The New Shul

Parshat Hayei Sarah

In this week’s parashah, Hayei Sarah, the Torah reflects on Avraham’s life and tells us that “YHWH had blessed Avraham bakol [with all].” Avraham had lacked nothing.

The Seer of Lublin taught that, when the Torah says that Avraham had been blessed “bakol [with all]” it actually means something different. The same word “bakol” appears three times in the first paragraph of the Sh’ma, where it refers to inner unity: “V’ahavta et Adonai Elohekha b’khol l’vavkha u-v’khol naf-sh’kha u-v’kholm’odekha [Love YHWH your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might].” The Seer taught that we should understand the word “bakol [with all]” in our parashah in the same way. When the Torah says that Avraham had been blessed bakol, it means that Avraham had been blessed with an inner sense of unity.

We all have multiple identities. We have a work self and a leisure self, a public self and a private self. All day long, we move back and forth among our various selves, until we start to lose track of who we really are. But there is a single deeper self beneath our multiple identities, the tzelem elohim, the image of the divine within each one of us. At moments when we become aware of that, we too have the potential to feel whole. We experience our tzelem elohimmost intensely in moments of sacred service, moments when we transcend our own needs in response to a deeper call. In those moments, the oneness of the God whose image we bear makes us one.

May we all be blessed, as Avraham was, bakol — with an awareness of the wholeness at our core.

  • 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, November 11, the kiddush-lunch will be sponsored by Stacy and John Andrews, and by Stacy’s parents Audrey and Spencer Albert, in memory of Stacy’s grandmother Ila Dias and in honor of Stacy and John’s daughter Becca Andrews becoming a Doctor of Physical Therapy.
  • 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.
  • Rabbi Wasserman’s class on the teachings of the early Hasidic masters meets on Monday evenings at 7:30 pm. All are welcome. Our men’s class on the parashah of the week resumes on Sunday evening November 12 at 7 pm at a private home (contact us for details).