Rabbi Feingold's D'var Torah

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There are two different Torah readings for Sukkot.  On the first day, we read about the observance of Sukkot in biblical times from the Book of Leviticus.  On Shabbat Chol Hamo’ed Sukkot (the Shabbat during the festival), we read from the Book of Exodus a passage that has nothing to do with Sukkot.  Or does it? In this passage, Moses asks to see God’s glory, and God answers:  “I will make all of My goodness pass before you….” (Ex 33: 19)  God has Moses stand in the cleft of a rock so that “you will see My back, but My face shall not be seen.” (33:23) This passage was chosen because Sukkot is a festival on which we are invited to appreciate what God provides in the world by spending time outside in the brilliance of the fall harvest season and by experiencing joy in the Sukkah.   In so doing, we do not see God, but God’s goodness does indeed pass before us.”  May you find yourself enjoying nature and camaraderie in a Sukkah this coming week.  Chag Samei’ach!

The new Mishkan HaNefesh mahzor offers us a variety of Torah and Haftarah portions for both Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. At Beth Hillel, we have begun to rotate through the various options from year to year. On Yom Kippur afternoon this year, our Torah text will be Genesis 50, the story of Jacob’s and Joseph’s deaths. This is an interesting passage for Yom Kippur, a day on which we are contemplating our own mortality and the meaning of our lives. In addition, the text has a great deal to teach about forgiveness and shalom bayit, making peace within the family. If the children of Jacob were able to heal the terrible emotional wounds that they wrought upon one another, surely we can too. “For sins between people and God, the Day of Atonement atones, but for sins between one person and the next, the Day of Atonement does not atone until they have made peace with one another.” It’s not too late…. Gamar Hatimah Tovah, May you be sealed for good, in the Book of Life.

This week’s Torah portion includes the Torah reading that the Reform movement uses on the morning of Yom Kippur.  (In traditional congregations, Leviticus 16 is used, which describes the ancient observance of Yom Kippur.)  In Deut. 30:19, Moses challenges us to “Choose life, so that you and your children may live….” In a commentary on this verse in the Mishkan HaNefesh machzor (High Holy Day prayer book), Rabbi Josh Zweiback says that this verse asks us:  “Do we live in a way that supports life in the broadest sense, or do we live in a way that serves only …our own narrow interests?”  As we inch closer to the New Year and the Ten Days of Repentance, one of the questions we should be asking ourselves is:  What life choices can I make that are not selfish, but that ensure a full and tranquil existence for future generations?  May it the New Year, 5778, be a blessed and life-giving year for us all.

May FOOD OF THE MONTH: canned or dried beans

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