Torah Thoughts for Today
Shabbat Ki Tavo 5771
Rabbi Mark Mallach
Temple Beth Ahm Yisrael, Springfield, NJ
TONIGHT!!!!! TWO BIG KICK-OFFS!!!!
Teen Institute – Grades 8 – 11
Attn: All parents of a student in 8th through 11th grade – This evening, September 13, 2011, at 6:15 PM, is the opening BBQ & Session of Teen Institute, our temple’s Hebrew High School program, taking place in the temple’s courtyard. POI: Recent studies have documented the profoundly positive effect that such programs have on the solid level of Jewish identity in young Jewish adults who have attended a Hebrew High School program. We know how over-programmed our kids are in this day and age, but shouldn’t there be time to squeeze in building a stronger Jewish identity?
BTW: this program is open to ALL Jewish teens
READ HEBREW AMERICA CRASH HEBREW READING CLASS & Adult Bnai Mitzvah Class Starting!
Do you want to learn how to read Hebrew or brush up on your Alef Bet for an upcoming Simha? TBAY is offering a FREE 5 week Hebrew Reading Crash Course sponsored by Read Hebrew America, on Tuesdays at 7:30 pm, beginning September 13. This class is open to all! Refreshments will be provided.
Following the completion of our Hebrew Reading Crash Course, we will begin a new Adult B’nai Mitvzah class, also on Tuesdays. If you did not have a Bar or Bat Mitzvah and are interested in fulfilling this rite of passage, this class is perfect for you! Learn prayer in the Siddur, Haftorah and Torah portions, practice with speeches and receive guidance and support throughout the process. There is a fee for the two year B’nai Mitzvah class but confidential financial support is available. Please contact the synagogue office (973-376-0539 ext 13) for more information.
Babysitting and Blessings.
We are excited about a new program this year, Babysitting and Blessings.
This program is offered every Shabbat morning, beginning September 24, during our Shabbat services.
We are delighted when parents bring their children to Shabbat Services, which begin at 9:30 am in the Main Sanctuary. Babysitting and Blessings then begins at 10:30 am in Room 10 with our Early Childhood Program teachers Cheryl Gottfried and Orlanda Nissani. Your children can join their friends for familiar games, stories and snacks while you enjoy a relaxing and meditative service in the sanctuary.
Join us for a delicious Kiddush luncheon and visit with your friends following the service each week.
NEXT POTENTIAL CONGREGATIONAL ISRAEL TOUR
There have been inquiries about the next potential congregation Israel tour, such an event depends on several factors:
1. Currently exploring departure dates for the end of June, 2012
2. Having a nucleus of participants to make it viable – 20 adult minimum
3. Having a chairman to organize
If anyone is interested, please let me know and we can discuss the possibilities (NOTE: HAVE GOTTEN MANY RESPONSES, INTEREST IS CLEARLY GROWING…)
IMPORTANT NOTES FOLLOW BELOW
PARASHAT KI TAVO
September 17, 2011- 18 Elul 5771
Annual: Deut. 26:1 – 29:8 (Etz Hayim, p. 1140; Hertz p. 859)
Triennial: Deut. 26:1 – 27:10 (Etz Hayim, p. 1140; Hertz p. 859)
Haftarah: Isaiah 60:1 – 22 (Etz Hayim, p. 1161; Hertz p. 874)
(Prepared by Rabbi Joseph Prouser, Baldwin, New York)
The Israelites are commanded to present the first fruits of their produce to the Priest at God’s chosen shrine. The worshipper is then to recite a declaration familiar to modern Jews from the Passover Haggadah: “Arami oved avi… My ancestor was a wandering Aramean…” This recitation of Israelite origins represents the very first scripted liturgy for Jewish worship and reflects our liturgy’s emphasis on historical experience. A prescribed verbal declaration, including a request for God’s blessing (“from your holy abode, from heaven”) similarly accompanies the tithe that Israelites provide for the support of Levites and strangers, widows and orphans.
The Israelites are admonished once again to be faithful to God and God’s commandments; God’s reciprocal devotion to His chosen people is assured.
When they will cross the Jordan to enter the Promised Land, Israel is commanded to erect stone pillars, coated with plaster, on which God’s laws are to be inscribed. These steles are to be dedicated with sacrifices to be offered on an altar of unhewn stone that the Israelites are instructed to build on Mount Ebal.
Israel prepares for the recitation of blessings and curses. (The ceremonious presentation was prescribed earlier, in parashat Re’eh.) The tribes of Shimon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Joseph, and Benjamin are assigned to Mount Gerezim for the blessing; Reuben, Gad, Asher, Zevulun, Dan, and Naphtali are to be present on Mount Ebal for the curses. Twelve specific sins (some would say, eleven specific sins and a final, generalized description of sin) are detailed, identified as worthy of being cursed, and individually acknowledged as such by a collective, national “Amen.” Offenses of cultic, sexual, moral, and violent character are included among these execrable sins.
Blessings for compliance with God’s commandments are given: “Blessed shall you be in the city and blessed shall you be in the country, Blessed shall be the issue of your womb. The Lord will make you the head, not the tail.” (This last blessing customarily is repeated on Rosh Hashanah eve.) These are followed by a further statement of largely parallel curses for Israelite disobedience to God: “Cursed shall you be in the city and cursed shall you be in the country. Cursed shall be the issue of your womb.” Thi passage, called the tochechah exhortation, includes particularly vile curses: “Your carcasses shall become food for all the birds of the sky. The Lord will strike you with the Egyptian inflammation, with hemorrhoids, boil scars. madness, blindness, and dismay.” Remarkably, the Torah reader customarily substitutes prescribed euphemism for the harshest of the Hebrew terms! So feared was this scriptural passage, nevertheless, that some communities have a history of skipping the section entirely. Others have required the Torah reader or shamas to accept this aliyah as a condition of employment. Still others, instead of assigning so unseemly a text as a Torah “honor,” simply announced “Yaamod mi she-yirtzeh” – “Let whoever wants it come forward!” In any case, it is common to read these verses quickly and quietly, dispensing with so unpleasant a text with all possible dispatch.
The parashah concludes with a firm admonition (for those who missed the message in the previous section!?) faithfully to adhere to God’s covenant, and to recognize in Israel’s historic experience God’s miraculous guidance and beneficent, providential care.
For your consideration:
The section that elucidates the Blessings and Curses is powerful and dramatic; it also resonates into our modern era. Israel is once again at the crossroads of standing between blessings and curses. The blessings: a country that continues to be our Jewish National Homeland, a source of technological innovation to the world, a truly democratic island in the midst of Middle Eastern turmoil, and the only true partner that the USA has for peace in the region. The curses: Hamas, Hezbollah, Iran, Syria and internal social turmoil.
Your thoughts as always…
A. Thursday, Sept 15, 7:45 PM: Torah on Tap
B. Friday, September 23: 8 PM: Shabbat Service + Healing Service
C. Thursday, October 6, 8 PM: Coffee & Clergy Corner – Springfield Barnes & Noble: Rabbi Mallach & Reverend David Knecht, Holy Cross Lutheran Church – will lead a topical discussion on issues that we all face – OPEN TO ALL – this is the inaugural evening for this event
You can also visit my website at: http://ridinrebbe.com/
For updated information go to: http://www.tbaynj.org/