The New Shul

Parshat Va-et’hanan/Shabbat Nahamu

In this week’s parashah, Va-et‘hanan, Moses commands the children of Israel (in words that we recite each day in the first section of the Sh’ma):  “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your might.” The S’fat Emet asked the question:  How can one be commanded to love ?  Isn’t love, like all feelings, something that one either feels or does not?

The S’fat Emet’s answer was that Moses’s challenge to us is, in part, a reassurance.  Implicit in Moses’s words is the promise that every one of us has the capacity for self-transcendence.  We all have the ability to reach up to God.  The only question is whether we will do what we must do to realize that potential.  Moses’s challenge to us is not to feel but to do, to take action to unlock the capacity for  love that all of us have inside, to use the structures of religious practice to open our hearts.

That is the purpose of religious life:  to awaken our capacity for self-transendence, to unlock our ability to love.  And there is no better place to start than with Shabbat.  The discipline of slowing down from our hectic pace once a week — for example turning off our cell phones and computers — is a discipline of love.  Shabbat frees us to remember what the pressures of the week have caused us to forget — that all of us are images of God, and that the spark of holiness within us links us to our source, and to each other.

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  • 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. The kiddush this Shabbat is sponsored by Karen and Phil Bodin in honor of their son Michael, who is moving to Israel at the end of this month.
  • “Beyond Bim Bom,” our learning service for grades K to 3, begins this Shabbat at 10:30 am.
  • Minyanim during the week are on Sunday mornings at 9:30 am, and on Wednesday mornings at 7 am.
  • On Monday September 5, Labor Day, 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.
  • Join us for Friday night dinner at The New Shul on September 9, right after the 6 pm service.  The cost is $18 per adult and $9 per teen/child under 18.  No charge for children under 5.  Please send in your payment by Tuesday September 6 to make your reservation.
  • Check out our “Niggun Of The Week” a melody to help you get ready for Shabbat.  Listen for it in our davening and table-singing.  The words are “Ivdu et Hashem b’simha, bo’u l’fanav bir’nanah –  Serve the Lord with joy, come before Him with song.”