The New Shul

Parshat Ki Tavo

This week’s parashah, Ki Tavo, describes the ritual of bikkurim, the offering of first fruits, as it was practiced in ancient Israel. Each spring, farmers from across the land would bring their first fruits to the Temple in Jerusalem. As they presented their offerings to the priests, they would recite a fixed declaration of thanksgiving. The final words of the declaration were: “. . . And now I have brought the first fruits of the land, which YHWH has given me.”

The final phrase “which YHWH has given me” refers back to something in the first part of the sentence. But what? Which gift was the farmer specifically acknowledging – the fruits or the land? The Nahalat K’dumim suggested a third possibility: that the phrase refers back to the very first words of the sentence “And now I have brought.” What God had given him was the ability to bring his gift. The blessing that he was most grateful for was the privilege of giving.

The point that Nahalat K’dumim was making is that our lives feel fullest when we give to others. When we ask “How can I make my life more meaningful?”, what we are really asking is: “What do I have to give? What difference can I make in the world?” 

Answering that question is the essence of our work on the Days of Awe. At this time of year, we turn inward so that we can more joyfully turn outward. We search our souls so that we can more clearly hear what God is calling on us to give – to our family, our community and the world. As we do so, we discover that that clarity is God’s gift to us.

  • 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, September 9, the kiddush-lunch is sponsored by Shelly and Arnie Silverman and by Myrna Weinstein and Larry Goldstein in honor of Jacob and Marla Berger, who are moving to Oregon next month.
  • Childcare is available from 10 am to noon on Shabbat mornings. Our learning service for children is from 11 to 11:45 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.
  • Fall classes for adults have started, but it’s not too late to join them. Our new men’s group meets on Sunday evenings at 7 pm at a private home (contact us for the location). Our class on the teachings of the early Hasidic masters meets on Monday evenings at 7:30 pm at the shul. Our adult Hebrew class meets on Wednesday evenings at 7:30 pm at the shul. Please see our websitefor a full  schedule of adult classes.
  • Please note the change in time for our S’lihot program on Saturday night September 16. Join us at 8 pm for a screening and discussion of the film “Is That You?” by Dani Menin. The program will be followed by the S’lihot service at 10 pm.