The New Shul


The first of this week’s two parshiyot, B’har, teaches about the land-sabbath, which occurred every seventh year, and the jubilee, which occurred every fiftieth year. Every seventh year, farmers let their fields grow wild, and whatever grew by itself was available to everyone. Every fiftieth year, all land sales during the previous forty-nine years were cancelled and the land reverted back to its original owners. The land-sabbath and the jubilee were expressions of the same underlying principle:  that the land does not belong to us but to God. That is why our right to profit from it, either by working it or selling it, was limited.

There is an important environmental message behind those laws.  The earth has its own integrity, independent of its usefulness to us.  Because the earth is God’s creation, we are not free to do with it whatever we please.  There is also an important spiritual message behind those laws. If we wish to make room for God in our lives, we must start by making ourselves smaller. By remembering that the world is not ours — that we are not God — we make room in our lives for the One whose world this is.

At the deepest level, environmental sensitivity and spiritual sensitivity go together. And Shabbat, the day on which we step back from our work  in order to appreciate the world as the gift that it is, renews both kinds of sensitivity.  May this Shabbat, and every Shabbat, help to make us better stewards of the world, and of our own souls.

  • 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 Pnina and Itzik Becher, and by Patti Evans and Andy Gordon, in honor of Eden Becher’s graduation from high school and Asif Becher’s graduation from middle school.
  • Childcare is available from 10 am to noon on Shabbat mornings. Beyond Bim Bom I, our learning service for grades K to 1, is from 10:15 to 11:00 am.
  • Minyanim at The New Shul during the week are on Sunday mornings at 9:30 am, and on Wednesday mornings at 7:00 am.
  • Shavuot, the festival that commemorates the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai, begins on Saturday night May 26.  Join us for our all-night Tikkun (study vigil) beginning at 9 pm. We will end at dawn on Sunday with morning prayers outdoors. All are welcome for any part of the night.
  • The service for the second day of Shavuot, Monday May 28, will begin at 9 am and will include Yizkor, the memorial prayer.
  • Rabbi Wasserman’s essay, “The New Middle Ground,” has been published as the lead article in the most recent edition of Conservative Judaism, the journal of the Rabbinical Assembly and the Jewish Theological Seminary. You can read it here.