The New Shul

Parshat Vayishlah

In this week’s parashah, Vayishlah, Yaakov returns to the land of Israel after twenty years of exile. He goes on a pilgrimage to Beth El, the place where he had first encountered God as a young man. In preparation for the pilgrimage, he commands the members of his household to purify themselves from any remnants of idolatry that they might have brought back with them to the land of Israel. The Torah tells us that the members of his household “gave to Yaakov all of the foreign gods that they had, and the rings that were in their ears, and Yaakov buried them.”

Rabbi Simha Bunem of Pshiskha asked: Why did they need to give their earrings to Yaakov, as well as their idols? What does ordinary jewelry have to do with idolatry?

The point, according to Rabbi Simha Bunem, is that sometimes ordinary possessions are idols — that is, if we allow them to be. Often, instead of owning them, we let them own us. Instead of enjoying them, we become enslaved to them. That is what the Torah meant to teach.

Part of why Shabbat is so important is that it challenges us to step back and regain perspective on the things that we have. It helps us to remember that our possessions — even those that are most precious to us — are means and not ends. They should serve our purposes, not become our purpose. May this Shabbat, and every Shabbat, help us to remember what we really work for.

  • 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 the shul.
  • 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 10:30 to 11:00 am.
  • Minyanim during the week are on Sunday mornings at 9:30 am and on Wednesday mornings at 7 am.
  • Next Monday evening, December 3 at 7:30 pm, Rabbi Wasserman will lead a workshop for adults:  Spreading the Light: Preparing for Hanukah. All are welcome.
  • Finding Our Way, Rabbi Wasserman’s class on Jewish prayer, continues after kiddush on Shabbat afternoon December 15.
  • The New Shul’s annual Hanukah Coffee House is on Saturday night December 15 (the 8th night of Hanukah) at 7:30 pm. Join us for lots of live music and other entertainment by our own local talent. The cost is $5 per adult at the door.
  • On New Years Day, Tuesday January 1, 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.