The New Shul

Parshat T’tzaveh/Shabbat Zakhor

This week’s parashah, T’tzaveh, is notable because of what is missing from it. Among the many parshiyot in which God speaks to Moshe, this one is unique in that Moshe’s name is never mentioned.

An ancient midrash traces the absence of Moshe’s name to the story of the golden calf. In that story, God threatens to abandon the people because of their sin, but Moshe stands up to God and says, “If so, then erase me from the book that you have written.” In the end, God neither abandons the people nor erases Moshe’s name from the Torah. But God teaches Moshe a lesson by erasing him from this one parashah.

What is the lesson that God means to teach? According to the Siftei Kohen, it is that one should never curse oneself — i.e. offer to “erase one’s name” — even for a good cause. Just as we feel Moshe’s absence from this parashah, we feel the absence of anyone who, for whatever reason, considers him/herself expendable. A true community depends on everyone.

That is part of the message of Purim, our day of festive solidarity. When we gather together dressed in costumes, all of us a little bit ridiculous, the result is that we all stand at the same level. All hierarchies disappear. Deflating our pretensions reminds us that, in God’s eyes, no one is superior to anyone else, and that therefore we need everyone. In that way, Purim teaches the true meaning of community.

  • Candle lighting this Friday evening March 3 is at 6:08 pm. Shabbat ends on Saturday night at 7:04 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).
  • Purim begins on Monday evening March 6. Join us at The New Shul for our megillah reading and shpiel at 7 pm. On Tuesday March 7, join us for a morning minyan and a second reading of the megillah beginning at 8 am.
  • 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. Rabbi Held will teach four times during the weekend: 1) over dinner at the shul on Friday night after Kabbalat Shabbat, 2) at our Shabbat morning service, 3) on Shabbat afternoon immediately after the kiddush-lunch, and 4) at seudah shlisheet (the third Shabbat meal) at our rabbis’ home. For further information, or to register for the Friday night dinner, please contact us.