The New Shul

Parshat Mishpatim/Shabbat Sh’kalim

In this week’s parashah, Mishpatim, the children of Israel accept the Torah by declaring “Na’aseh v’nishma — We will do and we will hear [or understand].”

Rabbi Menahem Mendel of Kotzk explained the phrase in this way:  Throughout history, the greatest thinkers have tried to understand God intellectually, but they could comprehend only what the human mind is capable of grasping. The way of mitzvah is different. To do a sacred deed is to find God not in abstract thought but in concrete action. It is to comprehend, by doing, what the mind alone cannot. Hence “We will do and we will understand.”

Why is action able to take us to a higher level of understanding than thought alone? Because action involves the whole self, body and heart as well as mind. The more of ourselves we invest, the higher we rise.

We verify the Kotzker’s point through our experience. Thinking is important. We do not wish to be uncritical followers. But through sacred action, we experience the meaning of holiness in a way that we cannot through thought alone. May the life of mitzvah that we build together help us to achieve that deeper understanding.

  • 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, February 10, the kiddush-lunch is sponsored by Fay and Aubrey Palestrant.
  • 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.
  • On Thursday February 22 at 7 pm, The New Shul will host a lecture by Dr. Rachel Tzvia Back: “The Woman’s Voice in Modern Hebrew Poetry.” On Monday February 26 at 7 pm, we will host a lecture by Rabbi Sharon Cohen Anisfeld: “Mi Yodea: Humility and Hope in an Uncertain World.” Both lectures are co-sponsored by Valley Beit Midrash.
  • Erev Purim is Wednesday evening February 28. Please join us at 7 pm for the reading of the Megillah and our Purim shpiel.