Rabbi Feingold's D'var Torah

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During this week in January when we remember the life and legacy of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. local clergy are asked to speak on the subject. Therefore, my sermon tomorrow night will be on the topic of “I May Not Get to the Promised Land,” a paraphrase of words used by King in his last speech, the night before he was assassinated in 1968. That night in Memphis, King stated that if he could live in any age, he would “take (his) mental flight by Egypt, through or rather across the Red Sea, through the wilderness on and toward the promised land.” (April 3, 1968) Later in the speech, he intimates that his death his near, prophesying: “I may not get there with you.” By coincidence, we read the beginning of the moment that King wanted to relive by time travel in Torah portion Bo: “That very day Adonai freed the Israelites from the land of Egypt, troop by troop.” (Ex 12:51)

Early in this week’s parasha, we hear the state of mind of the Israelites described as “kotzer ruach.” (Ex. 6:9) A literal translation is “shortness of breath,” which is how Rashi translates it. But “ruach” is both spirit and breath in Hebrew, which is, in and of itself, interesting. Therefore, we also find translations like “shortness of spirit” (Everett Fox), impatience (Nachmanides) and “dispirited” (Michael Walzer). Those who practice meditation, yoga and breathing know that breath and spirit are indeed intertwined and interdependent. Concentrating on breathing is a way to control, focus and calm one’s spirit. When we are short of breath, we are short of energy and perhaps even seriously ill. When we are short of spirit, we are short of passion, hope, and the ability to act. This is the condition Moses and Aaron found the Israelites in when first approaching Pharaoh to free them from bondage. They needed to learn to breathe and realize that they had a life force yet in them--physically and spiritually.

In this week’s parasha, Moses is born -- in frightening times. Pharaoh has decreed that all Hebrew boys are to be thrown into the Nile; thus, Moses’ parents are forced to hide him. Ultimately, Moses is raised by Pharaoh’s daughter, which saves his life. During the last week of 2017, on a visit to Amsterdam, we had a walking tour of Jewish Amsterdam, which dates to the 16th century when Portuguese Jews fled the Inquisition. Our 83 year-old guide had been a hidden child, during the 20th Century’s frightening times. Like Moses, she had to be spirited away and raised by others in order to survive. Ever since the Book of Exodus, our people have been subject again and again to evil decrees and plots to wipe us out entirely.  Each year as we revisit Exodus, we are confronted with this age-old truth.  We wince at our people’s suffering and marvel at our continued survival in spite of improbable odds.

January FOOD OF THE MONTH: Pasta

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URJ Weekly Torah Commentary

Saturday, January 27, 2018
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This Week at BHT

21 Jan 2018
12:00AM
Contribution Tax Letter
21 Jan 2018
09:30AM - 10:45AM
Introduction to Judaism
21 Jan 2018
09:45AM -
Forum on Immigrants, Detainees, Dreamers and the Dream Act
22 Jan 2018
07:00PM -
Book Club | The Book of Separation
23 Jan 2018
04:00PM -
Shalom Center Soup Kitchen
23 Jan 2018
06:00PM -
Ritual Committee Meeting
24 Jan 2018
05:30PM -
Adult Hebrew Beginner Class
24 Jan 2018
06:30PM -
Adult Hebrew Continuing Class
25 Jan 2018
06:30PM - 07:30PM
Taste of Mussar
26 Jan 2018
07:30PM -
Shabbat | New Member Shabbat | K-1 on the Bima | Lay Leader
28 Jan 2018
09:45AM - 10:45AM
Mindful Yoga | Posture and Breathing for Your Health
31 Jan 2018
05:30PM -
Adult Hebrew Beginner Class
31 Jan 2018
06:15PM - 07:15PM
Tu B'shvat Seder/Pot-luck Dinner
31 Jan 2018
06:30PM -
Adult Hebrew Continuing Class
31 Jan 2018
07:15PM -
Sabbatical Committee Meeting
01 Feb 2018
12:00AM
Achshav Deadline Spring
02 Feb 2018
05:45PM -
Family Kabbalat Shabbat | Grd K-2 (Giborim Class) participate on the bima
02 Feb 2018
06:30PM -
Potluck
02 Feb 2018
07:15PM -
Film: Voyage of the Damned
03 Feb 2018
09:15AM - 10:15AM
Torah Study
03 Feb 2018
10:30AM -
Learner's Minyan | Kitah Gimel and Dalet on the Bima
04 Feb 2018
09:30AM - 11:30AM
Great Decisions
04 Feb 2018
09:30AM - 10:45AM
Introduction to Judaism