Rabbi Feingold's D'var Torah

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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.

This week’s parasha (Torah portion) contains the story of Korach and his supporters who mount a near “coup” against the leadership of Moses and Aaron. Those who participated are killed in a dramatic event.  Nonetheless, God commands that the firepans, the very tools of their revolt, be used to make an altar covering for the Mishkan.  The Torah says that the fire pans “have become holy because they were offered before Adonai.” (Num. 17:3).  Commentators have puzzled over the meaning of this passage. How could symbols of sin and disrespect for leaders become holy?  One interpretation is that they are “mementos of the victory of truth over falsehood.” (Arama, p. 866 in Etz Hayim Torah Commentary.)  Much of the news cycle in America these days is focused around the difficult task of ferreting out truth over falsehood, especially in reporting on the FBI’s Russia probe.  When all is said and done and the truth is revealed, will we find a way, as a nation, to bring a sense of reverence back to our treasured institutions of Democracy? What “firepans” will we sanctify as a way of moving forward together?

“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.

April FOOD OF THE MONTH: Raisins

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This Week at BHT

27 Apr 2018
07:30PM -
Shabbat | MIDRASHA_KRAFTY 8-9 grade on the Bima | High School Grad farewell
29 Apr 2018
11:25AM -
Ribbon Cutting Ceremony
30 Apr 2018
12:00AM
4th Qtrly MCC Payment Due
01 May 2018
12:00AM
Achshav Deadline Summer
01 May 2018
07:00PM - 09:00PM
Israel's Milestones and Their Meanings Class
02 May 2018
12:00AM
Lag BaOmer
02 May 2018
05:30PM -
Adult Hebrew Beginner Class
02 May 2018
06:30PM -
Adult Hebrew Continuing Class
02 May 2018
12:00AM
Lag BaOmer
03 May 2018
05:30PM -
CUSH Banquet - "Raise Your Voice"
04 May 2018
05:45PM -
Kabbalat Shabbat
05 May 2018
09:15AM - 10:15AM
Torah Study
05 May 2018
09:30AM -
Parashat HaShavuah Torah Study
05 May 2018
10:30AM -
Learner's Minyan | Student on the Bima Make-up Day
06 May 2018
09:30AM - 11:30AM
Great Decisions
08 May 2018
06:45PM -
Leadership Council Meeting
09 May 2018
05:30PM -
Adult Hebrew Beginner Class
09 May 2018
06:30PM -
Adult Hebrew Continuing Class
10 May 2018
06:30PM -
JCF Meeting
10 May 2018
07:30PM -
Sabbatical Committee