Rabbi Feingold's D'var Torah


This week we begin to read from the last book of the Torah:  Devarim (Deuteronomy).   Moses shares the history of the wilderness years with the people before they enter the Land of Israel without him.   As Moses reviews the wandering of 40 years and the people they encountered on the way, some are described as relatives, and we recognize the names from the Genesis stories.  The descendants of Esau, Jacob’s brother, are encountered along with way and so are descendants of Lot, Abraham’s nephew.   Due to these relationships, the Edomites, Moabites and Amonites are all considered “kin” to the Israelites and their land considered already allotted by God and not available to Israelite settlement.  This is a plea for peaceful coexistence with some of the people they will find as they seek to settle the Promised Land.  The Israelites learn here that they are not the only ones who received a promise and that they will be living side by side with others in and around their Promised Land.

This week’s parasha (Torah portion) contains a law about a woman taking a vow and the ability of her father, if she is stilling living in his house, to cancel the vow if he does so on the same day that she makes it. (Num. 30:4-6) It sounds very sexist, right?  And it is, and so was the patriarchal society out of which this law came.   We need not embrace the law or the sexism today, but is there something we can learn from it?  Rabbi Laura Geller suggests the following message:  If we hear or read or witness something wrong, we must speak up immediately or the opportunity will pass us by. And our silence can be interpreted as our consent or assent. If the father of the woman taking a self-imposed law thought that her vow might harm herself or her family, he was duty bound to annul it. (Geller, Text Messages, pp. 208-210.)  If we witness harmful speech in our homes, on social media, in the workplace or when out for a social evening with friends, we need to muster the courage to speak up.  Letting bullying or racist or sexist comments or gossip go by without commenting is like consenting to what was said.

It is interesting to me to note how often the weekly parasha mirrors events in the world around us. In Pinchas, a milestone of women’s rights is achieved: Five sisters,who have no brothers (the daughters of Zelophechad), convince Moses and God that they should be able to receive their father’s inheritance. (Num. 27:5-7) Prior to this moment, only males could inherit the family property. In this week of Hillary Rodham Clinton receiving the nomination of the Democratic Party for President of the United States, another milestone has been achieved, or as we like to say today, a glass ceiling has been broken. Whatever your political views or your presidential preferences might be, we can all rejoice at this very symbolic moment of progress for women in American life.

MAY FOOD OF THE MONTH:Canned or Dried Beans

June   Powdered Milk 


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Thursday, May 25, CUSH Annual Celebration Banquet

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