Join Achshav Yisrael and Rabbi Yonatan Neril to learn about ecology in Israel and what Jewish wisdom has to teach us about environmentalism. Rabbi Neril will also describe his ongoing work to catalyze a transition to a sustainable, thriving, and spiritually-aware society through the leadership of faith communities in Israel.

Rabbi Neril is the founder and Executive Director of the Interfaith Center for Sustainable Development (Jerusalem). He was also the the editor and lead author on two books exploring Jewish environmental ethics. A Bay Area native, Rabbi Neril received his BA and MA from Stanford University with an environmental focus, and he was ordained in Israel.

Rabbi Neril’s presentation will be followed by facilitated “break-out” group conversations. An Israeli appetizer buffet and refreshments are included.

Parents, please note that childcare for kids one year and older will be available on-site for the cost of $5 per child. This fee can be paid on the ticket sales page.

Tickets are $10 per person and are available for purchase at: www.universe.com/israelienvironment

AchshavYisraelLogo ABOUT ACHSHAV YISRAEL: Achshav Yisrael’s mission is to provide quality programming about Israel to Congregation Beth Sholom and the broader community. Achshav Yisrael programs are open to all age groups and will occur on a regular basis. We intend to create a safe space at CBS for community exploration of Israel.
Achshav Yisrael Steering Committee Members: Eileen Auerbach, Becky Buckwald, Sandra Cohen, Betsy Eckstein, David Herrera, Ovid Jacob, Eva-Lynne Leibman, Ira Levy, Ephraim Margolin, and Lucia Sommers