The New Shul

Parshat Ha’azinu/Shabbat Shuvah

In this week’s parashah, Ha’azinu, Moshe declares to the children of Israel: “[the Torah] is not an empty thing for you (mikem). . . rather, it is your life.”  The word “mikem,” which we translate as  “for you,” more literally means “from you.”

Rabbi Akiba interpreted that unexpected preposition to mean that, if the Torah seems empty to us, its emptiness must be from us. In other words, the text is not the problem. The problem is our own failure to make meaning of it. If the Torah seems irrelevant, it is because we are not working hard enough to uncover its message for us in this moment.  On the other hand, if we dare to struggle with its words, to search for deeper meaning in them, the text can be “our life.”

Living in unprecedented times, we may be tempted to throw aside all precedents, to assume that the old must be irrelevant. But it is precisely at these times that we are most in need of guidance from the past. The key is to listen deeply, with an open heart and a creative mind, to what the past can teach us, even if it upends our assumptions. If we do so, Torah may become our life again.

In the coming year, as new challenges throw us off balance, may our commitment to keep struggling with the past help us to find our way to a better future.

  • The New Shul’s Zoom Kabbalat Shabbat this Friday September 25 is at 5:15 pm.Please contact us for the link.
  • Our Zoom Kol Nidrei on Erev Yom Kippur, Sunday September 27, is at 5:00 pm, and will include Rabbi Kanter’s Yom Kippur drashah. Please contact us for the link.
  • Complete information on our services and programs for Yom Kippur is available here.
  • Please note that there will be no e-bulletin for the next two weeks. Watch for our next bulletin on October 15.