This week’s Parashah, though couched in a terminology that may seem unfamiliar to modern ears, deals with issues that are topical for every age–issues of guilt and redress, wrong-doing and atonement. What is especially striking is that these issues are first brought up in the Torah in the context of unwitting transgression. The focus throughout this first parasha of Vayikra is on mistakes and cases of doubt. There is an important message in this: we seldom know for sure if what we’re doing is wrong. And yet, only one who can acknowledge responsibility for his past actions is in a position to change his future actions.
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It is a strange thing, to be a memory…. I write from a moment in my own past—from within my memories. In fact, I realize that I am my memories. I am everything that I remember up to this point in my life. I drift between the past and the future—living and dreaming and thinking in the past, but writing in my own future.
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This week’s havel havelim covers everything from the t’fillin controversy to pictorial love letters to Israel, all with a healthy dose of optimism.
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An embittered survivor cannot speak of what he was forced to do to survive the horrors of Birkenau. A young girl in Texas is haunted by a memory of something she could not have lived. Their meeting will bring each of them face to face with themselves, and with the hope that lies on the other side of despair.
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I am not a citizen of the world; the world is too big a place for me. I belong to a small people whose destiny I embrace with every fiber of my being. To learn a page of Talmud is to be as close to home as I have ever come. In embracing heritage, we gain more than the world. It is ourselves that we gain.
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It is ironic, and somehow appropriate that Holocaust Remembrance Day is not commemorated in Israel. At least not on the same day as the rest of the world commemorates it. Truly, we are “a people that dwells alone.” How to commemorate Yom HaShoah is a dilemma that we still grapple with. Here, it’s personal; not a historical event to be commemorated, but a memory to be endured. There are a large number of Israelis who know first-hand “how bad it got”. And even the children and grandchildren know to some extent, just because of the the things that their parents and grandparents can’t speak of. And yet, even here, the survivors were at first afraid to speak of it for fear of not being understood. Either you were there, in which case no words are necessary, or you weren’t, in which case no words are enough.
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