Posted on April 26, 2013 by Aliza Geller
Over the past couple of weeks, students in their first year of the Pardes Center for Jewish Educators have been participating in a Devar Torah workshop with DLK (Rabbi David Levin-Kruss). This is the Devar Torah I wrote to be presented at the workshop yesterday, for Parashat Emor. Please keep in mind that this was written for middle school students and it is written to be read aloud. Emor has a many parts and it was hard to decide what to focus on, especially since I needed to find something age appropriate and relevant.
If you were at the workshop, you might notice that this is not the same version I delivered yesterday, I changed the ending after some of the constructive criticism I received. I am also happy to receive comments from our dear blog readers:
Hi everyone! Its Parsha time again. It would be great if you would join me in sitting on the floor so we can all see and hear each other.
Think about it for a minute, what is the most valuable thing in the world? I have done the research and many people agree that time is the most valuable thing in the world. I like to think that that this is one of the reasons that time is something we are commanded to give to G-d. We do this by celebrating holidays, which are the sacred days designated by G-d.
In Parashat Emor G-d says, “These are My fixed times, the fixed times of the Lord, which you shall proclaim as sacred occasions.” Each week we have Shabbat, and each month we have Rosh Chodesh. We also have Pesach, Shavuot, Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, and Sukkot. In Temple times these were also occasions on which, the best animals were sacrificed to G-d. The idea of sacred time is especially important today because we no longer sacrifice in the Temple. Giving our time to G-d can be viewed as another type of sacrifice, since it is very precious to us.
There are also some very practical reasons for having holidays at fixed times. First, some of the holidays celebrated today are connected to the Harvests that used to take place each season these are Pesach, Shavuot and Sukkot. Secondly, all of the holidays have pieces that make them communal, this includes services and meals. If holidays do not have fixed times and people celebrate them whenever they want, we lose the parts that bring our community together.
As we move towards the end of the year, it is time to start thinking about how you will use your time during the summer. Many of you will be going to camps, on vacations, or just spending time with friends. You can also spend your time reviewing Hebrew vocabulary for next year, or volunteering in the community. You should all have an amazing summer, but keep in mind just how short it is and how valuable your time is!