The New Shul

Weekly D'var Torah

This week’s parashah, Re’eh, begins: “See, I place before you today a blessing and a curse. . .”  In the Hebrew, the grammar of the sentence is inconsistent. “See (re’eh)” is singular, and “before you (lif’neikhem)” is plural. Moshe switches in mid-sentence from addressing us in the singular to addressing us in the plural. Why?

Rabbi Menahem Mendel of Kotzk explained that “see” is addressed to each of us individually because, when we look at our lives, we each see different things. Our experiences differ. Our successes, failures and challenges are unique. We are called upon to grow in different ways. But “I have placed before you”  is addressed to us collectively because, at the most basic level, we all have the same choice to make. Will we take responsibility for our lives or not? Will we own the freedom that we have been given — will we choose to choose —  or not? As different as we are, we all have same the same underlying decision to make.

We grow by acknowledging our differences. We we also grow by recognizing that, in fundamental ways, we are all the same. The core challenge of being human, no matter who we are, is to acknowledge our freedom, to take responsibilty for our choices.

This Shabbat, we will announce the new month of Elul, the month of teshuvah, which begins next week. The challenge of this season is exactly what the Kotzker Rebbe spoke of — to acknowledge that we all have the ability to grow and change. Perhaps the recognition that we all share that same challenge will help us to find more strength to meet it, as we make our way toward the new year.

  • Shabbat services at The New Shul are on Friday evenings from 6 to 7 pm, and on Saturday mornings from 9 am to 12 noon.
  • 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, Wednesday mornings at 7 am, and Wednesday evenings at 7 pm.
  • Our adult Hebrew class begins next Wednesday evening at 7:30 pm. Please see our website for further information, and for a full  schedule of upcoming classes and lectures.
  • On Labor Day, Monday September 4, The New Shul community will serve meals to the hungry at St. Vincent de Paul’s Jackson St. dining room. Please let us know if you can help.