Current Newsletter
for the week of:
April 18th, 2018


Today is the 3rd day of the Hebrew month of Iyar, 5778.  It is the 18th day of the omer, as we continue to count our way from Pesach to Shavuot, from slavery in Egypt to Revelation at Mt. Sinai.  

Today Israel marks Yom haZikaron, Memorial Day for those who have fallen in defense of the State.

And tomorrow is Yom haAtzmaut/Israel Independence Day.  Seventy years ago, in 1948, the modern State of Israel came into being.

Shabbat on St Croix this week begins at 6:18 pm.

A summary of this week's Torah portion is found below.


B'kitzur (in short), our schedule for the coming weeks: 

* Today, Wednesday April 18 (and next Wednesday), 10:00-11:30 am at The Bistro in Gallows Bay - Rabbi's "office hours."  Drop by!

* Friday April 20, 6:15 at the Temple - Israeli Shabbat dinner and Celebration of Yom ha'Atzmaut/Israel Independence Day.  Tell Rabbi you're coming!  Details below.

* Saturday April 28, 6:15 at Temple - Dinner, Havdalah and Ritual Farewell to Rabbi Marna.  Details below.


This Friday evening, April 20, beginning at 6:15 at the Temple, we will enjoy an Israeli falafel 

Shabbat dinner as we mark Yom ha'Atzmaut/Israel Independence Day, the 70th anniversary of the establishment of the State of Israel.  

During dinner, we will discuss: What Do We Mean When We Talk about Israel? 
(Hint: there are no fewer than 4 answers to this question!) 

*If you haven't already, please tell Rabbi you plan to come no later than TODAY so we can have enough falafel for all!*


Saturday evening April 28 at 6:15 pm at the Temple:

We'll begin with an organized potluck dinner; please contact Leslie (340-513-1011) to discuss what you you can bring.  When there are three stars in the sky, we will move into Havdalah, bidding farewell to Shabbat, as Rabbi Marna and the STX Jewish Community reflect on our six years together, mark the end of our professional relationship, and wish each other the best as we go forward into our respective futures.


This week's Torah portion is a double portion: Tazria-Metzora, Leviticus 12:1-15:33.

God tells Moses that a woman who gives birth to a son shall be ritually impure for 33 days, and a woman who gives birth to a daughter shall be ritually impure for 66 days.  During this time, she is not to come into contact with anything or any place that is holy.  When the period of ritual impurity is over, the woman is instructed to bring an offering to the Tabernacle, where the priest will declare her ritually pure.
Moses and Aaron are instructed in the diagnosis of tzara'at --- an ailment which could affect human skin or clothing, rendering a person or garment ritually impure.  Rashes, discolorations, and patches of the skin and clothes are examined by the priest who will determine the existence of this affliction.  In cases of doubt, he is authorized to isolate the individual or article in question for a period of seven days in order to observe the progression of the ailment.  At the end of such a period, the priest must pronounce the person ritually pure (tahor) or impure (metzora).
A garment which is found to be ritually impure is to be burned. 
A person who has been declared a metzora must tear his [/her] clothes, let his [/her] head covering shield his [/her] upper face (as far as his [/her] lip), and call out, "Tameh [Ritually impure]!  Tameh!  Such a person shall be tameh as long as the ailment persists,and must live outside the camp.
When it is reported to the priest that the metzora is healed, the priest must go outside the camp to make an examination.  To render the person ritually pure again, the priest shall make an offering and the individual shall shave off all hair, bathe, and wash all garments.  After a seven-day waiting period, the priest shall make a second offering at the Tabernacle's entrance.  Then the person is again ritually pure.
An alternate sacrifice is prescribed for a poor woman after childbirth or for a poor person being cleansed after tzara'at.

God instructs Moses in the purification ritual for a leper who has been declared clean.  Two clean birds are to be brought to the priest.  One is ritually sacrificed;  the other is set free in open country.  After a week, the person to be purified shaves off all hair and bathes, then brings a guilt offering and a sin offering.  A rich person brings a large animal to be sacrificed; a poor person, a small one.  The procedure is explained in detail.
The portion next deals with houses which appear to be affected by a plague.  If, upon examination, it is determined that the house has a malignant eruption, the stones are replaced and the walls scraped and replastered.  If the eruption does not reappear, the house is declared clean.  A purification ceremony includes the sacrifice of a bird.  If the plague does reappear, the house is torn down.
Metzora concludes with a description of ritual impurity resulting from discharges from the sex organs of both men and women.

[Adapted from Teaching Torah: A Treasury of Insights and Activities, by Sorel Goldberg Loeb and Barbara Binder Kadden]  

Rabbi Marna Sapsowitz