The New Shul

Parshat B’shalah

This week’s parashah, B’shalah, tells the story of our escape from Egypt. The shortest route from Egypt to the Land of Israel is straight up the Mediterranian coast, but God did not send us that way. Instead God sent us inland, the long way, through the desert. The S’fat Emet explains that we had to take the long way in order to learn patience, which we would need in the future. The process of redemption takes time.

When we are dissatisfied with our lives, it is tempting to believe that we can change ourselves in one simple breakthrough. But real transformation, if it is to last, takes place little-by-little. It requires not only energy and determination, but also patience. When we push for quick solutions to our problems, we often wind up back in Egypt, worse off than we were before. True liberation is a difficult process that defies shortcuts.

The risk of being patient, though, is that we might eventually give up and lose sight of the goal. The challenge is to strike a balance between realism and hope, to recognize that we move forward only with small steps, but still to keep the ultimate destination always in sight.

Shabbat offers a model of that balance. The ancient rabbis taught that the experience of Shabbat is a foretaste of redemption, of a far-off, future world repaired of all its brokenness. Shabbat gives us a glimpse of that promised land, even as we recognize that it is only a glimpse, that we cannot live there all week long. It reminds us that the goal, though distant, is not a fantasy. May this Shabbat, and every Shabbat, teach us to work faithfully — and patiently — to fix that which is broken.

  • Candle lighting this Friday evening February 3 is at 5:42 pm. Shabbat ends on Saturday night at 6:40 pm.
  • The New Shul’s Shabbat morning service is from 9 to about 11:45 am, followed by a kiddush-lunch open to all.
  • 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. For those who cannot attend in person but wish to follow the meeting on Zoom, contact us for the link.