Rabbi Feingold's D'var Torah

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In this week’s parasha, Moses speaks to God about succession plans for leadership of the Israelite community.  Moses knows that he will not go into Israel, and now Aaron and Miriam are both dead.  Moses urges God:  “Let Adonai…appoint someone over the community…who shall take them out and bring them in, so that Adonai’s community may not be like sheep that have no shepherd.” (Num. 27:17) One might read into these lines Moses’ disappointment that he does not get to see his mission through to the end.  He begs God not to keep the next leader from fulfilling his mission. The truth, however, is that few of us get the privilege of seeing all of our dreams and goals accomplished.  We have to accept some degree of “unfinished business” no matter how long we strive toward our goals or how many years we live.  But we should not mistake an incomplete mission for failure.   Instead, the quality of the journey and the good that we did along the way should be our focus.

This week’s parasha contains a story about a king, a prophet, and a talking donkey.  The King of Moab, Balak, implores a renowned foreign prophet, Bil’am, to go and curse the Israelite people, offering a handsome reward.   Echoes of Egypt’s Pharaoh abound, in Balak’s paranoid view of the Israelites:  “…they are too numerous for me; perhaps I can defeat them and drive them out of the land.” (Num. 22:6) Bila’am sets out to do the king’s bidding, but fails repeatedly as God intervenes, even speaking through the prophet’s donkey.   One commentator asks why Balak did not ask the prophet to bless his own people, instead of cursing another.  Beit Ramah concludes:  “He was so consumed by hatred that he forgot about his people’s needs and could think only about hurting his enemy. “  (Etz Hayim commentary, p. 895.)  We will take up this story at our Parashat Hashvuah (Weekly Torah Portion)study this Shabbat on Saturday at 9:30am. (Under the umbrellas in the BHT backyard.  Inside, if rainy or too hot.)  Join us!

This week’s decision by Prime Minister Netanyahu to renege on his commitment to create an egalitarian worship space at the Western Wall in Jerusalem should trouble every Jew who cares about pluralism, democracy and the future of the Jewish State. (For more information, click on the links below in this edition of the BHT ENews.)  That this decision was made during the week of parshat Chukat, when we read about the ritual of the red heifer (Num. 19), seems fitting.  This obscure law about the use of the ashes of a cow for purification purposes has not been followed since shortly after the Temple was destroyed.  But, because of this statement in the Talmud:  “According to R. Meir in all of Jewish history only seven heifers were burned, but according to the rabbis there were nine (Par. 3:5), and the tenth and last will be prepared by the Messiah (Yad, Parah Adummah 3:4),” one very small sub-sect within the Orthodox Jewish world is preparing to reinstitute the red heifer law in the Messianic Age.  It is also a small sub-sect of the Jewish world that PM Netanyahu is trying to appease in reversing course on The Kotel.   His decision is as out of step with modernity as was the red heifer law in the 1st Century CE.

January FOOD OF THE MONTH: Pasta

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URJ Weekly Torah Commentary

Saturday, January 27, 2018
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This Week at BHT

21 Jan 2018
12:00AM
Contribution Tax Letter
21 Jan 2018
09:30AM - 10:45AM
Introduction to Judaism
21 Jan 2018
09:45AM -
Forum on Immigrants, Detainees, Dreamers and the Dream Act
22 Jan 2018
07:00PM -
Book Club | The Book of Separation
23 Jan 2018
04:00PM -
Shalom Center Soup Kitchen
23 Jan 2018
06:00PM -
Ritual Committee Meeting
24 Jan 2018
05:30PM -
Adult Hebrew Beginner Class
24 Jan 2018
06:30PM -
Adult Hebrew Continuing Class
25 Jan 2018
06:30PM - 07:30PM
Taste of Mussar
26 Jan 2018
07:30PM -
Shabbat | New Member Shabbat | K-1 on the Bima | Lay Leader
28 Jan 2018
09:45AM - 10:45AM
Mindful Yoga | Posture and Breathing for Your Health
31 Jan 2018
05:30PM -
Adult Hebrew Beginner Class
31 Jan 2018
06:15PM - 07:15PM
Tu B'shvat Seder/Pot-luck Dinner
31 Jan 2018
06:30PM -
Adult Hebrew Continuing Class
31 Jan 2018
07:15PM -
Sabbatical Committee Meeting
01 Feb 2018
12:00AM
Achshav Deadline Spring
02 Feb 2018
05:45PM -
Family Kabbalat Shabbat | Grd K-2 (Giborim Class) participate on the bima
02 Feb 2018
06:30PM -
Potluck
02 Feb 2018
07:15PM -
Film: Voyage of the Damned
03 Feb 2018
09:15AM - 10:15AM
Torah Study
03 Feb 2018
10:30AM -
Learner's Minyan | Kitah Gimel and Dalet on the Bima
04 Feb 2018
09:30AM - 11:30AM
Great Decisions
04 Feb 2018
09:30AM - 10:45AM
Introduction to Judaism