The New Shul

Parshat Vayishlah

In the beginning of this week’s parashah, Vayishlah,Yaakov prepares to meet his brother Esav after twenty years of estrangement. In fear of his brother, Yaakov asks God for help. But first Yaakov  acknowledges that he does not deserve the gifts that God has already given him. He cries out, “Katonti mikol ha-hasadim — I am unworthy [literally ‘small compared to’] all the gifts. . . that you have given to your servant.”

The prefix “mi (compared to)” — in the phrase “smallcompared to all the gifts”– can also mean “from” or “of.”Hence Rabbi Yaakov Yitzhak of Lublin interpreted the phrase “small compared to” [God’s gifts] to mean that being small is of God’s gifts. Humility, the recognition of our smallness, is not only a virtue but a blessing, a gift from God.

Humility does not mean thinking negatively of ourselves. It means — in a very positive way —  seeing beyond our egos, so that we can make room for the needs of others. It is the quality that makes it possible for us not to be alone in the world, to bind ourselves to others and to God. May Shabbat, and the broader perspective that it brings, renew that blessing in our lives.

  • 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-lunch this Shabbat, December 6, is sponsored by Alan Stoff in memory of his wife Rozzi.
  • Childcare on Shabbat mornings is available from 10 am to noon. Our learning services for children this Shabbat are: for grades K to 2 from 10:30 to 11:15 am, for pre-schoolers from11:15 to 11:45 am, and for grades 3 to 5 from 10:15 to 11:30 am.
  • Minyanim during the week are on Sunday mornings at 9:30 am and Wednesday mornings at 7 am.
  • Join us this Sunday December 7 at 10:30 am, as we prepare holiday gift packages for home-bound seniors and needy families with children. The packages will be delivered by the Jewish Family and Children’s Services. Please call or email for information on what to bring.
  • On Sunday December 14 at 4 pm, The New Shul will host a lecture by Rabbi Ruth Sohn on her book Crosing Cairo. The lecture is sponsored by the Women’s Jewish Learning Center,
  • The New Shul’s annual Hanukah Coffee House is on Saturday night December 20 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 Year’s Day, Thursday 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.
  • On the Sunday of Martin Luther King Day Weekend, January 18, The New Shul will host the first day of a two-day Mussar retreat, co-sponsored by the Valley Beit Midrash. On Monday January 19, the retreat will continue at Temple Chai. Further information is available here.
  • Registration is now open for LimmudAZ, a community-wide day of Jewish learning on Sunday February 8, from 8:30 am to 5 pm. 45 presenters, from our community and from around the country, will teach on topics from “Jews and Chocolate”to “Shakespeare’s Shylock” to “Jewish Mysticism Made Simple” to “The Bible and Bruce (Springsteen).” Further information is available at