The New Shul

Parshat Hayei Sarah

In this week’s parashah, Hayei Sarah, the Torah reflects on Avraham’s life as he enters old age. It tells us that “YHWH had blessed Avraham bakol [with all].” Avraham had lacked nothing.

The Seer of Lublin taught that, when the Torah says that Avraham had been blessed “bakol [with all]” it does not mean what it appears to mean. It is not speaking of what Avraham had, but about what he was.

The same word “bakol” appears three times in the first paragraph of the Sh’ma, where it refers to inner unity: “V’ahavta et Adonai Elohekha b’khol l’vavkha u-v’khol naf-sh’kha u-v’khol m’odekha [Love YHWH your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might].The Seer taught that we should understand the word “bakol [with all]” in our parashah in the same way. When the Torah says that Avraham had been blessed bakol, it means that Avraham had been blessed with inner unity, with personal integrity.

We all have multiple identities. We have a work self and a leisure self, a public self and a private self. All day long, we move back and forth among our various selves, until we start to lose track of who we really are. But there is a single deeper self beneath our multiple identities, the tzelem elohim, the image of the divine within each one of us. At moments when we become aware of that, we too have the potential to feel whole.

We experience our tzelem elohim most intensely in moments of sacred service, moments when we transcend our own needs in response to a deeper call. In those moments, the oneness of the God whose image we bear makes us one.

May we all be blessed, as Avraham was, bakol — with an awareness of the wholeness at our core.

  • The New Shul’s Shabbat morning service is from 9 am to about 11:45 am. In accordance with the latest Covid guidance from the CDC, we require all those over the age of 2 to wear a mask while in our building. Our kiddush-lunch is outdoors, however, so masks are not required.
  • Childcare is available on Shabbat mornings from 10 am to noon.
  • The kiddush-lunch this Shabbat, October 30, is in honor of Alyssa and Gabriel Wolk-Bankier, who are moving to New Zealand next month.
  • Weekday minyanim at The New Shul are on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings at 6:30 pm, and on Sunday mornings at 9:30 am. Kabbalat Shabbat is on Friday evenings at 6 pm at our rabbis’ home (please contact us for directions).