The New Shul

Parshat Shoftim

This week’s parashah, Shoftim, teaches: “Justice, justice shall you pursue.” The language is unusual. Normally the Torah teaches us what we should or should not do. Why in this case does it teach us what we should “pursue?”

In a world where good and evil are always mixed, where truth is always incomplete, and where perfect justice is unattainable, we struggle against two opposite temptations. One temptation is to imagine that we can cut through all the shades of gray, that we can know the whole truth, when in fact we can know only part of it. That is the way of arrogance.

The other temptation is to give up, to surrender to uncertainty and stop searching for the good, to stop trying to improve the world at all. That is the way of cynicism.

To pursue justice is the middle way. It means conceding that we cannot fully catch it, that the ideal remains elusive. At the same time, it means accepting the obligation to chase it nonetheless. As Rabbi Tarfon taught, we are not obligated to complete the work, but we are not free to give up on it either. That middle path, neither arrogant nor cynical, is where we find our true humanity.

  • 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 30, is sponsored by Lois Zeidman in celebration of her becoming part of The New Shul community, and by Patti Evans and Andy Gordon in honor of the naming of Patti’s granddaughter.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • On Labor Day, Monday September 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 are available to help.