The following is an edited version of an article that appeared on this site in 2013.
Candle lighting this week is at 7:34 PM in Brooklyn, New York. Candle lighting time is 18 minutes before sunset, which marks the start of Shabbat. To find the local candle lighting time in your location you can visit Chabad.org, which has a section of their site for this purpose. Another good web site is Aish.com. One of the numerous excellent articles on Aish.com is an article about human rights in Iran. The article focuses on Manda Zand-Ervin and Banafsheh Zand, a mother and daughter who have been campaigning for human rights in Iran since they fled in 1979. Most other Islamic countries that have revolted against secular authoritarian regimes in favour of Islamic authoritarianism instead. Iran is a nation that has been an Islamic state since 1979.Unlike every other Muslim country, the unrest there has been a push towards western freedoms. Sadly, support from the outside world has been almost nonexistent.
Chabad.org has an article in which Yvette Miller reminisces about her grandmother, and winding road from her native Austria to war time London and finally to the United States. Such personal histories are an irreplaceable part of the official histories that are learned in school. Yvette Miller treats the life of her grandmother as a rare and unique volume in the history of a people. In reality, everyone we meet is a book that is being written. If we as Jews are commanded to walk humbly before G-d, realising that we are indeed living in a vast library should make the task easier.
This week’s parsha has, among other things a list of the holidays in the order in which they occur, aside from Purim and Chanukah, which are related to events which occurred well after the time frame of the Five Books of Moses.
The parsha also deals with laws pertaining to the ritual purity of the priests, and mentions some death penalty offenses.
It should be noted that although the death penalty exists for such things as blasphemy, it was almost impossible to meet the conditions under which such a penalty could be applied,. Factors that range from the warnings needed before an offense is actually committed, to the precision with which witnesses must corroborate an account of an offense make most death penalties a largely theoretical possibility. When a death penalty is mentioned for offenses such as blasphemy and sabbath violations, it really describes the damage to the soul created by such offenses, despite mention of the largely theoretical possibility of execution.
The parsha also mentions the menorah in the Temple, which has seven branches, rather than the eight branched menorahs that we use during Hanukkah. In Jewish teachings, it is pointed out
that just as the menorah has seven lights, so too does the face have two eyes, two ears, two nostrils and a mouth. This menorah is likewise supposed to be illuminated with a divine light and maintained by its owner. It is clear that we can still derive insights and spiritual growth from the commandments even if the Temple in which many of these commandments is temporarily not standing.
May we soon see the rebuilding of our Bet HaMikdash, and the resumption of all the commandments associated with its existence.