Parshat Emor: The significance of special times

Lilly Warren
Lilly Warren (Julie Warren)

By Lilly Warren

In Emor, it talks about the Jewish holidays and how they are all different from each other. The holidays are so special because you can spend time with your family, have fun and just take a break. Even though not everyone celebrates holidays, everyone can still understand the idea of putting time aside in a special way. For me, I put time aside for my birthday, which is a day that’s not like any other day.

In Judaism, time is considered very important. Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel mentioned in his book “The Sabbath” that time is very special. During creation, instead of starting with marking a place as holy, God started with making a certain time holy: Shabbat. This was the first time the word “holy” had been used in the Bible.

On each holiday this week’s Torah portion gives us different things to do to mark the time as holy. It says that Shabbat is a day of rest, when you should do no work. This helps us realize that we all deserve breaks sometimes to re-energize ourselves. Shabbat gives us the opportunity to reset ourselves and prepare for the next week, just like my birthday is a day for me to relax and to look forward to the next year. Another holiday mentioned in my Torah portion is Passover, or as the Torah calls it, Chag Hamatzot, the holiday of matzah. On Passover, we eat different foods, such as matzah, maror and matzah ball soup. While eating those foods, we remember when we were still slaves in Egypt. This also reminds me of my birthday because during my birthday I eat my favorite foods, which I don’t get to eat all the time. When we eat different foods, it reminds us about our past and also helps us look toward the future.

These are just two examples of the many holidays in the Torah portion. In addition to helping us have time to reset and remember our past, the holidays also help us find gratitude. I feel very grateful because I am free and get to live a good life, a good life that not a lot of Jews got to live at different times in history and that not a lot of people get to live now. When we set aside special time we can really understand how grateful we should be for where we are today.

Lilly Warren is a student at Krieger Schechter Day School.

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