The New Shul

Parshat Mishpatim

In this week’s parashah, Mishpatim, the children of Israel accept the Torah by declaring “Na’aseh v’nishma — We will do and we will hear [or understand].”

Rabbi Menahem Mendel of Kotzk explained the phrase in this way:  Throughout history, the greatest thinkers have tried to understand God intellectually, but they could comprehend only what the human mind is capable of grasping. The way of mitzvah is different. To do a sacred deed is to find God, not in abstract thought, but in concrete action. It is to comprehend, by doing, what the mind alone cannot. Hence “We will do and [as a result] we will understand.”

Why is action able to take us to a higher level of understanding than thought alone? Because action involves the whole self, body and heart, as well as mind. And meaning is about the whole self too. The more of ourselves we invest in Torah, the more we get it.

The Kotzker’s point was not that we should follow the Torah mindlessly. He himself was one of our most critical thinkers and persistent questioners. What he meant is that the mind alone is not enough. We cannot ultimately understand the Torah’s meaning from a distance. To truly hear, we have to do.

Together, may we build a life of mitzvah, and of meaning.

  • 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, so masks are not required.
  • This Shabbat morning, January 29, we will celebrate the bat mitzvah of Bella Ross, daughter of Michael and Shaindel Ross.The kiddush-lunch will be sponsored by the Ross family.
  • 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).