Rabbi Feingold's D'var Torah

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“Yes we can” was the motto of President Obama’s 2008 campaign. Before that, it was the motto of the United Farm Workers, as in the Spanish: “Si se puede.” In this week’s Torah Portion, “Shelach Lecha,” Moses sends spies into Canaan to check out the land that the Israelites will one day inhabit. When the spies come back with their report, most of them seem overwhelmed by the task of settling the land. They convey to their fellow Israelites that the task will be too difficult. But two of those who went on the mission, Joshua and Caleb, have a completely different “take” on the experience. In an ancient version of today’s slogan, “Yes, we can,” Caleb says: “Yachol nuchal,” “We will surely be able.” (Num 13:30) At the Beth Hillel Annual Meeting on Sunday, I expounded on “Yachol nuchal” as a fitting motto for our congregation going forward. Read my full report at the BHT website, where you will find the entire Annual Report. It was also sent to you via Email at the end of last week.

This week is the 50th anniversary of the “Six Day War” that established Israel’s position as a major military power in the Middle East.  Those 6 days in June of 1967 gave our people great pride--to know that Israel could hold its own against hostile forces.  But, this 50th anniversary also marks the beginning of Israel’s role as an occupier of territory claimed by another people.  For many Jews, in Israel and in the Diaspora, this reality is very troubling.  In her commentary on this week’s Torah portion, Rabbi Mary Zamore pointed out that the Israelites in the wilderness were commanded to use silver trumpets for many conflicting purposes—from the announcing the waging of war to the celebration of holidays. (Num 10: 1- 10) She noted that this 50th anniversary is a mixed bag as well.  We celebrate Israel’s strength and vitality and also worry about its avalues and future.

Although we observe one day of Shavuot in Reform Judaism, today is the second day of Shavuot for others.  On Shavuot, we relive the receiving of Torah at Mt. Sinai and read the passages in Exodus surrounding that revelation. Before the Ten Commandments are given, Moses tells the men to purify themselves, including the statement: “Do not go near a woman.” (Ex. 19:15) …Ouch!  Just when we are looking forward to that moment when the entire community (every Jew who ever lived or would ever live) stands as one to receive the Torah, women are singled out for exclusion, or worse, for tainting the moment of revelation.  Various commentators have tried to ameliorate this statement so that it sounds less harsh or exclusionary, but the fact is that until very recent times, women were (and in some communities still are) excluded from the moments, rites, and rituals that bring them close to Torah.  We need to continue to work for the time when all women will be given access to and be recognized as having much to bring to Torah.

November FOOD OF THE MONTH: Canned Tomatoes 

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URJ Weekly Torah Commentary

Saturday, November 25, 2017
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This Week at BHT

23 Nov 2017
12:00AM
Thanksgiving Office Closed
24 Nov 2017
05:45PM -
Shabbat
27 Nov 2017
07:00PM -
Canceled-Book Club
28 Nov 2017
04:00PM -
Shalom Center Soup Kitchen
29 Nov 2017
05:30PM -
Adult Hebrew Beginner Class
29 Nov 2017
06:30PM -
Adult Hebrew Continuing Class
01 Dec 2017
12:00AM
Nosh On!
01 Dec 2017
05:45PM -
Family Kabbalat Shabbat | BD Blessing | Home | Gershtenson
02 Dec 2017
09:15AM - 10:15AM
Torah Study
02 Dec 2017
10:30AM -
Learner's Minyan | Kitah Hey on the Bima
03 Dec 2017
09:30AM - 10:45AM
Introduction to Judaism
03 Dec 2017
09:30AM - 11:30AM
Great Decisions
03 Dec 2017
10:30AM - 12:00AM
Construction Has Begun | Let's Celebrate | Lox and Bagels Brunch