The New Shul

Parshat Yitro

The fourth of the Ten Commandments, which we read in this week’s parashah, begins: “Six days you shall labor and do all of your work, but the seventh day is Shabbat for YHWH your God.” The authors of an ancient midrash on that passage focused on the word “all.” They asked, how is it possible to do all of our work in six days? Isn’t there always more to do? What did the Torah mean, then, when it said that we should finish all of our work before Shabbat?

What the Torah meant, according to the authors of the midrash, is that we should rest on Shabbat as if all of our work were done.

On the surface, that answer seems strange. Were the rabbis asking us to turn Shabbat into a game of make-believe, to act as if something were true when it really is not?

But there is another possibility. Perhaps what they meant is that, on Shabbat, we are to look at the world in a different way —  not to deny reality, but to pay attention to a different aspect of it. We are to focus not on the things that are lacking in the world but on the things that are already whole and complete, the blessings that already fill it. Instead of looking with anxiety at everything that is unfinished, we are to look with gratefulness at the gift of Gods creation, which no amount of human effort could improve on. If we do that, then we will feel as if our work is done.

On this Shabbat, and every Shabbat, may we aspire to that kind of rest.

  • 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, February 18, is sponsored by Stacy Andrews and her parents Audrey and Spencer Albert, in memory of Stacy’s grandmother Ila Dias.
  • Childcare is available from 10 am to noon on Shabbat mornings. Our learning service for grades K to 4 is from 11 to 11:40 am.
  • Minyanim during the week are on Sunday mornings at 9:30 am, Monday evenings at 7 pm, Wednesday mornings at 7 am, and Wednesday evenings at 7 pm.
  • On Presidents’ Day, Monday February 20, 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.
  • Purim begins on Saturday night March 11. Join us for our megillah reading and shpiel beginning at 7:30 pm.