The New Shul

Parshat Sh’mini

In this week’s parashah, Sh’mini, Aaron and his sons begin their work as priests. Because the sacrificial service is brand new, the rules are not entirely clear. At one point, Moshe questions Aaron on a technical matter concerning an offering that he thinks Aaron has mishandled. Aaron explains his reasoning, and, the Torah tells us, “[the explanation] pleased Moshe.” Rashi comments that what pleased Moshe most was the opportunity to learn something new.

The notable thing about Moshe’s response, as Rashi interprets it, is how undefensive it is. Moshe, who single-handedly brought the Torah down from Mount Sinai, is open to learning from his brother’s differing perspective. We usually think of Moshe as the greatest of our teachers. But here Moshe models what it means to be a learner. He exemplifies Ben Zoma’s message in Pirkei Avot:  “Who is wise? One who learns from every human being.”

During this time of counting of the omer, when we recall our people’s journey to Mount Sinai, we naturally ask ourselves: What does it mean to be a community of Torah in our time? How can we come closer to Mount Sinai today?

Part of the answer is to cherish openness and curiosity, to challenge ourselves to learn from one another’s different points of view. Human beings are the conduits through which new Torah comes into the world. If we seek wisdom, we must be willing to discover Torah wherever it might be.

  • Due to Covid, The New Shul’s Shabbat morning service 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. Everyone is welcome. Please use the west parking lot and come around to the back of the school. Masks and social distancing are required (for distancing purposes, you might want to bring your own chair). During the warm weather, you might also want to bring water. Informal attire is fine.
  • The kiddush this Shabbat, April 10, is sponsored by Jeannette Kanter.
  • All other New Shul events continue online. They include: Kabbalat Shabbat on Friday afternoons (5:30 pm this Friday), Havdalah (7:45 pm this Saturday night), daily text study, and weekly classes. Please contact us for the Zoom link.