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Dan Has Questions About Fractions, Holidays, and Freedom

04/20/2022 02:42:43 PM


Dan Lemon

Shabbat shalom and chag sameach. This shabbat is the last day of Pesach, and let us not "pass over" it too quickly! Whenever a yom-tov and shabbat coincide, we have a special Torah ready instead pf the usual weekly parshah, relevant to the holiday in question. Passover is one of the three "pilgrimage" holidays.

- What is a pilgrimage?

A pilgrimage is a journey to a holy or special place, typically a big trip that requires some planning and preparation.

- Where are we supposed to go on these pilgrimage holidays?

In ancient times, our people went to the holy temple in Jerusalem to celebrate and offer sacrifices. What are the other two pilgrimage holidays?

- Sukkot (in the fall) and Shavuot (in the early summer)

In addition to their religious meaning, each of these three holidays coincides with a harvest season.

- Why is harvest time a good time for a holiday?

- Is there any place you or your family make a pilgrimage to (that is, a very special or meaningful place to which you sometimes travel)?

This week's reading begins with a discussion of tithing. We are told to save a tithe (one-tenth) of our crops, wine, cattle, etc. For the time of the holiday, so that we may have something to eat once we get there, and something to give the priests so that they have food. 

- Is there anything that you save for special times or special occasions?

- What do you save up for?

- Is saving a difficult thing to do? Do you think it's difficult for others?

- Does one-tenth strike you as a good amount to save?

The Torah reading then reminds us that, every seven years, we're supposed to forgive any debts and free any servants we have. This was a revolutionary practice in ancient times when having slaves was not uncommon. The Torah emphasizes that we should look out for those in need and be generous with them. In fact, the Torah says "there will never cease to be needy people". 

- What do you think of the rule about forgiving debts every seven years? Shouldn't everyone have to repay money they have borrowed?

- Do you agree with the Torah that there will always be people in need? Why?

The Torah reading then goes on to describe the three holidays so let's talk about Passover a bit more. If you were able to attend a seder this year, you'll recall that the whole evening starts with asking questions. Because this is a holiday of questions and answers, here are a few more:

- Do you have any questions about the holiday, the seder, or any questions about our history and about being Jewish that have not already been answered?

- If you attended a seder this year, how was it different from last year or the year before?

- What do you like most about this holiday? What do you like least?

- Is there anything you would change about how we celebrate Passover?

Passover is a holiday about freedom and the hope of being free.

- Why is freedom important? Wouldn't it be easier for everybody if somebody else just told us where to go, what to do, and how to behave?

- Does freedom mean we can do whatever we want whenever we want?

- Is having freedom easy or hard?

- Is there something you wish you were free to do that you're not free to do?

- Are there ways we can help people in the world who are not free?

With the last taste of matzah still in our mouths and the work of freedom way ahead of us, I hope you had a good celebration an are will soon be saving up some energy, appetite, and joy for the next one.


Wed, December 7 2022 13 Kislev 5783