When is it appropriate to not believe in Hashem?

Parshas B’Har opens with the laws of sh’mitah, including Hashem’s promise to provide for the Jewish people throughout the year when their fields are left fallow. The Torah then suddenly shifts to discuss the obligation to support a fellow Jew in financial need. What is the connection between these two topics, sh’mitah and charity? Or, to quote from Rashi’s opening comment on the parshah: “Mah inyan sh’mitah eitzel Har Sinai?”

It’s a story of divergence,
and it ends with a cliffhanger.

Every year on Yom Kippur, two identical goats were brought to the Beis HaMikdash and lots were drawn to determine which would be “for Hashem” (a special korban) and which would be “for Azazel” (pushed off a cliff). Which animal was considered the lucky winner of this lottery?

What is the “right” way to perform mitzvos?

Parshas Emor lists the qualifications and regulations necessary for a kohen to serve in the Beis HaMikdash. One requirement is that a kohen must perform the avodah, the Temple service, with his right hand (Z’vachim 24a-b). This preference may not seem special, as we are familiar with the general concept of emphasizing the right side as we perform mitzvos. Even outside the context of the Beis HaMikdash, Jewish people of all tribes are supposed to use their right hands when saying Sh’ma (Orach Chayim 61:5), reciting Kiddush (ibid. 183:4), and holding food while making a blessing (ibid. 206:4), among many other examples.

Parshas K’doshim

It is always important to reinforce our commitment to the journey of faith. There is no greater act of emunah than living a spiritual, holistic life in an often chaotic, fragmented world. As we read Parshas K’doshim, the words “K’doshim tihyu” (You shall be holy) ring in our ears. This is not a call to be transcendent, angelic beings, lofty and perfect, completely beyond the struggle innate to the human condition. This is not permission to deny our humanity and restrict our sense of self. This is a calling to be human, to be the ultimate human, to bring transcendence and spirituality into this world. We don’t aim to escape this world; we aim to transform it. K’dushah is not transcendence or escapism; it is the meeting between the transcendent and the imminent. This is the journey of faith, where each individual must embark on a quest for internal and objective truth, where we must leave the comfort of the known and travel towards the infinite, towards the future we know we are destined for, towards our own personal and collective purpose. There are five stages in this journey of faith: