The New Shul

Weekly D'var Torah

This week’s parashah, Naso, teaches the laws of the nazir, one who took a vow not to drink wine (which represented worldly pleasure) or to cut his hair (which represented normal hygiene). The nazir also vowed to avoid contact with the dead — that is, to distance himself from human mortality. To be a nazir was to take a spiritual path that required denial of the body.

At the end of the nazir’s term, he went through a ritual of return to normal life. As part of that ritual, he was required to bring a hattat, a sin offering. The rabbis of the Talmud wondered why. Of what sin was the nazir presumed to be guilty? Their answer was that being a nazir was in itself a kind of sin, in that denial of the body was not the ideal path to holiness. The most authentic Jewish path to God is not to separate oneself from the physical world, but rather to embrace it as the divine gift that it is, and to see its challenges as opportunities to work with God to redeem creation. A true Jewish spirituality is not about escaping the mundane, but about discovering the holiness in it, and in the process raising it up.

Shabbat, on which we rest our bodies to renew our souls, exemplifies that ideal.

  • 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, May 26, we will celebrate the upcoming wedding of Gary Gold and Shana Weitzen. The kiddush-lunch will be sponsored by Gary’s parents Alan Gold and Pnina Levine.
    Childcare is available from 10 am to noon on Shabbat mornings.
    Please note that our Wednesday morining minyan is suspended for the summer. 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.