We begin the cycle again. Last weekend we celebrated Simchat Torah and read the final chapters of Deuteronomy with special ceremony. We then proceeded to read the first chapter of Genesis, as a way of saying that the Torah never ends, but every ending includes with it a new beginning.
The thrust of the chapter is the expectation of holiness in our dealings with our fellow man. For it is through our relationships with our fellow human beings, through acts of compassion and charity, that we can indeed become holy
G-d does not treat gossip lightly. As men and women, created in His image, we are commanded to love our neighbor as ourselves and to treat everyone with respect. This includes not maligning them, even in a light, gossipy way.
The first verse in chapter 40 provides us with the date that the Tabernacle was completed — the first day of the first month, or the first of Nissan. Nissan is the month which begins the Biblical count of months and it falls at this time of year. It is also known as the month of the spring (Deuteronomy 16:1). It is not the month of Rosh HaShana
This week we begin the Book of Exodus. The first portion is one of transformation – the children of Israel, the family of Jacob, become the “Hebrews” and the Children of Israel, with a national focus.
This week’s portion begins the story of Joseph, beginning with Genesis chapter 37. We learn that Jacob favors Joseph and buys him a striped coat, which results in the brothers’ terrible jealousy of him.
The Day of Atonement is, indeed, the holiest day of the year. The most important element of the holiday, however, is the atonement connected with it. “You shall be clean before the Lord from all your sins.” And again at the end of the section: “And this shall be a statute forever for you, that atonement may be made for the people of Israel once in the year because of all their sins.” (verse 34)