The New Shul

Parshat Miketz

In this week’s parashah, Miketz, Yaakov sends his sons down to Egypt to buy grain from the chief minister of Egypt, who will later turn out to be their brother Yosef.  As Yaakov sends his sons off, he tells them to take gifts with them “m’zimrat ha-aretz, from the produce of the land,” to try to gain the favor of the Egyptian who holds their lives in his hands.

The word zimrah can also mean melody. Based on that, Rabbi Nahman of Bratslav taught that what Yaakov really meant was that his sons should take with them a melody,a niggun, from their home, as they went down to Egypt. But why? What protective power could music offer?

Music provides no physical protection, to be sure. But it can act as a vaccine for the soul, which boosts our spiritual defenses. It strengthens us by drawing out the sacred spark within us, binding us to one another, to our past, and to our deepest Source.  At times when we feel lost and vulnerable — as Yaakov’s sons must have felt as they left home for Egypt — a melody can remind us who we really are:  images of God.

That is why song plays such a central role in the religious life of our community. To share a melody during our Shabbat prayers, even at a distance and through masks, can make us stronger as we look toward the challenges of the week ahead.

  • Due to the Covid pandemic, The New Shul’s Shabbat morning service now takes place outdoors and off-site, on the grounds of the Sandpiper School, 6724 E. Hearn Rd, from 9:30 to 11:30 am on Saturday mornings. Please use the west parking lot and come around the back of the school. Everyone is welcome (for social-distancing purposes, you might want to bring your own chair). Please dress for warmth and comfort. Informal attire is fine. The kiddush this Shabbat, December 19, is sponsored by Margie Rothstein.
  • Other than our Shabbat morning service, all other New Shul events continue online. They include: Kabbalat Shabbat on Friday afternoons (4:30 pm this Friday), Havdalah (6:15 pm this Saturday night), daily text study, and weekly classes.