The New Shul

Parshat Toldot

In this week’s parashah, Toldot, the Torah tells us that Yaakov and his brother Esav contended with each other even before they were born, to their mother’s great distress. “The sons struggled inside her. She exclaimed ‘If so, why do I exist?’ And she went to seek out YHWH.”

Rivka’s words “Why do I exist?” sound more like a cry of pain than like an actual question. But Rabbi Efrayim of Sudlikov heard those words as a real question, not a rhetorical one. He understood Rivka to be asking God to help her recover a sense of purpose — a “Why?” — for her life. Due to the struggle within her, she had lost her sense of what life was about, and needed help restoring her perspective.

We all have conflicts wtihin us, which can cause us to lose focus. At those times we need help to remember what matters most in life, what makes life worth the struggle. Regaining perspective does not make the struggles go away, but it can help to make them manageable, and even turn them into a source of growth.

Shabbat can help us with that. Shabbat does not solve our problems, but it helps us to remember what makes struggling with those problems worth it. By giving us space to get our values and priorities back in order, it helps us find the strength to confront our challenges anew. May this Shabbat, and every Shabbat, help us to remember why we live.

  • 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 18, the kiddush-lunch will be sponsored by Ruth Silon and Alan Stoff.
  • 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.
  • Please note that there will be no e-bulletin next week because of Thanksgiving. The bulletin will resume on Thursday November 30.