The New Shul

Parshat Yitro

In this week’s parashah, Moshe’s father in law Yitro leaves his home in Midyan to join the people of Israel after they have escaped from Egypt. The Torah tells us: “Yitro. . . heard all that God had done for Moshe and his people Israel. . .”

Rabbi Menahem Mendel of Kotzk asked why the Torah singled out Yitro as the one who heard the news, when it had previously told us “All the nations heard and were afraid.”

The Kotzker answered that, while all the others heard and were afraid, Yitro was different in that he had the courage to confront the source of his fear, to seek out the new reality that had shaken up his worldview. Instead of shrugging off the reports of a liberating God that he had never heard of, Yitro went to seek that God out.

Usually, when new realities challenge our assumptions about the world, we try to avoid dealing with them. We try to make them fit what we already know, or what we think we know. But it is only by confronting the sources of dissonance in our worldview and allowing them to change us, as Yitro did, that we can grow.

The same is true of Jewish learning. If we wish to grow from Torah, we must let it shake us up to some extent and challenge our assumptions. Only then do we, like Yitro, truly hear.

  • 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 26, will be sponsored by Cindy Mann in memory of her father Marvin Goldstein. The desserts will be sponsored by Israel and Carol Naishtut in memory of Israel’s father Isaac Naishtut.
  • 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.
  • The annual meeting of The New Shul community is on Sunday February 3 at 10:30 am. All are welcome.