Rabbi Feingold's D'var Torah

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D’var Torah (A bit of Torah study from Rabbi Feingold) Beshallach

In this week’s Torah portion, we come to the story of the parting of the Red Sea, but throughout the Torah, it is referred to as Yam Suf, which translates to Reed Sea.  It is not known if there was a mistranslation along the way or if the Sea carried more than one name.  Apparently there are red algae blooms that could account for one of the names, and the Sea does have areas, particularly in the north near Egypt, with many reed plants as well. This area is often thought of as the site of the story in this week’s parasha.  At the southernmost tip of Israel is the city of Eilat, sitting on the shore of the Gulf of Aqaba, an extension of the Red Sea.  In the 1970s, when Israel had possession of the Sinai Peninsula, I was twice on camping trips which took us further down the coast of the Gulf of Aqaba, until we finally reached and snorkeled off of the amazing coral reefs of Ras Muhammad, the tip of the peninsula that is situated on the northernmost point of the main body of the Red Sea.  Everything south of Eilat is now in the possession of Egypt, as it had been prior to the 1967 Six Day War.  The Sinai Peninsula was returned to Egypt in a peace deal in 1979.

D’var Torah (A bit of Torah study from Rabbi Feingold) Bo

In Torah portion Bo, the exodus finally occurs: “At the end of the four hundred and thirtieth year (of the sojourn in Egypt), to the very day, all the ranks of the Eternal One departed from the land of Egypt.” (Ex. 12:41)  Recall that our Israelite ancestors came to Egypt as refugees, fleeing famine in their homeland of Canaan.  In Joseph’s time, they were welcomed, but the Pharaoh of Exodus feared our ancestors as an internal threat. (Ex. 1) Today’s America reverberates with echoes of this story.  A fear of foreigners has already caused our nation to reject many seeking refuge here.  Fear is a powerful force.  It is crucial that we rise above xenophobia, lest our nation become a modern-day Egypt that embraces wholesale a worldview that allows the oppression of newcomers and leads to a modern day exodus.

D’var Torah (A bit of Torah study from Rabbi Feingold) VA’EIRA

At the beginning of this week’s parasha (Torah portion), Moses reports back to God about his effort to convince the Israelites that God would free them from slavery.  The text tells us that the people were unable to hear Moses’ hopeful message because their spirits were “crushed by cruel bondage.”  (Ex. 6: 9) How do we respond when local, national or world events crush our spirits?  Do we begin to tune out anything that provides sparks of hope in the darkness?  Recent events have brought a sense of despair to many in the U.S.  In truth, this happens almost any time that there is a significant shift in the political landscape.  In response to America’s recent transition of power, a nonpartisan group of 100 religious scholars have chosen to speak their minds, to America’s new leaders, but also to each of us, during the first 100 days of the new Administration.  To subscribe to these daily, inspirational letters, go to http://www.valuesandvoices.com

MAY FOOD OF THE MONTH:Canned or Dried Beans

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Thursday, May 25, CUSH Annual Celebration Banquet

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