Rabbi Feingold's D'var Torah

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Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Commemoration Day) and Yom Ha’atzma’ut (Israeli Independence Day) are sometimes referred to collectively as the “Yamim” (Hebrew for Days).  This Shabbat falls between the two Yamim, modern Jewish holidays created to honor watershed events in Jewish history.  On Tuesday night, we observed Yom HaShoah in Kenosha, listening to an eye-witness account of the Shoah from survivor, Estelle Laughlin.  Her remarks were both eye-opening and inspiring. If you missed it, please look for her memoir, Transcending Darkness, in the BHT library.  We will mark Israel’s 69thbirthday a few days after Yom Ha’atzma’ut, with a Shabbat afternoon concert of Israeli music on Saturday, May 6 at 4:30pm.  Join us for the new wave in contemporary Israeli spiritual and popular music with Mikolot Mayim, Rabbi Or and Feliza Zohar, from the Misgav Region of northern Israel.

This past Monday, the seventh day of Pesach, we read the story of the crossing of the Red Sea in the synagogue, and the Song of the Sea, Shirat Hayam, is attributed to Miriam by some scholars.  There is a unique Torah commentary by Ellen Frankel called The Five Books of Miriam.  For this week’s parasha (Torah portion), Frankel  speaks in the voice of Elisheva, wife of Aaron, mother of two of their four sons, who die mysteriously on their ordination day, at the hand of God. (Lev. 10:1-7)  In the Torah, Elisheva is never mentioned; her reaction to her sons’ death is not recorded.  The Five Books of Miriam gives voice to Elisheva’s grief and the comfort she is shown by the women of her community:  “And so the women put away their hand drums…and did not perform the dance…prepared for what was meant to be a day of rejoicing.… They sang a lament to my dead sons, and so was I comforted for my loss.” (p. 161)

As we retell the story of the Exodus from Egypt each year at our Seders, we often place upon it our own imprint along with the stamp of the times in which we are living.  Egypt becomes a metaphor for any place where people are oppressed and persecuted; Pharaoh becomes any tyrant in our age; and the story of our people’s liberation represents the hope for the liberation of any nation or group that is suffering today.  But, can this time-honored tradition of making the Haggadah relevant be taken too far?  Are there some analogies that just don’t “work” and force the story of the exodus from Egypt into a comparison that should not be made?  At Shabbat services tomorrow night during these intermediate days of Passover, I will delve into this subject in my sermon.  Happy Pesach to all!

JULY FOOD OF THE MONTH: Canned Tuna  

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