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KD Daily - Plant Nothing for a Year

Today is DAY THIRTY-SIX, which makes FIVE WEEKS and ONE DAY of the Omer.


This week's Torah portion, Behar, gives instructions for the shmitah—the sabbatical year. The Israelites are commanded to make every seventh year "a year of complete rest for the land." They are forbidden to plant crops or tend to their fruit trees. It's a year on pause for the land to take a breath and be replenished.

These months have felt in some way like a sabbatical. Not for us humans—but for the earth. We've witnessed the largest drop in carbon emissions in history. Cities have seen air pollution decrease. And I've watched more than a few videos of animals showing up in places animals aren't usually found. (Though many of these are fake.)

Perhaps this crisis will leave us a little more aware of the earth, more willing to accept our dependence on the delicate balance of nature. It might help us imagine, as a New York Times essay put it, "the new world that will come when this crisis is over, a space that might allow us not only to rethink how we relate to the natural world but to one another." Then we would be a little more like our ancient Torah ancestors, whose lives depended (as ours do) on keeping in balance with God's world.

May this Shabbat be a sabbath of balance and rest.

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Noah


Torah for Today

Rabbi David S. Widzer

Lessons After Lag Ba-Omer

Regular readers of this daily email newsletter will have learned a lot about Lag Ba-Omer this week. We know that it’s the 33rd day of the counting of the Omer, the time period between Passover and Shavuot. We know that one traditional explanation links the day to the Jewish revolt against Rome in the 2nd century CE and its leader, Bar Kochba. Another tradition connects the celebration to the end of a plague (in the same time period) that killed 24,000 students of Rabbi Akiva.

But now we’re on day 36 of the Omer, three days past Lag Ba-Omer. So what comes after Lag Ba-Omer? Well, for one thing, we keep on counting, continuing forward on our journey, day by day. And perhaps we can learn a few lessons for our time from what happened after the other events associated with Lag Ba-Omer.

After the Bar Kochba revolt failed, we know that the Jewish population in the middle of the Land of Israel was dispersed, separated from one another, sent into Diaspora, either in the north of the country or beyond. There was a refocused commitment to Jewish spiritual life in local synagogues and some theological changes that took hold, particularly new thoughts about hoping for the Messiah.

After the plague, we have less concrete information. But one teaching proposes that the plague came about because the 24,000 students of Rabbi Akiva failed to show respect to one another when they disagreed. They valued being right over showing honor to one another’s opinions. Presumably, when the plague stopped, they demonstrated they had learned its lesson by disagreeing agreeably and showing honor and respect to one another.

It remains to be seen if we, as a society, will learn these post-Lag Ba-Omer lessons. Maybe, like after the Bar Kochba revolt, we will spread out after we are released from shelter-in-place orders, and we will refocus our energies in our local congregations, brining new thoughts to our communities. Perhaps, like Rabbi Akiva’s students after their plague, we will be more respectful of one another. (We’re already seeing some of that in the outpouring of support for medical and other essential workers.) And surely, as we do after Day 33 passes, we will keep on counting, continuing forward in our journey, day by day. Let us hope that we have learned these lessons for after Lag Ba-Omer for Day 36 and beyond.


Celebrate Shabbat

*NEW* *LIVE* Tot Shabbat!

Friday, 5/15, 5:00pm

Check your daily email for how to join

Our super-fun Tot Shabbat experience goes virtual! Designed primarily for our friends ages 0-5 and their families, we will do a lot of singing and dancing and have an energizing, comfortable Shabbat experience. All are welcome! (Feel free to invite friends.)

*LIVE* Candle Lighting and Shabbat Blessings

Friday, 5/15, 6:00pm

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Kol Dorot Shabbat Service

Friday, 5/15, 6:30pm (Pre-recorded)

Watch your email for a service link.

This week, a special guest appearance from our Religious School students! The service will be pre-recorded—check Kol Dorot's Facebook Page and your email for a link.

Shabbat Morning Torah Study

Saturday, 5/16, 9:00-10:00am

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*LIVE* Havdallah with Rabbi David and Family

Saturday, 5/16, 8:00pm

Live on Kol Dorot Facebook​​​​​​​

Join us live on Saturday evening for the Havdallah blessings to conclude Shabbat.


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