The New Shul

Parshat Bo

This week’s parashah, Bo, tells the story of the final plagues in Egypt, and the negotiations that went with them. After the plague of darkness, Pharaoh offered to let the children of Israel go to worship God in the desert, as Moshe had demanded. But Pharaoh set one condition: that they leave most of their flocks behind as insurance that they would come back, and take only those animals that they would need to sacrifice. Moshe answered that they needed to take all of their flocks with them because they could not know which animals they would need to sacrifice until they reached their destination.

Rabbi Menahem Mendel of Kotzk interpreted Moshe’s answer as a lesson about spiritual spontaneity. The point, he taught, is that we can never know in advance exactly how we will be called upon to serve God. Religion cannot be reduced to hard-and-fast rules. Sometimes we need to be present in the moment before we can know what is truly demanded of us.

Often we look to religion to provide air-tight answers to our questions. But the world is too complicated for that, and an authentic religious life must make room for that complexity. The purpose of religion is not to teach fixed answers, but to sensitize us to what is asked of us in any given situation. The key is to internalize as much Torah as we can, which trains our hearts to hear the still small voice of Sinai wherever we may find ourselves.

  • Candle lighting this Friday evening January 27 is at 5:36 pm. Shabbat ends on Saturday night at 6:34 pm.
  • The New Shul’s Shabbat morning service is from 9 to about 11:45 am, followed by a kiddush-lunch open to all. This Shabbat, January 28, the kiddush-lunch will be sponsored by Barry and Ronda Schnur in honor of their second wedding anniversary.
  • Minyanim during the week are on Sunday mornings at 9:30 am, and on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday evenings at 6:30 pm. Kabbalat Shabbat is on Friday evenings at 6 pm (usually at our rabbis’ home – please contact us for directions).
  • The annual meeting of The New Shul community will be on Sunday morning February 5. Join us for breakfast at 10 am, followed by the meeting at 10:30. All are welcome.