The New Shul

Parshat Vayak’hel/Shabbat Sh’kalim

In this week’s parashah, Vayak’hel, Moshe gets the children of Israel started on the work of building the mishkan, which will become God’s dwelling place on earth. But first Moshe reminds them that they will have to interrupt their work each seventh day to rest. Moshe’s language seems a little awkward. He says:  “Uvayom ha-sh’vi’i yih’yeh lakhem kodesh” — which literally means  “On the seventh day for you shall be holy.

Why the strange formulation? If the phrase “shall be holy” refers to the seventh day, then Moshe should have said “The seventh day for you shall be holy,” not “On the seventh day for you shall be holy.”

Rabbi Hayim Yosef David Azulai interpreted the words “shall be holy” to refer, not to the seventh day, but to the words immediately before them in the sentence, namely “for you.”  On the seventh day, that which is for you shall be holy. That is, it shall be for God as well. The relaxation, the special meals, the extra time with family and community, shall be not only for your own enjoyment but for a higher purpose.

Rabbi Hayim Yosef David’s point is that, on Shabbat, taking care of our own needs is not just about our own needs. Honoring our humanity — taking the time to feel more fully human — is a way of honoring the God in whose image we are created. Restoring our own dignity as human beings reminds us of where that dignity ultimately comes from. That which is “for us” points us toward that which is greater than us.

May our enjoyment of Shabbat restore our souls, and challenge us to grow.

  • 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, March 2, we will celebrate the bat mitzvah of Emily Pertsovsky, daughter of Igor and Julia Pertsovsky. The kiddush-lunch will be sponsored by the Pertsovsky family.
  • 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 dinner at The New Shul on Friday night March 15, after the 6 pm service. The cost is $18 per adult and $9 per child under 18 (no charge for children under 5). Please make your reservations by Monday March 10. If you would like to pay on-line, you can do so here.
  • Purim begins on Wednesday night March 20. Join us at The New Shul for our megillah reading and sh’piel, beginning at 7 pm.