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"Summertime, and the livin' is easy"

06/09/2022 04:37:13 PM

Jun9

Rabbi Kelly Levy

Even though we haven’t quite reached the summer solstice, with the temperature soaring into the 100’s every day this week, it’s safe to say that summer is officially here! And of course, summer brings a plethora of bugs, outdoor activities, and my favorite: the Book of Numbers.

Just last week, we started this new book of Torah. It is my favorite book because of the amazing stories and narratives the Israelites find themselves experiencing throughout this section of Torah. Honestly, who doesn’t love a talking donkey?!

This week, we read from Parashat Naso. Naso begins with a continuation of last week’s parashah as it describes the various tasks and duties of each Israelite tribe. It goes on to explain the ritual of Sotah, something that is quite complicated and fraught with challenges. But, the part of Naso that I have always found most compelling is the vow of the nazirite.

Torah contains many different vows, promises that we make in order to fulfill our obligations and be the best version of ourselves that we can be. The nazirite vow isn’t too different; those who take this vow typically do so in order to better themselves and perhaps become closer to God.

What sets the nazirite vow apart from others are a multitude of things. For example, a nazirite cannot cut their hair or drink any type of alcohol while fulfilling their vow. They cannot consume fresh grapes and cannot go near a deceased person, including their own family members. Additionally, a nazirite takes this vow for a set amount of time, and once the vow is completed, they can continue on with their life. Finally, what is most compelling to me, a person of any gender is able to take the nazirite vow.

For thousands of years, women and non-binary individuals have been excluded from much of Torah and Jewish tradition. And yet, this particular vow included all people. I find it especially wonderful that we read this passage during the month of June. As we begin our summer festivities and dive into the book of Numbers, I am grateful that we can also celebrate Pride. While Austin likes to keep things weird by celebrating Pride in August (be on the lookout for information regarding Pride Shabbat!), the rest of the world celebrates and elevates the LGBTQIA+ community during this month.

So, just as Torah included all genders in this fascinating and uncharacteristically inclusive vow, let us also remember to include all people in our community. Let’s celebrate the voices of our LGBTQIA+ friends and family, and let’s make sure our congregation continues to be a place that is safe and holy for all.

Tue, December 6 2022 12 Kislev 5783