Rabbi Feingold's D'var Torah

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D'Var Torah (A bit of Torah study from Rabbi Feingold) Zachor

The Shabbat that precedes Purim (in this year’s case, just as Shabbat ends, Purim begins) is known as Shabbat Zachor.  The word “zachor,” “remember” is taken from the special verses added to this week’s Torah portion:  “Zachor et asher asa l’cha Amalek,”  “Remember what Amalek,” the arch-enemy of the Israelite people, “did to you.” (Deut. 25: 17-19). In fact, in the Megillah, Haman’s lineage is traced to Amalek.  Remembering our enemies is, unfortunately, something of which we seldom have to be reminded as Jews.  Waves of antisemitism ebb and flow, but we seem to be experiencing a high tide moment in the United States right now.  It is disturbing and sad, but we are grateful that we live in a society in which our institutions: The police force, the courts, and our Constitution protect us from such threats and actions.  We must be ever vigilant against antisemitism and hatred and bigotry in all of its forms.  As Jews, we must “remember” to stand up for all who are the victims of hate and intimidation in these troubling times. 

D'var Torah (A bit of Torah study from Rabbi Feingold) Yitro

In this week’s parasha, BEFORE the commandments are given in an impressive theophany at Mt. Sinai, Exodus 19: 8 records that the people answered “as one” that they would do them:  “All that the Eternal One has spoken, we will do.”   It was an act of trust and imagination that enabled the Israelites to believe, before ever hearing the commandments, that they would be right and good because they came from the One who led them from slavery into freedom. The people were hopeful based on past experience and reason.  It worked out well for our ancient ancestors.  But what happens when trust and imagination based on past experience and reason leads us astray?  What happens when leaders take us down a path that diverges, at points, from our most basic Jewish values?  Many are asking these questions in these first 100 days of the new United States Administration.  The text and questions raised here will be the basis of my sermon tomorrow night at 7:30pm Shabbat services.

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.

JULY FOOD OF THE MONTH: Canned Tuna  

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