The New Shul

Parshat Toldot

In this week’s parashah, Toldot, the Torah tells us that Yaakov and his brother Esav contended with each other even before they were born, to their mother Rivka’s great distress. “The sons struggled inside her, and she said ‘If so, why do I exist?’ And she went to seek out the Lord.”

Rivka’s words “Why do I exist?” sound like a cry of pain, a bitter rhetorical question. But Rabbi Efrayim of Sudlikov took Rivka’s words more literally, not as a rhetorical question but as an actual question. Rabbi Efrayim interpreted the passage to mean that Rivka sought God out in order to remind herself why she was living, to restore her sense of purpose. Due to the struggle within her, she had lost her sense of what her life was about, and needed God’s help to restore her perspective.

We all have conflicts within us, which can cause us to lose focus. At those times we need help to remember what matters most in life, what makes life worth the struggle. Regaining perspective does not make the struggles go away, but it can make them manageable — even turn them into sources of growth.

Shabbat serves that function every week. Shabbat does not solve our problems, but it helps us to remember what makes struggling with our problems worth it. By restoring our sense of purpose, it gives us the strength and courage to confront our challenges anew. May this Shabbat, and every Shabbat, help us to remember why we live.

  • 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 Jason and Carey Lamm.
  • Childcare is available from 10 am to noon on Shabbat mornings. Children’s services this Shabbat are: Beyond Bim Bom I for grades K to 1 from 10:30 to 11:00 am, and Beyond Bim Bom II for grades 2 to 3 from 10:15 to 11:15 am.
  • Finding Our Way, Rabbi Wasserman’s class on Jewish prayer, continues after kiddush this Shabbat afternoon November 17.
  • Minyanim during the week are on Sunday mornings at 9:30 am and on Wednesday mornings at 7 am.
  • On Sunday November 25 at 10:30 am, The New Shul community will prepare holiday gift packages to be distributed by Jewish Family and Children’s Services to needy families and home-bound seniors. Please call or email for details.

As our brothers and sisters in Israel face war once again, our prayers are with them. Our hearts go out to the survivors of the rocket attacks, and to the families of the victims. May they find the strength to persevere, and may peace be restored soon.