The New Shul

Parshat Shoftim

In this week’s parashah, Shoftim, Moshe teaches: “You shall be whole (tamim) with YHWH your God” — meaning that we must not divide our loyalty.

Rabbi Levi Yitzhak of Berditchev understood the sentence differently. He interpreted the words “You shall be whole” not as a command but as a promise. The point, as Levi Yitzhak understood it, is not that we ought to be whole in our relationship to God, but that we will be whole to the extent that we let God into our lives. God’s one-ness will make us one.

We all struggle to fit the various pieces of ourselves together, to make ourselves in some sense whole. But struggling internally can never bring the peace that we are looking for, since human beings are by nature incomplete. It often seems that the more we focus on ourselves, the harder it is to escape our brokenness.

Levi Yitzhak offers a different approach. We make peace within ourselves by looking outward. We find completeness by striving to honor God and the image of God in other people, by engaging in the work of mending the world. We become whole not by perfecting ourselves but by seeing beyond ourselves.

May our work of teshuvah during this High Holiday season help us all to find the peace that we are seeking.

  • The New Shul’s Shabbat services are on Friday evenings from 6 to 7 pm, and on Saturday mornings from 9 am to 12 noon. This Shabbat, August 18, the kiddush-lunch will be sponsored by Selma Strier in honor of her 70th birthday and her daughter’s 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, and Wednesday evenings at 7 pm.
  • S’lihot is on the night of Saturday September 1. Please join us at 8:45 pm for a screening and discussion of The Women’s Balcony (Shlomit Nehama and Emil Ben-Shimon, 2016). The S’lihot service will begin at approximately 11 pm.
  • On Labor Day, Monday September 3, The New Shul community will serve meals to the hungry at St. Vincent de Paul’s Jackson St. dining room. Please let us know if you can help.