Rabbi Feingold's D'var Torah

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As we continue to live through an avalanche of sexual harassment and sexual impropriety accusations and admissions among the most powerful men in American society, Torah portion Vayishlach comes to remind us that the “me too” hashtag is as old as time.  Not only does the parasha contain the story of the rape of Dinah in Gen. 34, but also the implied rape of Bilhah by Jacob’s son Reuben in Gen 35, and the continuation of Jacob’s simultaneous relationship with 4 women,  Leah, Rachel, Bilhah and Zilpah, that we first encountered in last week’s parasha, Vayeitzei.   These stories are written from the vantage point of men, and the women’s account of what has happened to them is virtually non-existent.  Granted, different mores existed in ancient times.  But we are now only beginning to understand how society has successfully muted the voices of women  up to the present time when it comes to power and sex.  It is only because our mores have changed, even in the last two decades, that some women have acquired the courage to speak out.  May such courage be granted to all who have been wronged.

The word “toldot” means “generations,” but also often means “family history.” In Torah portion Toldot, we learn the family history of Isaac and Rebekah’s children, the twins Esau and Jacob. By the end of the parasha, they have gone in separate directions, Esau living in Canaan and Jacob heading to the ancestral homeland, Padan Aram, where he ends up settling for 20 years. The story of our people throughout history is one of pulling up stakes and moving to a new place, by choice or by force. This weekend of Toldot at Beth Hillel we will have two special events related to this theme: On Friday night, we will listen to a program about immigrants who wish to make a new life in the United States, only to be confronted with challenges at the U.S./Mexico border. On Saturday, we will have a cross-continent conversation with our “twin” congregation in Tivon, Israel, and we will share about our own family histories that have brought us to the places we now reside. Join us!

Each week our Bar/Bat Mitzvah students study one verse from the week’s parasha in Hebrew class.  In this week’s lesson, they read about the death of Sarah (Gen 23:2) and then looked at some laws about death and burial.  A passage from the Shulchan Arukh code of law is presented:  “A dying person should not be left alone because… a person learns something important from witnessing a death.” (Yoreh Deah 339.4)  It is not always possible to be at the bedside of a loved one when s/he dies, but when it happens, it is unquestionably a profound honor from which we learn and grow.  It is a moment of sadness and loss, and yet it is deep and meaningful to help to usher another soul from this world into the world beyond.   About a month ago, many of our members had the opportunity to be with our dear friend, Marge Block, in her final hours.  We thought we were coming to a birthday party, and unexpectedly ended up at her death bed.  What a mitzvah it was for so many to observe the Jewish custom mentioned above.  The “something important” that each of us learned that day may be very personal, but Marge and her family learned how much we all cared.  May her memory always be a blessing in the Beth Hillel community.

May FOOD OF THE MONTH: canned or dried beans

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This Week at BHT

21 Jun 2018
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21 Jun 2018
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LC Meeting
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Shalom Center Soup Kitchen
27 Jun 2018
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Food for Thought Class
29 Jun 2018
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Kabbalat Shabbat
01 Jul 2018
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MCC Pledges Due New Year