The New Shul

Weekly D'var Torah

In this week’s parashah, B’ha’alotkha, God teaches Aaron the priest how to light the ner tamid , the lamp that was to burn each night in the tabernacle. The Torah says that, after receiving the instructions, Aaron “did so” — i.e. he lit the lamp.

The commentators wondered why the Torah would bother to tell us that Aaron “did so.” Shouldn’t it go without saying that Aaron would obey God’s command? Rashi explained that the phrase “did so” means that Aaron “did not change” — which seems to mean that Aaron did exactly as he was commanded, and changed nothing. But in that case, we would have to ask the same question: Why would the Torah bother to tell us that?

Rabbi Menahem Mendel of Kotzk interpreted Rashi’s words differently. According to the Kotzker, when Rashi said that Aaron “did not change” he meant that Aaron’s experience of the mitzvah never changed. Every evening for the rest of Aaron’s life, he lit the lamp with the same joy and excitement that he felt the first time he did it. The mitzvah never grew old for him.

In our religious practice, we strive for the same ideal: to keep the mitzvot that bring meaning to our lives forever fresh, never to allow them to decay into routine but always to keep them new, as if we were performing them for the first time. The name of our community, The New Shul, represents a challenge to ourselves to do exactly that.

  • The New Shul’s Shabbat services are on Friday evenings from 6 to 7 pm, and on Saturday mornings from 9 am to 12 noon. This Shabbat morning, June 2, we will celebrate the upcoming wedding of Scott Berlant and Betty Leiter. The kiddush-lunch will be sponsored by Scott and Betty, and by Ora Kurland and Eric Steinberg in honor of their sons Yoni, Noam and Eytan.
    Childcare is available from 10 am to noon on Shabbat mornings.
    Minyanim during the week are on Sunday mornings at 9:30 am, Monday evenings at 7 pm, and Wednesday evenings at 7 pm.
    Join us for Friday night dinner at The New Shul on June 15, after the 6 pm service. The cost is $18 per adult, and $9 per child under 13 (no charge for children under 5). Please make your reservation by sending in your payment by June 8. If you wish to pay on-line, you can do so here.
    Please note that there will be no e-bulletins during the months of June and July. The bulletin will resume on Thursday August 9. Services will continue through the summer as always.