In just one week, many of us will find ourselves sitting around a seder table reading from our respective haggadot. In one way or another, we will all be fulfilling our obligation to telling the Passover story. At the very beginning of a traditional Haggadah we are told "All that extend the Exodus story are praiseworthy--Harei zeh meshubach." Furthermore, the Shulchan Aruch (15th c. law code) tells us that we should speak about it all night – "until sleep overtakes us" (OC 481:2). I don't know about you, but there is no way for it to take me all night to read through my haggadah. So what is really intended by this instruction?
I think the answer comes later in the haggadah, when we say, "In every generation each of us must see ourselves as if we have personally gone out of Egypt." We are called to extend the story to our time, to our lives. We are not separate from this retelling. The Sefat Emet explains that when the Torah says, "You shall observe the Feast of Unleavened Bread, for on this very day (be'etsem hayom) I brought you out of mitzrayim," what it really means is be'atsmo (from within yourself) you came out of a narrow place. What story is uniquely yours to tell this year, be'atsmo, from your own experience?
In truth, the Haggadah is, was, and will be a still life, an imperfect prompt for our own searching. And the rabbis knew this to be true. Take for example the fact that in the Torah women are central to the Exodus story. From the midwives who save the Hebrew babies to the prophet Miriam and her wandering well. And yet women are absent from the Haggadah. We learn in the Talmud, Rav Avira teaches, "In the merit of righteous women that were in that generation, the Jewish people were redeemed from Egypt." While women may be absent from the pages of our haggadah, here is Rav Avira giving full credit to women for the redemption of the entire Jewish people of that generation. What was it that they did that merited God's saving hand in Egypt?
Get a load of this midrash, as retold by Rabbi Avi Strausberg. "Rav Avira explains in the continuation of that passage that at that time, the men, backs broken from oppressive labor, would come home defeated and tired. One can imagine that in situations of such desperation, the focus would be on surviving in the now rather than looking to producing future generations. But, the women were able to look toward the future. They'd go to the river and come away with pots filled with water and fish. They'd bathe their husbands, rub them with oils, feed them the fish and ultimately through their loving, rejuvenating actions, these couples would come to have sex, and the women would become pregnant. Once pregnant, these strong women would continue to take matters into their own hands. When it came time to give birth, they would give birth under the apple tree, and the Holy One would join them, sending a midwife to care for the newborn. These babies were resilient like their parents. When the Egyptians would come for them, a miracle would occur, the earth would absorb them, holding them safe until the threat had passed. They would then emerge from the ground, like grass of the field. As they grew, they would return home, like flocks of sheep, healthy, numerous and whole.”
Wow, now that’s a story! While the editors of the haggadah may not have seen fit to include these stories of feminist resilience, it is on us to give these women, and ourselves, the proper place in the Passover story. To tell the story of our going out from a narrow place all night, until sleep overtakes us.
As you prepare for Passover, may you search out not only your chametz, but also your personal Exodus story, which is praiseworthy to tell.
Rabbi Ari Lev
This Shabbat is Shabbat HaChodesh, marking the new moon of Nissan and announcing the Passover is approaching. Tomorrow morning Jews around the world, including us right here in West Philly, will be singing a bonus set of songs known as Hallel. Hallel, comprising Psalms 113-118, is a collection of psalms of celebration, recited on joyous occasions including Rosh Hodesh, Passover, Shavuot, Sukkot, and Hanukkah. It is also included in the Passover seder, where it is divided into two parts that surround the meal. Notably for tomorrow, on Rosh Hodesh and the last six days of Passover, a partial "Hatzi Hallel" is recited omitting the first half of psalm 115 and psalm 116.
The connection between Hallel and Passover is not incidental. For starters, we recite Hallel on Passover and at Seder. And Psalm 114 begins by declaring, "B'zeit yisrael...When Israel went out from Egypt." But it goes deeper than that. The psalms of Hallel draw on the theme of exodus as a metaphor for celebratory moments, both moments of leaving behind oppression and also moments of overcoming personal or communal struggle. And verses from these psalms, like Ozi v'Zimrat Yah, also appear liturgically in key moments like the Song at the Sea. Through spirited song, Hallel invites us to imagine a world of freedom and renewal.
In just two weeks we will read in the Haggadah that each of us is obligated to see ourselves as if we personally went out from a narrow place. This is not just a story we remember, but a sacred practice we embody. And tomorrow is our warm up.
Tomorrow when we recite Hallel, I will invite everyone to rise in body or spirit. And while this may seem incidental, it speaks to how the rabbis understood the power of these psalms.
"The Sages taught: Who initially recited Hallel?
Rabbi Eliezer says: Moses and the Jewish people recited it when they stood by the sea...
Rabbi Yehuda says: Joshua and the Jewish people recited it when they defeated the kings of Canaan who stood against them...
Rabbi Yosi HaGelili says: Mordecai and Esther recited it when the wicked Haman stood against them..." (B.T. Pesachim 117a)
The list goes on and on.
As I have learned from my preschooler, according to the rabbis, Hallel is about being an upstander. The Talmud continues, "And the Rabbis say that Hallel was not established for any specific event, but the Prophets among them instituted that the Jewish people should recite it on every appropriate occasion, and for every trouble, may it not come upon them. When they are redeemed, they recite it over their redemption."
Hallel is both an affirmation of the world as it is and the world as it could be. It calls us to remember the moments when our people took a stand. And it invites us to do the same in our time. Hallel is an extra boost of faith and joy that propels us to believe that the renewal of the new moon ushers in the renewal in our own lives.
כן יהי רצון
May it be so.
Rabbi Ari Lev
This week, the week our community buried the Rabbi Emet Tauber, z"l, is also the week when Aaron learns of the death of his sons Nadav and Avihu. The words that follow have been taught to me as the most important words in all of Torah. "Vayidom Aharon, And Aaron was silent/stilled" (Lev 10:3). These words echoed for me all week. In the moments after Emet died, I was sitting with his mom and sister. Naomi, his mom, said "I just feel silence and absence." Vayidom Naomi. And Naomi was silent. Our initial responses to grief and loss are infinitely varied. And yet, our tradition records, that in the case of tragic loss, there is an ineffable void.
What followed in the hours and days that followed was utterly stunning. Out of that void, there was so much life. And I found myself thanking Emet, for he once again reminded me that God is trans. I'm not quite a full believer in the capital R, Reconstructionist school of Mordechai Kaplan, God as the force that makes for salvation. But I do believe that there is a presence, a force, an experience beyond language. I believe in the God who appeared to Moses at the burning bush, and when pushed to identify, says: "אֶהְיֶה אֲשֶׁר אֶהְיֶה / I will be what I will be, I will become what I will become." God is force of transformation in our lives. I believe in the God of transcendence who hovered over the waters during the first days of creation, as it says: "Ve-ru'ach elohim merachefet al pnei ha-mayim – ורוּחַ אֱלוֹהִים מרחפת על פני המים. And the Divine Spirit hovered above the waters" (Gen 1:2). And I believe in the God of transition, the God who appeared to Moses, Miriam, and the Israelites as they crossed the sea on dry land. As we sing in Mi chamocha, "Zeh eli, That is my God" (Ex 15:11).
At his funeral I shared that Emet was Queer with a capital Q. He was also Trans with a capital T. Over the past four months he taught so many of us about how to face the greatest transition of all, with courage, honesty, and love, as he crossed over from this world to the beyond. For those who were not able to be at the funeral, here are some of the words that were shared in his honor.
I will be in New York for Shabbat leading services at a convening for trans Jews, carrying the glittery sparks of Emet's Torah forward.
Wishing you all a Shabbat Shalom,
Rabbi Ari Lev
As we emerge from the frenzy and fun of Purim, we find ourselves back in the world of Leviticus. I have often joked that the book of Leviticus is a story of blood and guts by way of animal sacrifice. Thanks to Aimee Ando's recent dvar Torah at a KT board meeting, I now want to retitle the book "SALT FAT ACID HEAT", an ode to food writer and celebrity chef Samin Nosrat.
This week's parsha, Tzav, begins with a full description of the different kinds of offerings. By way of review, we have the burnt offering, the grain offering, the purification offering, the guilt offering, the well-being offering, the gratitude offering, the votive, and the freewill offering. Each offering with its own procedures and specifications. Each with its own unique combination of salt, fat, acid, and heat. I can almost hear Samin Nosrat's instructions that each vegetable needs to be roasted on its own. Her attention to the quality and coarseness of the salt and the oil. Echoed by the words of Torah, detailing handfuls of choice flour and oil.
Aimee wrote, "My gut reaction (no pun intended) to Leviticus is typically distant. What do these ancient instructions have to do with modern times? However, this week I found myself leaning into the words as a multi-sensory experience, nearly feeling the heat from the fire, nostrils full of the smoke of the burnt offering and 'the pleasing odor to the Lord.'"
Michael Pollan writes about this 'רֵ֧יחַ נִיחֹ֛חַ pleasing odor' in his book Cooked, "The fragrant column of smoke, symbolizing the link between heaven and earth, is only the conceivable medium of conveyance, and also communication, between humans and their gods. So to say this aroma is divine is more than an empty expression" (39).
I'm not sure if the rabbis were also foodies, but I do know that they understood that this holy barbecue was not unique to temple practice. They too preached the Torah of SALT FAT ACID HEAT.
We learn in the Talmud, "When the Temple is standing, the altar atones for a person; now it is a person's table that atones for them" (B.T. Hagigah 27a).
About this, Aimee concludes, "There is much commentary that relates to all of these manners of sacrifice as pleasing to God primarily because God set forth a series of commandments and God's people carried out God's will. My read may be off, but I wonder if it is something more. I cannot help but wonder if those who spent time in those ancient, figurative open-air kitchens - often the women - up until now, carefully attending to every detail of preparation no matter the labor or time needed, interpreted the opening of Leviticus as I did this week - as a cry from God to offer our earthly ingredients as if preparing and sending up the finest meal possible with love, intention, and integrity. God knows the transformative and healing experience of sharing food."
Wherever you find yourself this Shabbat, at your table or someone else's, may you know that the meals you share on shabbat are in and of themselves a sacred offering, drawing us closer to each other and to Holiness in our lives.
Rabbi Ari Lev
Purim is by nature destabilizing. Costumes and coming out and the idea that nothing is as it seems. But add to it the commandment to drink and that just feels outright dangerous. In practically every chapter of the Megillah, someone is imbibing heavily at a drinking party. And the scroll concludes with Mordecai's instruction to the entire Jewish people to celebrate these days as "yemei mishteh v'simchah, days of drinking and rejoicing" (Esther 9:22).
So let's start with the question, how drunk is one really supposed to get?
We learn in the Talmud:
"Rava said: It is one's duty levasumei, to make oneself fragrant [with wine] on Purim until one cannot tell the difference between 'arur Haman' (cursed be Haman) and 'barukh Mordekhai' (blessed be Mordecai)" (Megillah 7b).
But what degree of drunkenness is meant by this? The word levasumei is from the same root as besamim (fragrant spices, like those that are smelled during Havdalah). Minimally, one should "be fragrant" - drink enough that others can smell it on your breath. And maximally, one should get sloshed, so to speak.
And if this makes you at all uncomfortable, you are in good company.
The rabbis are nervous too and tell this tale of caution:
Rabbah and Rabbi Zeira got together for a Purim Seudah (the feast on the afternoon of Purim). They got very drunk, and Rabbah got up and cut R. Zeira's throat (literally, Rabbah butchered him). The next day, Rabbah prayed on R. Zeira's behalf and brought him back to life. A year later, Rabbah asked, "Would you like to have a Purim Seudah with me again this year?" R. Zeira replied, "One cannot count on a miracle every time" (Megillah 7b).
Purim is dangerous, and the rabbis knew it. Getting dressed up, getting drunk, turning things upside down, insisting that nothing is as it seems, blurring boundaries - these are all best done with care and caution. Not only because of the threat of physical injury or death, but also emotional and spiritual safety. I have been to many Purim parties where I felt uncomfortable. Humor is funny until it's not.
If Yom Kippur - is Yom K'Purim - the day that is like Purim, then Purim is also somehow like Yom Kippur. It is its calendrical corollary, its spiritual underbelly. Much like fasting on Yom Kippur, the purpose is not the consumption of alcohol in and of itself. So if you are sober or on medication, pregnant or nursing, or for any other reason do not drink, please know drinking is only one medium for attaining a spiritual state of looseness where we can see the ironic, sometimes painful, and true interconnectedness of all things.
Purim is dangerous, but it is a portal into magical realism. And drinking is only one of the four mitzvot of Purim. The full verse quoted above from the Megillah reads, "They are to observe these as days of feasting and gladness, and for sending delicacies to one another, and giving gifts to the poor" (Esther 9:22).
Accordingly, we are instructed to hear the Megillah, give goodie bags to our friends and give tzedakah. Whether or not you plan to attend the Purim Party Fundraiser tomorrow night, I want to personally invite you to participate in the Purim mitzvah of matanot l'evyonim/giving gifts to those in need - to give as generously as you are able to La Familia Centeno-Delgado. We have raised $43,000. We need to raise $8,000 more by Purim.
This Purim, may we hearken to the wisdom of both Rava and Rabbah. May we have the courage to soften and sparkle, to let our hidden light shine. And may we have the wisdom to do so in such a way that does no harm to ourselves or others.
Rabbi Ari Lev
There is a folk legend that King Solomon once posed the following riddle: "What can you say to a happy person to make them sad, that will also make a sad person happy?"
King Solomon took a gold ring from his pocket upon which were engraved three Hebrew letters: גז"י – Gimel, Zayin, Yod. They stand for 'גם זה יעבור gam zeh ya'avor,' this too, shall pass.
The primary themes of Purim are a corollary to King Solomon's teaching: ונהפוך הוא / V'nahafoch hu. What is true in one moment can turn upside down. The Megillah is replete with examples. Queen Esther, who first appears as a closeted Jew, ends up saving the Jewish people by standing up to King Ahashverosh. Haman's evil plot to wipe out all the Jews of Shushan leads to his own demise. And the Jews of Shushan, once powerless subjects, become powerful actors, able to control their own destiny.
And so we will read in Esther 9:1:
"...When the king's command and decree were to be executed, the very day on which the enemies of the Jews had expected to get them in their power, the opposite happened [v’nahafoch hu], and the Jews got their enemies in their power."
With a heaping helping of heavy handedness (and an overindulgence in revenge), the Megillah reminds us just how topsy-turvy the world can be. In the words of my teacher Rabbi Benay Lappe, all stories ultimately and inevitably crash. V'nahafoch hu. Purim is a celebration of subversion, inversion, and transformation.
So much so, that the rabbis of the Mishnah took the time to warn against thinking v'nahafoch hu applies to reading the Megillah backwards, a practice they ruled does not fulfill one's obligation on Purim (Megillah 2:1). In classic Hasidic fashion, the Ba'al Shem Tov turned the Sages' caution inward by adding, "one who reads the Megillah backwards" is a person who only reads it in retrospect and neglects to pay attention to how its spirit is alive in their own day.
As the seasons change and the days grow longer, we seek out levity and instability, allowing the brittle interface of reality to loosen its grip on our souls. To remind ourselves that anything is possible, in our selves and in our world. On this Rosh Hodesh Adar II, may the promises of the rabbis come true and may the sliver of this new moon increase joy in your life.
Hodesh Tov and Shabbat Shalom,
Rabbi Ari Lev
Every year as we read of the building of the mishkan in all its ornate details, I think to myself, Beztalel (the artist of the Torah) must really have been a flaming gay man. Who else would have such attention to color, fabric, and gemstone?! As someone who does not feel gifted with interior design skills, I am in awe of the Torah's artistry. This week, I am feeling so grateful to be part of a community where I can openly share this totally ridiculous queer reading of Torah.
It is my sense that what binds Kol Tzedek together as a community is the desire for each of us to be wholly ourselves. This is why I start every service with what has become somewhat of a creed, that you are welcome here just as you are. While this seems obvious on so many levels, it is hardly the normative experience of religious spaces and religious movements.
I am grateful that for so many of us, Kol Tzedek is a refuge; a place to reimagine family; a place to truly be our full selves; a place to connect to something beyond ourselves. We are healing from the Judaism of our childhood or the religion of our childhood. In particular, we are healing from homophobic and transphobic sentiments of our childhood denominations.
For all of these reasons and more, it was painful to witness this week when the General Conference of the United Methodist Church voted against LGBTQ inclusion, maintaining that "Homosexuality is incompatible with Christianity." This vote was the culmination of years of exclusion and hurt, and decades of organizing momentum trying to make the church's insides match its outsides.
I have spoke with Pastor John and members of Calvary United Methodist. They are heartbroken and grieving. The future of the denomination, the building, and the community is uncertain. This is a very tender moment for our neighbors and spiritual housemates.
Certainly this vote did not happen in isolation. It is part of the right-wing backlash that is emboldened by our current administration. It is also helpful to understand that the Methodist church is a global denomination with more than 12 million members. So this is not necessarily a barometer of US sentiments. Having said that, it is painful to even be adjacent to the indignity of religious voices. I can't imagine what it feels like to be inside of it. And I can imagine that for some of you and your family members, this touches you personally.
As the United Methodist Church integrates this new reality, I have had many instincts and responses. I share this article to encourage us to be helpful and not harmful allies to Calvary United Methodist. Knowing that there is not unanimous queer support in all Jewish communities and denominations, I invite us to send love to them and ourselves. To know that we are all called to build sanctuaries full of flamboyant beauty, justice, and love.
In the words of Adrienne Rich,
I came to explore the wreck.
The words are purposes.
The words are maps.
I came to see the damage that was done
and the treasures that prevail.
Rabbi Ari Lev
In this week's parsha, we get the famous story of Moses ascending Mt. Sinai carrying two stone tablets upon which the Holy One uses a finger (really! check out Ex. 31:18) to inscribe the Ten Commandments. Moses returns down the mountain only to find the people have built a golden calf. Enraged, and probably feeling betrayed, he smashes the tablets and returns up the mountain to plead forgiveness with the Holy One. While on the mountain a second time, Moses has a heart to heart with the Holy One.
The text of Exodus 34:6 reads:
וַיַּֽעֲבֹ֨ר יְהֹוָ֥ה | עַל־פָּנָיו
And God passed before his face...
As if the rabbis pressed pause on this scene and zoomed in close on their smartphones, they ask, what was it that Moses saw when the Holy One passed by? Was it a glowing aura? A long white beard? What's God's profile pic?
In one midrash, the rabbis conclude that Moses saw the back of God's head. Not only that, but he saw the knot of the tefillin shel rosh, the leather straps of God's tefillin. Wait, you might say, God prays? God wears tefillin? Isn't God the one we call Shomea Tefillah, the one who hears our prayers? And if the Shema, which asserts the oneness of the Divine, is written inside of our tefillin, then what is written in God's tefillin?
The Talmud teaches, "These tefillin [that belong to] the Master of the Universe, what is written in them? He said to him, And who is like you Israel? A singular nation on the earth (Divrei HaYamim 1, 17:21)...God said to Israel: You have made Me a singular entity in the world and I will make you a singular entity in the world. You have made Me a singular entity in the world as it says, Hear, Israel, the Lord is our God the Lord is One (Devarim 6:4). And I will make you a singular entity in the world, as it says, And who is like you Israel? A singular nation on the earth (Berakhot 6a)."
Just as the tefillin that human beings wear pray for Divine unity, so too the Holy One's tefillin prays for our earthly unity. Just as we long to feel connected to something beyond ourselves, the Source of All Life longs for us to feel connected to each other.
In the words of Marcia Falk,
"Hear, O Israel--
The divine abounds everywhere
and dwells in everything;
the many are One."
Ken Yehi Ratzon. May it be so.
Rabbi Ari Lev
This week's parsha takes us deep into the details of the mishkan, the portable sacred dwelling place that the Israelites built in the desert. And amidst the details of the priestly garments and building materials, pure gold, crimson yarn, and fine linens, The Holy Blessed One reminds us what it's all for:
וְשָׁ֣כַנְתִּ֔י בְּת֖וֹךְ בְּנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֑ל
"I will dwell among the children of Israel" (Ex 30:45).
The message of this week's parsha, which echoes the message of last week's parsha, which essentially is the core Jewish message embodied in the Shema prayer, is that we are all interconnected and we need to live in a way that embodies that truth. That message, in biblical terms, describes the presence of the divine dwelling among and between us.
This was on my mind earlier this week when I got a phone call from NPR. It was very unexpected. I was about to teach a class on prayer and they just had a quick request: Would I be willing to appear on air in the morning to comment on the recent political controversy with Ilhan Omar's tweets? And then the producer continued, more specifically, that they wanted to invite another "more centrist" rabbi onto the show so that we could publicly debate our views. It did not take long for me to realize this was not a good idea. Not because there isn't nuance and difference of opinion in the Jewish world. And not because I don't believe in giving voice to that nuance and finding ways to constructively disagree, even in public. For me, this didn't feel like a good idea because I felt it was playing directly into the strategy of the right. It is my personal sense that the alt-right is trying to divide us from each other, target women of color, and define public discourse on antisemitism. In this case, Ilhan Omar was criticizing the influence of AIPAC. Regardless of our views on Israel, I imagine we are all able to see the negative impact of lobbyists in government and her inherent right to voice criticism as free speech. This is very scary to me, because it censors free speech and uses the rhetoric of antisemitism as a tool to silence women of color in leadership. Censorship is so deep and dangerous, that even as I write this email I fear I may be censoring myself, so worried about how you will interpret it.
The request from NPR also scared me because pitting two rabbis against one another in public debate on this most controversial issue directly does the work of antisemitism for the right, and has us fighting against each other as opposed to actually fighting the forces of true antisemitism in our world. None of this, says my inner compass, would invite holiness into our midst.
In the wake of Pittsburgh and Charlottesville, we are raw. We know in our bones that antisemitism is real and dangerous. The call from the producer at NPR was so startling, because it pointed to a wound in the Jewish psyche which is becoming a deep chasm in the Jewish community. How do we respond to white supremacy with dignity and integrity? What do we need to do to understand the source of real antisemitism? It is my sense that the right wing propaganda machines are using media attacks and political smear campaigns, largely targeting people of color (Linda Sarsour, Marc Lamont Hill, Angela Davis, and now Ilhan Omar), to pit us against each other and to divide us from our natural allies. And as a result, we undermine each other's dignity and ultimately jeopardize each other's safety. Put in Kabbalistic terms, sending the Shekhina, the indwelling presence of the Divine, into exile.
You may not agree with me about any of this. That is welcome. Kol Tzedek is still your community. I welcome disagreement, feedback, and respectful debate in our community. I share all of this with you, hoping we as a community can deepen our capacity for real connection. In the weeks and months to come, I invite you to pay attention to this with me so that we can together develop our collective consciousness and find ways to speak with compassion, clarity, and integrity about antisemitism, holiness, and the chasm between.
Rabbi Ari Lev
Last shabbat we blessed the coming of the new moon of Adar. I shared that this year we are welcoming Adar 1, because it is a Jewish leap year. Unlike the Gregorian calendar which adds a day to the end of February, the Jewish calendar doubles an entire month. This is what allows us to follow the lunar cycles and also stay in rhythm with the solar seasons such that Passover will always be in the spring time. However, when I shared this, I misspoke and said that Jewish leap years happen every four years. That, in fact, is not true. That is when Gregorian leap years happen. The Jewish calendar follows a much more idiosyncratic (or perhaps natural) rhythm. Here is what I learned this week, with huge gratitude to Rachel and Nati Katz Passow for being my teachers.
In the days before the calendar was codified (and climate change was happening), the rabbis would go out into the fields at the end of the month of Shvat (say, around last week) to inspect the barley. According to the biblical calendar, Passover is a barley harvest and so the spring festival must be timed with the crop. If the barley looked like it would be ready six weeks later, it wasn't a leap year. And if it needed more time, it was a leap year. (This is the ancient Hebrew groundhog day!) In this way they were able to align the festivals with both the harvest and the seasons. Put another way, the harvest defined the seasons for them.
In our times, Jewish leap years occur seven out of every 19 years. Which is actually a lot more frequently than Gregorian leap years. Now you might ask, how did they come up with a 19-year cycle. That is hardly a familiar Jewish number. I don't quite know. But somehow, though, the number 19 is at once completely random and naturally attuned. As it turns out, it corresponds to the pattern of the keys on a piano, which are divided into 19 equal temperaments. (You can actually use the spacing of black and white keys to know whether it's a leap year!) Now I am certainly not a music theorist. But while many people call it coincidence, it seems to me there is a resonant echo between the natural world, music, and math that defies logic and alludes to a deeper truth.
In the words of Rami Shapiro, "Nature is God's niggun, a wordless melody of unfolding Life."
But still, how do I know what year it is? The Hebrew Leap Year follows a 19-year cycle. The years of the 19-year cycle that are leap years are: 3, 6, 8, 11, 14, 17, and 19. For the brave of heart, there are amazing mathematical equations that line up with a Hebrew mnemonic (גוחאדז"ט), which you can explore and play with to figure out which year it is. I personally am sticking to Hebcal for this information.
As we begin this first month of Adar, I invite you to marinate in the patient joy it brings as we journey towards the expanse of spring.
Rabbi Ari Lev
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Rabbi Ari Lev Fornari brings Torat Hayyim, a living tradition, to Kol Tzedek Synagogue through thoughts about prayer, justice, and community.