The New Shul

Parshat B’shalah

This week’s parashah, B’shalah, tells the story of our escape from Egypt. The shortest route from Egypt to the Land of Israel is straight up the Mediterranian coast, but God did not send us that way. Instead God sent us inland, the long way, through the desert. The S’fat Emet explains that we had to take the long way in order to learn patience, which we would need in the future. The process of redemption takes time.

When we are dissatisfied with our lives, it is tempting to believe that we can change ourselves in one simple breakthrough. But real transformation, if it is to last, takes place little-by-little. It requires not only energy and determination, but also patience. When we push for quick solutions to our problems, we often wind up back in Egypt, worse off than we were before. True liberation is a difficult process that defies shortcuts.

The risk of being patient, though, is that we might eventually give up and lose sight of the goal. The challenge is to strike a balance between realism and hope, to recognize that we move forward only with small steps, but still to keep the ultimate destination always in sight.

Shabbat offers a model of that balance. The ancient rabbis taught that the experience of Shabbat is a foretaste of redemption, of a far-off, future world repaired of all its brokenness. Shabbat gives us a glimpse of that promised land, even as we recognize that it is only a glimpse, that we cannot live there all week long. It reminds us that the goal, though distant, is not a fantasy. May this Shabbat, and every Shabbat, teach us to work faithfully — and patiently — to fix that which is broken.

  • 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. The kiddush-lunch this Shabbat, January 19, will be sponsored by the shul.
  • Childcare is available on Shabbat mornings from 10 am to noon.
  • Minyanim during the week are on Sunday mornings at 9:30 am, and on Monday through Thursday evenings at 7 pm.
  • Join us for Friday night dinner at The New Shul on January 25, after the 6 pm service. The dinner will be catered by Stacy Andrews and members of The New Shul kiddush team. The cost is $18 per adult, and $9 per child under 18 (no charge for children under 5). Please send in your payment by Sunday January 20 to make your reservation. If you wish to pay on-line, you can do so here (please specify what it is for).
  • The annual meeting of The New Shul community is on Sunday February 3 at 10:30 am. All are welcome.