The New Shul

Parshat Ekev

In this week’s parashah, Ekev, Moshe recalls that, years earlier, after the sin of the golden calf, God called him to climb Mount Sinai a second time. God said to him, “Carve[p’sol] for yourself two tablets of stone like the first ones, which you shattered.”

The word p’sol, “carve,” comes from the same root as the word pesel, which means “idol” (i.e. a carved god), as if to hint that even sacred tablets can become an idol. Even Torah, if misused, can be divisive and destructive.

Rabbi Yisrael of Ruzhin explained how we can make sure that our tablets do not become idols. Concerning the tablets, God said, “Carve for yourself.” In the order of the sentence, the carving comes first, and yourself is secondary. In the commandment against idolatry, on the other hand, God said “You shall not make for yourself a carving.” Yourself comes first, and the carving is secondary.

That is the difference. To carve tablets for God is to make our ego secondary to the work that must be done. To carve an idol is to place our ego first.

May the Torah that we learn, and that we live, bring blessing to the world by pointing us beyond ourselves.

  • 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, August 16, is sponsored by Linda Enger and Lionel Hummel in honor of their tenth wedding anniversary.
  • 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 Wednesday mornings at 7 am.
  • Next Shabbat, August 23, and on Sunday morning August 24 at 10:30 am, our guest teacher will be Rabbi David Jaffe, the founder of the Kirva Institute in Boston, and a noted teacher of Mussar (ethical/spiritual development). All are welcome to join us as we learn from him.
  • The New Shul is collecting food donations for “Just Three Things,” to help young adults who have aged out of the foster care system. Please bring packaged items that are either ready-to-eat or require only microwave preparation. Contact usto arrange a drop-off time.