Rabbi Feingold's D'var Torah


This week’s parasha (Torah portion) contains the story of Korach and his supporters who mount a near “coup” against the leadership of Moses and Aaron. Those who participated are killed in a dramatic event.  Nonetheless, God commands that the firepans, the very tools of their revolt, be used to make an altar covering for the Mishkan.  The Torah says that the fire pans “have become holy because they were offered before Adonai.” (Num. 17:3).  Commentators have puzzled over the meaning of this passage. How could symbols of sin and disrespect for leaders become holy?  One interpretation is that they are “mementos of the victory of truth over falsehood.” (Arama, p. 866 in Etz Hayim Torah Commentary.)  Much of the news cycle in America these days is focused around the difficult task of ferreting out truth over falsehood, especially in reporting on the FBI’s Russia probe.  When all is said and done and the truth is revealed, will we find a way, as a nation, to bring a sense of reverence back to our treasured institutions of Democracy? What “firepans” will we sanctify as a way of moving forward together?

“Yes we can” was the motto of President Obama’s 2008 campaign. Before that, it was the motto of the United Farm Workers, as in the Spanish: “Si se puede.” In this week’s Torah Portion, “Shelach Lecha,” Moses sends spies into Canaan to check out the land that the Israelites will one day inhabit. When the spies come back with their report, most of them seem overwhelmed by the task of settling the land. They convey to their fellow Israelites that the task will be too difficult. But two of those who went on the mission, Joshua and Caleb, have a completely different “take” on the experience. In an ancient version of today’s slogan, “Yes, we can,” Caleb says: “Yachol nuchal,” “We will surely be able.” (Num 13:30) At the Beth Hillel Annual Meeting on Sunday, I expounded on “Yachol nuchal” as a fitting motto for our congregation going forward. Read my full report at the BHT website, where you will find the entire Annual Report. It was also sent to you via Email at the end of last week.

This week is the 50th anniversary of the “Six Day War” that established Israel’s position as a major military power in the Middle East.  Those 6 days in June of 1967 gave our people great pride--to know that Israel could hold its own against hostile forces.  But, this 50th anniversary also marks the beginning of Israel’s role as an occupier of territory claimed by another people.  For many Jews, in Israel and in the Diaspora, this reality is very troubling.  In her commentary on this week’s Torah portion, Rabbi Mary Zamore pointed out that the Israelites in the wilderness were commanded to use silver trumpets for many conflicting purposes—from the announcing the waging of war to the celebration of holidays. (Num 10: 1- 10) She noted that this 50th anniversary is a mixed bag as well.  We celebrate Israel’s strength and vitality and also worry about its avalues and future.


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This Week at BHT

28 Jun 2017
10:00AM -
Social Action Committee at Sobin
29 Jun 2017
08:00AM - 09:00AM
FMC Meeting
30 Jun 2017
05:45PM -
Kabbalat Shabbat
04 Jul 2017
Independence Day (United States)
04 Jul 2017
Office Closed in Observance of Independence Day
05 Jul 2017
05:30PM -
Ritual Committee Meeting
07 Jul 2017
05:45PM -
Family Kabbalat Shabbat | BD Blessing
08 Jul 2017
09:30AM -
Parashat Hashavuah Torah Study
08 Jul 2017
10:30AM -
Lerner's Minyan
09 Jul 2017
04:00PM - 08:00PM
Committee Chairs Calender Meeting
10 Jul 2017
07:00PM -
Book Club
11 Jul 2017
Fast of 17th Tamuz (Jewish Religious Holiday)
11 Jul 2017
04:00PM -
Hebrew Clinic