The New Shul

Parshat Re’eh

In this week’s parashah, Re’eh, Moshe begins: “See, I place before you today a blessing and a curse:  the blessing, that you listen to the mitzvot of YHWH your God. . . and the curse, if you do not listen  . . . “

The S’fat Emet noted the asymetry of the two clauses. Concerning the blessing, Moshe says “that you listen,” but concerning the curse he says “if you do not listen. The positive is “that,” and the negative is merely “if.” Moshe seems to have more confidence that we will listen than that we won’t.

Rabbi Yehoshua ben Perahya taught in Pirkei Avot: “When you judge people, tip the balance in their favor.” Always give people the benefit of the doubt. That seems to be the principle that Moshe models for us here.

When our world is strained almost to the breaking point by cultural and political conflict, it is easy to think the worst of those with whom we disagree, to assume that their hearts have grown irredemably hard. But if we hope to play any role at all in healing the world, we must begin by seeing the humanity of those on the other side of the divide. We must recognize that they too are images of God, and grant them the benefit of the doubt. If dialogue is ever to be possible, it is there that it must start.

As we look toward the new year, may we never give up our faith in the possibility of healing.

  • The New Shul is closed for now due to the Covid-19 crisis. In the mean time, all are welcome to participate in our on-line classes and  events, including Kabbalat Shabbat on Friday afternoons, Havdalah on Saturday nights, daily Mishnah study in lieu of kaddish, and weekday classes on the parashah of the week and topics from the Talmud. Please contact us for further information and the Zoom link.
  • On Thursday September 3 at 9 am, our community will celebrate the bar mitzvah of Benjamin Karp. The minyan will be strictly limited in number due to the pandemic, but all are welcome to participate by Zoom. Contact us for the link.
  • For a schedule of our programs and events on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, please see our website.