The New Shul

Parshat Mishpatim

In this week’s parashah, Mishpatim, the children of Israel accept the Torah by declaring “Na’aseh v’nishma” — which can be translated “We will do and we will understand.”

Rabbi Menahem Mendel of Kotzk explained the phrase in this way:   Throughout history, the greatest thinkers have attempted to understand God intellectually, but they could comprehend only what the human mind is able to grasp.  The way of mitzvah is different.  To do a mitzvah is to find God not in abstract thought but in concrete action.  It is to comprehend what the mind alone cannot.  Hence “We will do and we will understand.”

Why is action able to take us to a level of understanding that intellect alone cannot?  Because action involves the whole self, body and heart as well as mind. The more of ourselves we commit, the closer we can come to God. The more we give, the higher we reach.

The Kotzker Rebbe’s point is one that we verify through our own experience. Thinking is important. We do not wish to be uncritical followers. But through mitzvah, sacred action, we come to understand the meaning of holiness in a way that we cannot through detached thought alone.  May the life of mitzvah that we build together help us to achieve that deeper understanding.

  • 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 Yaneav and Michele Cohen.
  • Childcare is available from 10 am to noon on Shabbat mornings. Children’s services this Shabbat are: Beyond Bim Bom II for grades 2 to 3 from 10:15 to 11:00 am, and Tween Tefillah for grades 4 to 6 from 10:15 to 11:30 am.
  • If you would like to participate in The New Shul’s Purim shpiel, please stay for rehearsal after kiddush this Shabbat.
  • This Saturday night, Feb. 18, join us for a screening and discussion of the film Campfire by Yosef Cedar (2004).  Please note that the time been moved from 7:30 to 8:00 pm.
  • Minyanim at The New Shul during the week are on Sunday mornings at 9:30 am, and on Wednesday mornings at 7:00 am.
  • On Presidents’ Day, Mon. Feb. 20, 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.
  • There is still time to RSVP for The New Shul’s 10th Anniversary celebration on Sunday Feb. 26 at 6 pm at the Hilton Scottsdale. Rabbi David Wolpe will be the keynote speaker. The cost is $54 per person. To RSVP, please reply to this email by Monday Feb. 20.
  • Erev Purim is Wednesday Mar. 7. Join us for our megillah reading and shpiel beginning at 7:00 pm. On the morning of Purim, Thursday Mar. 8, join us for minyan, including another reading of the megillah, at 7 am.
  • The New Shul will host a blood drive on Sunday Mar. 11, beginning at 8:15 am and continuing through the day. To sign up to donate, or for further information, please call or email.