The New Shul

Parshat Re’eh

This week’s parashah, Re’eh, begins:  “See, I place before you today a blessing and a curse. . . ” The grammar of the Hebrew is confusing in that “see (re’eh)” is singular, and“before you (lif’neikhem)” is plural. Moshe switches in mid-sentence from addressing us in the singular to addressing us in the plural. Why?

Rabbi Menahem Mendel of Kotzk explained that “see” is addressed to each of us individually because, when we look at our lives, we each see different things. Our experiences differ. Our particular successes and failures are unique. But“I have placed before you” is addressed to all of us collectively because, in the end, we all have the same choice to make. Regardless of who we are, we all must choose to take the opportunities that we are given to make our lives a blessing  — or not. As different as we are, we all share the same freedom, and are faced with the same underlying decision.

We grow  by acknowledging our differences. But we also grow by recognizing that, in some basic ways, we are all the same. The core challenge of being human, no matter who we are, is to own up to our freedom, to take responsibility for our choices.

This Shabbat we will announce the new month of Elul, the month of teshuvah, which begins next week. The challenge of this season is exactly what the Kotzker Rebbe spoke of — to acknowledge that we all have the ability to make our lives a blessing if we choose to. Perhaps the recognition that we all share that same challenge will help us find the strength to meet it, as we make our way toward the new year.

  • 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 Bud and Carol Sunshine.
  • Childcare is available from 10 am to 12 noon on Shabbat mornings.
  • Minyanim during the week are on Sunday mornings at 9:30 am and on Wednesday mornings at 7 am.
  • On Monday September 2, Labor Day, 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 are available to help.
  • Rosh Hashanah begins on Wednesday evening September 4. You can find complete information on The New Shul’s High Holiday services here.