The New Shul

Parshat Sh’mini

In this week’s parashah, Sh’mini, Aaron and his sons begin their work as priests. Because the sacrificial service is brand new, the rules are not entirely clear. At one point, Moshe questions Aaron on a technical matter concerning an offering that he thinks Aaron has mishandled. Aaron explains his reasoning, and, the Torah tells us, “[the explanation] pleased Moshe.” Rashi comments that what pleased Moshe most was the opportunity to learn something new.

The notable thing about Moshe’s response, as Rashi interprets it, is how undefensive it is. Moshe, who single-handedly brought the Torah down from Mount Sinai, is open to learning from his brother without embarrassment.

We usually think of Moshe as the greatest of our teachers. But here Moshe models what it means to be a learner. More broadly, this passage challenges us to think about the kind of environment that supports learning. If we want to grow in wisdom and understanding, we need to create a community that cherishes questions, a community in which no-one needs to feel embarrassed by what they do not know, in which all of us can learn from one another without defensiveness.

May our shul always be that kind of place.

  • 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. This Shabbat, April 22, we will celebrate the upcoming marriage of Reed Scharff and Bettina Shore. The kiddush-lunch is sponsored by Jody Cohen Gordon and Marc Gordon, and by Gail and Milton Scharff.
  • 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 Shabbat morning April 29, we will celebrate the (2nd) bar mitzvah of Bernie Fleischer.
  • Join us for Israeli dancing workshops at The New Shul on Wednesday May 3 at 10:30 am, and on Wednesday May 10 at 7:30 pm.
  • On Monday night May 8 at 7 pm, The New Shul will host a lecture by Rabbi Yehudah Gilad on “The Ten Commandments : The Nexus Between Religion and Ethics.” The lecture is co-sponsored by Valley Beit Midrash.