The New Shul

Parshat Yitro

In this week’s parashah, Moshe’s father in law Yitro leaves his home in Midyan to join the people of Israel after they have escaped from Egypt. The Torah tells us: “Yitro. . . heard all that God had done for Moshe and his people Israel. . .”

Rabbi Menahem Mendel of Kotzk asked why the Torah singled out Yitro as the one who heard the news, when it had previously told us “All the nations heard and were afraid.”

The Kotzker answered that, while all the others heard and were afraid, Yitro was different in that he had the courage to confront the source of his fear, to seek out the new reality that had shaken up his worldview. Instead of shrugging off the reports of a liberating God that he had never heard of, Yitro went to seek that God out.

Usually, when new realities challenge our assumptions about the world, we try to avoid dealing with them. We try to make them fit what we already know, or what we think we know. But it is only by confronting the sources of dissonance in our worldview and allowing them to change us, as Yitro did, that we can grow.

The same is true of Jewish learning. If we wish to grow from Torah, we must let it shake us up to some extent and challenge our assumptions. Only then do we, like Yitro, truly hear.

  • Candle lighting this Friday evening February 10 is at 5:49 pm. Shabbat ends on Saturday night at 6:46 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, February 11, the kiddush-lunch is sponsored by Alex and CiCi Dashe.
  • 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).
  • Purim begins on Monday evening March 6. Join us at The New Shul for our megillah reading and shpiel at 7 pm.
  • On the Shabbat of March 17-18, our guest teacher will be Rabbi Shai Held, President and Dean of the Hadar Institute in New York.