Rabbi Feingold's D'var Torah

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This week’s Torah portion is called “Shoftim.”  The word “shoftim” means “judges,” and this is the very first word of the parasha.  Moses is instructed to appoint judges and magistrates to settle matters between the people, giving over his own role and that of the elders he previously appointed, to a professional class of judges for the new era of settlement in the Land of Israel.  During the past year, I have considered the role of judges in our society more than ever as our son, Jonathan, has served as a judicial clerk in two federal courts.  How wise is our system of courts and judges and the legal system that undergirds them.  How complicated are the subjects they must consider.  How careful and precise is the work they undertake.  As early as Deuteronomy, our ancestors understood that the work of administering justice ought to be handled by professionals who have the skill and knowledge to judge the people with “mishpat tzedek,” “righteous judgment.”  (Deut. 16:18)

Parashat Re’eh begins with the commandment:  “You must destroy all the sites at which the nations you are to dispossess worshipped their gods, … Tear down their altars, smash their pillars, put their sacred posts to the fire, and cut down the images of their gods, obliterating their name from that site. ” (Deut. 12:2–3) What a week to encounter this verse!  The controversy swirling around events in Charlottesville, VA this week has raised, among other crucial issues, the question of the removal of Confederate statues in the American South.  The statues in question are not representations of foreign gods, as in the Torah portion.  Rather, they are symbols of a way of life that our nation abandoned after the Civil War:   The institution of slavery.  When we read this verse in the Torah portion, we may bristle at its harshness and its insensitivity to the other religions. Or we may view it a necessary step in the perpetuation of our people’s values.  Does the effort to tear down statues of Confederate leaders on public land represent insensitivity?  Or is it justified as a statement of our values as a nation today?  I come down on the side of the latter, and I will share my thoughts on this subject at Kabbalat Shabbat services this Friday at 5:45pm.  

“Can you believe it’s already August? Summer’s almost over.” It is a common refrain at this time of year. Perhaps we all begin to feel a bit anxious as summer wanes, but in the Jewish world, there is a reason for our anxiety: Soon the Days of Awe will be upon us, and we wonder if we will be ready. The rabbis who chose the weekly Haftarah readings were keenly aware of the season, the Torah theme of the week, and the psyche of those who would be listening to the scripture lesson in the synagogue. For this season, they chose seven messages of “nechemta,” comfort, partly to help us move out of the mode of mourning that pervades the Tisha B’av observance we have just completed. But, I believe they were also trying to help us cope with the coming of the season of repentance. Texts of comfort from the prophet Isaiah are shared each week, beginning with this week’s Shabbat Nachamu, Shabbat of Comfort, echoing the beginning words of the Haftarah: “Nachamu, nachamu, ami,” Comfort ye, comfort ye, My people.” (Isaiah 40:1)

September FOOD OF THE MONTH: High Holy Days Mazon Food Drive 

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URJ Weekly Torah Commentary

Saturday, September 30, 2017
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This Week at BHT

26 Sep 2017
04:00PM -
Shalom Center Soup Kitchen
27 Sep 2017
05:30PM -
Adult Hebrew Beginner Class
27 Sep 2017
06:30PM -
Adult Hebrew Continuing Class
29 Sep 2017
12:00AM
Yom Kippur
29 Sep 2017
08:00PM -
Kol Nidre
29 Sep 2017
12:00AM
Yom Kippur
30 Sep 2017
10:00AM -
Yom Kippur
30 Sep 2017
12:30PM - 03:30PM
YK Options, incl. Fam Serv 2:30 |12:30-3:15
30 Sep 2017
03:30PM - 06:30PM
Mincha, Yizkor, Ne'ilah
30 Sep 2017
06:00PM -
Break - fast | Reservation Required
01 Oct 2017
12:00AM
Sukkot Set-Up & Decorate
01 Oct 2017
09:30AM - 11:00AM
Great Decisions
01 Oct 2017
09:30AM - 10:45AM
Introduction to Judaism
04 Oct 2017
05:45PM -
Erev Sukkot Family Services | BD Blessings | Dinner 6:30
05 Oct 2017
08:00AM -
Office Closed
06 Oct 2017
12:00AM
Sukkot | Lunch in Sukkah
06 Oct 2017
05:15PM -
Wine and Cheese
06 Oct 2017
05:45PM -
Kabbalat Shabbat
07 Oct 2017
09:15AM - 10:15AM
Torah Study
07 Oct 2017
10:30AM -
Learner's Minyan