Rabbi Feingold's D'var Torah

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This week’s Torah portion is called “Shoftim.”  The word “shoftim” means “judges,” and this is the very first word of the parasha.  Moses is instructed to appoint judges and magistrates to settle matters between the people, giving over his own role and that of the elders he previously appointed, to a professional class of judges for the new era of settlement in the Land of Israel.  During the past year, I have considered the role of judges in our society more than ever as our son, Jonathan, has served as a judicial clerk in two federal courts.  How wise is our system of courts and judges and the legal system that undergirds them.  How complicated are the subjects they must consider.  How careful and precise is the work they undertake.  As early as Deuteronomy, our ancestors understood that the work of administering justice ought to be handled by professionals who have the skill and knowledge to judge the people with “mishpat tzedek,” “righteous judgment.”  (Deut. 16:18)

Parashat Re’eh begins with the commandment:  “You must destroy all the sites at which the nations you are to dispossess worshipped their gods, … Tear down their altars, smash their pillars, put their sacred posts to the fire, and cut down the images of their gods, obliterating their name from that site. ” (Deut. 12:2–3) What a week to encounter this verse!  The controversy swirling around events in Charlottesville, VA this week has raised, among other crucial issues, the question of the removal of Confederate statues in the American South.  The statues in question are not representations of foreign gods, as in the Torah portion.  Rather, they are symbols of a way of life that our nation abandoned after the Civil War:   The institution of slavery.  When we read this verse in the Torah portion, we may bristle at its harshness and its insensitivity to the other religions. Or we may view it a necessary step in the perpetuation of our people’s values.  Does the effort to tear down statues of Confederate leaders on public land represent insensitivity?  Or is it justified as a statement of our values as a nation today?  I come down on the side of the latter, and I will share my thoughts on this subject at Kabbalat Shabbat services this Friday at 5:45pm.  

“Can you believe it’s already August? Summer’s almost over.” It is a common refrain at this time of year. Perhaps we all begin to feel a bit anxious as summer wanes, but in the Jewish world, there is a reason for our anxiety: Soon the Days of Awe will be upon us, and we wonder if we will be ready. The rabbis who chose the weekly Haftarah readings were keenly aware of the season, the Torah theme of the week, and the psyche of those who would be listening to the scripture lesson in the synagogue. For this season, they chose seven messages of “nechemta,” comfort, partly to help us move out of the mode of mourning that pervades the Tisha B’av observance we have just completed. But, I believe they were also trying to help us cope with the coming of the season of repentance. Texts of comfort from the prophet Isaiah are shared each week, beginning with this week’s Shabbat Nachamu, Shabbat of Comfort, echoing the beginning words of the Haftarah: “Nachamu, nachamu, ami,” Comfort ye, comfort ye, My people.” (Isaiah 40:1)

April FOOD OF THE MONTH: Raisins

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This Week at BHT

27 Apr 2018
07:30PM -
Shabbat | MIDRASHA_KRAFTY 8-9 grade on the Bima | High School Grad farewell
29 Apr 2018
11:25AM -
Ribbon Cutting Ceremony
30 Apr 2018
12:00AM
4th Qtrly MCC Payment Due
01 May 2018
12:00AM
Achshav Deadline Summer
01 May 2018
07:00PM - 09:00PM
Israel's Milestones and Their Meanings Class
02 May 2018
12:00AM
Lag BaOmer
02 May 2018
05:30PM -
Adult Hebrew Beginner Class
02 May 2018
06:30PM -
Adult Hebrew Continuing Class
02 May 2018
12:00AM
Lag BaOmer
03 May 2018
05:30PM -
CUSH Banquet - "Raise Your Voice"
04 May 2018
05:45PM -
Kabbalat Shabbat
05 May 2018
09:15AM - 10:15AM
Torah Study
05 May 2018
09:30AM -
Parashat HaShavuah Torah Study
05 May 2018
10:30AM -
Learner's Minyan | Student on the Bima Make-up Day
06 May 2018
09:30AM - 11:30AM
Great Decisions
08 May 2018
06:45PM -
Leadership Council Meeting
09 May 2018
05:30PM -
Adult Hebrew Beginner Class
09 May 2018
06:30PM -
Adult Hebrew Continuing Class
10 May 2018
06:30PM -
JCF Meeting
10 May 2018
07:30PM -
Sabbatical Committee