The New Shul

Parshat Re’eh/Rosh Hodesh Elul

In this week’s parashah, Re’eh, Moses teaches about the mitzvah of pilgrimage: “. . . You shall seek out [God’s] dwelling place and go there.” This mitzvah applied, as long as the Temple in Jerusalem stood, to each of the three major festivals of the Jewish year.

The words “and go there” seem to be redundant.Doesn’t seeking out God’s dwelling place, by definition, mean going there? To resolve that problem, Rabbi Moshe ben Hayim Alshekhinterpreted “and [you shall] go there” as a promise, not a command. He explained that Moses meant to teach that, if we truly seek God’s dwelling place, then we are sure to go there, because it is precisely in our longing to meet God that God is manifest. No matter how inaccessible we imagine God’s dwelling place to be, it is as near as our own yearning. Our recognition of our incompleteness opens our hearts to what was there all along.

What separates us from God is not doubt but complacency, not our difficulty believing but our sense of self-sufficiency. As the Kotzker Rebbe taught, God is present wherever we make room for God to be. When we truly seek God’s dwelling place, we discover that we are already there.

  • 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 31, the kiddush-lunch will be sponsored by Allison Levine. The desserts will be sponsored by Esperanza Andujar in celebration of the 26th anniversary of her conversion to Judaism.
  • Childcare is available on Shabbat mornings from 10 am to noon.
  • Minyanim during the week are on Sunday mornings at 9:30 am, and Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings at 7 pm.