Friday, May 09, 2008

מה ענין שמיטה אצל המגדף؟

I had to share my bar mitzva parsha, so I only ever learned to lein alíyas 1-3. This Shabbos, however, for the first time ever, I will (iy"H) be leining my entire bar mitzva parsha, parashat Emor, in my idiosyncratic semi-neo-Masoretic accent and mixed Eastern and Western Ashkenazic cantillation (trop) system. This is at my rav's shul, so if you know who/where that is and are going to be in the neighborhood, feel free to stop by and throw more-than-a-decade-old candy.

Since I started "reb school" (and, incidentally, stopped calling it that, since I picked up the term while working in a Conservative school and am now back in my native Orthodox cultural context where no one uses that abbreviation), whenever I stay by my rabbi for Shabbat he randomly throws rabbinical tasks at me, like "hey Steg, the guy who's supposed to run the beginners' service is stuck on the other side of the river — why don't you do it?"

So as I was learning the end of my parsha, which I had never learned to lein before, I was wondering what I could say if I got asked to give a devar torah at shalashudess.

I don't know how practical it is — since I haven't been at it for long — but I think that ideally, se‘uda shelishit divrey torah should involve the interface between the weeks; a theme of the end of Shabbos; or connections between last week's parsha and the coming week's parsha.

There's a famous question about the first line of Parashat Behar — ma ‘inyan shemita eitzel Har Sinai? Why does it say that God gave Moshe the laws of the sabbatical-fallow year specifically at Mount Sinai? What do they have to do with each other?

But my question about joining Parashat Emor and Parashat Behar together is: The very last passage in Emor is about the megadeif — the half-Israelite half-Egyptian man who gets into a fight with another Israelite and curses God. Why the juxtaposition? What does shemita have to do with blasphemy?

I think an answer might be in the way the Torah deals with the prohibition of noqvo sheim, cursing God's name, and with the consequences of murder and damage to animals — kageir ka’ezrahh, kageir ka’ezrahh yihyeh — “whether immigrant or native” the same rules apply. No discrimination in legal matters between newcomers and oldtimers (how such discrimination crops up in Halakha at other points is a separate discussion).

We then move on to Shemita. The institutions of Shemita every 7 years and Yoveil every 50 teach us that we are all immigrants and migrants in relation to God. This isn't our land; we just live here. God holds all the deeds. So in that way, we are all alike — everything in this world truly belongs its Creator, no matter how tight we try and hold on.


Blogger Tzipporah said...

sweet. nice connection.

5/13/2008 12:52 PM  
Blogger B.BarNavi said...

Steg, have you done any recordings for your Torah reading? I would love to hear your semi-Yekke/Halabi trup in your Ashkefardic accent.

7/09/2008 9:11 PM  
Blogger Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) said...




a few years ago i started learning leining by recording myself and then listening to myself on repeat as i go about my business.

here's, thematically enough, the last alíya of Emor:

7/09/2008 9:48 PM  
Blogger B.BarNavi said...

Sorry for the delayed response, but yes, that is Yekkish at its core, but I can't hear they Syrian stuff (other than the pronunciation!) - maybe it's the Zoqeif Godoul - which is not Yekke as far as I remember.

7/27/2008 7:07 PM  
Blogger Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) said...

the Syrian trop is limited to the end of the ‘alíya, everything else is a mixture of Yekkish and whatever particular variant of Eastern Ashkenaz i learned for my bar mitzva.

7/28/2008 11:03 AM  

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