The New Shul

Parshat B’midbar

Parshat B’midbar (“In the desert”) is usually read – as it is this year – on the Shabbat before Shavuot, the holiday that commemorates the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai. Why was the Torah given in the desert? According to the sages of the Talmud, it was to teach us that, before we can receive the Torah in our own lives, we must make ourselves hefker (ownerless) like the desert.

What did the sages mean when they spoke of making ourselves ownerless? Much of the time, we live under the illusion that we own our destiny, that we are masters of our fate. We inflate our power because it makes us feel secure. But that illusion leaves no room for any larger presence in our lives.

On the other hand, at moments when we give up that illusion  – or when circumstances force us to – we sense that we are not in this world for ourselves alone. We find space within ourselves to hear a greater call.

Shabbat is a day of letting go. In putting aside our work, we give up some of our sense of control and ownership, and make space in our lives for something larger. In that sense, every Shabbat is a Shabbat B’midbar, a Shabbat of the desert. It is a day of making room to hear a greater voice.

  • The New Shul is closed for now due to the Covid-19 crisis. In the mean time, all are welcome to join us for our on-line classes and  events. To participate in any of the events below, please use this link:
  • In lieu of daily minyanim, join us for on-line study of Pirkei Avot, on Sunday mornings at 9:30 am, and on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings at 6:30 pm.
  • On Fridays before Shabbat, join us online for some songs from Kabbalat Shabbat and a drashah on the parashah of the week. All are welcome. Please note that, this Friday, May 22, the time will be 5:45 pm.
  • Join us for virtual havdalah on Saturday nights. This Saturday May 23, the time will be 8:15 pm.
  • Join us online for pre-Shavuot study and disccussion on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings May 26 and 27. On Tuesday evening at 7 pm, Rabbi Kanter will teach stories from rabbinic literature on the life of Rabbi Akiva. On Wednesday evening at 7 pm, Rabbi Wasserman will teach midrashim about the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai.
  • Shavuot begins next Thursday evening, May 28. Please note that there will be no on-line Kabbalat Shabbat/Drashah on Friday night May 29 because of the holiday.
  • Our on-line Talmud class meets on Mondays at 5 pm, and our on-line Parashah-of-the-Week class meets on Tuesdays at 11 am.