The New Shul

Parshat T’tzaveh/Shabbat Zakhor

This week’s parashah, T’tzaveh, is notable because of what is missing from it. Among the many parshiyot in which God speaks to Moshe, this one is unique in that Moshe’s name is never mentioned.

An ancient midrash traces the absence of Moshe’s name to the story of the golden calf. In that story, God threatens to abandon the people because of their sin, but Moshe stands up to God and says, “If so, then erase me from the book that you have written.” In the end, God neither abandons the people nor erases Moshe’s name from the Torah. But God teaches Moshe a lesson by erasing him from this one parashah.

But what is the lesson that God means to teach? According to the Siftei Kohen, it is that one should never curse oneself — i.e. offer to “erase one’s name” — even for a good cause. Just as we feel Moshe’s absence from this parashah, we feel the absence of anyone who, for whatever reason, considers him/herself expendable. A true community depends on everyone.

That is part of the message of Purim, our day of festive solidarity. When we gather together dressed in costumes, all of us a little bit ridiculous, the result is that we all stand at the same level. All hierarchies disappear. Deflating our pretensions once a year reminds us that we are all equally important, and that therefore we need everyone. In that way, Purim teaches us what it means to be a sacred community.

  • 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 24, the kiddush-lunch is sponsored by Deena Davis and Matt Golab in honor of their upcoming wedding.
  • Childcare is available from 10 am to noon on Shabbat mornings.
  • 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 Monday February 26 at 7 pm, The New Shul 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. The Megillah will be read again on Thursday morning, beginning at 7 am.
  • Please note that there will be no e-bulletin for the next three weeks. The bulletin will resume on Thursday March 22.