STXJCC Happenings 06/21/2017
Today is the 28th day of the Hebrew month of Sivan, 5777. Rosh Chodesh Tamuz, the new moon of the Hebrew month of Tamuz, falls this Friday and Shabbat.
Shabbat on St Croix this week begins at 6:38 pm.
A summary of this week's Torah portion appears at the end of this email.
Marina and Jamie are married! Mazel tov מזל טוב !
This week's Torah portion is Korach, Numbers 16:1-18:32.
Korach, a Levite, and two members of the tribe of Reuven --- Datan and Aviram --- lead a rebellion against Moses and Aaron. They accuse Moses and Aaron of raising themselves above the community of Isrealites, all of whom are holy. In return, Moses chides Korach for aspiring to privileges above those reserved for the Levites. He tells Korach that God will choose who is holy by accepting or rejecting an incense offering.
When Moses sends for Datan and Aviram, they refuse to come.
In the morning, each of the rebels, together with Moses and Aaron, offers incense in a fire-pan to God before the Tent of Meeting. God's Presence appears and threatens to destroy the entire community, but Moses intercedes and the Israelites are told to withdraw from the dwellings of Korach, Datan, and Aviram. Moses tells the people that if the rebels die an unnatural death, that will be a sign that Moses is God's chosen leader. The ground opens and all of Korach's people are swallowed up. A fire destroys the 250 rebels in his party. Their fire-pans are declared sacred, collected by Eleazar the priest, and hammered into plating for the altar.
But the people then protest that Moses and Aaron bear responsibility for the rebels' deaths. As God prepares to annihilate the Israelites, Moses tells Aaron to make expiation for them. Those whom Aaron reaches are saved from the plague, but a total of 14,700 Israelites perish.
God tells Moses to collect the staffs of the chieftans of each tribe and to leave them in the Tent of Meeting. The staff of the man chosen by God will be made to bloom as a further lesson to the rebels. Overnight, Aaron's staff sprouts almond blossoms.
Then God speaks to Aaron, telling him that he and his sons are directly responsible for the Tabernacle. The Levites are to serve under the priests and are to take care not to touch any of the sacred furnishings under pain of death.
All sacrifices and offerings, first fruits and firstborn animals, and the redemption price of the firstborn --- gifts to God --- are given to the priests for all time. The Levites are given the tithes of the Israelites in return for their service in the Tabernacle, but are to receive no share of the land. One tenth of the tithes and the best part of the gifts are to be given by the Levites to God as their donation.
[adapted from Teaching Torah: A Treasury of Insights and Activities, by Sorel Goldberg Loeb and Barbara Binder Kadden].
Rabbi Marna Sapsowitz