The New Shul

Parshat Va’et’hanan

In this week’s parashah, Va’et’hanan, Moshe re-teaches the ten commandments, including the commandment to rest on Shabbat.  He says:  “Observe the Shabbat Day and keep it holy. . . . Remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt and that the Lord your God freed you from there. . . therefore the Lord your God has commanded you to observe the Shabbat Day.”

What is a slave?  In the broadest sense, a slave is someone who has no value apart from his/her value in the marketplace. A slave is defined entirely by his/her contribution to the economy. He/she has no self except an economic self.

By that definition, we often find ourselves enslaved as well.  Our society tends to define us by what we produce and what we consume, what we “do” and what we own. That definition can be terribly de-humanizing, in that it reduces us to what the market says we are worth.

That is where Shabbat comes in. Once a week we step back from the economy — we stop producing and acquiring things — so that we can remember that we have a deeper self, that we are not just economic beings, but images of God. Then, when Shabbat is over and we return to the marketplace, we do so with a greater sense of freedom. We do so with the knowledge that our economic selves are only part of who we are, not the whole. May this Shabbat, and every Shabbat, teach us what freedom means.

  • 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 Ben and Mojdeh Bobrow.
  • 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 during the week are on Sunday mornings at 9:30 am, and Wednesday mornings at 7 am.