The New Shul

Parshat Re’eh

At the beginning of this week’s parashah, Re’eh, Moshe declares to the community of Israel: “See, I place before you today a blessing and a curse. . .”  In the Hebrew, the grammar of the sentence is inconsistent. “See (re’eh)” is singular, and “before you (lif’neikhem)” is plural. Moshe switches in mid-sentence from addressing each Israelite individually to addressing the whole community collectively. Why?

Rabbi Menahem Mendel of Kotzk explained that “see” is addressed to each of us individually because, when we look at our lives, we each see different things. Our experiences differ. Our successes, failures and challenges are unique. We are called upon to grow in different ways. But “I have placed before you”  is addressed to all of us collectively because, at the most basic level, we all have the same choice to make. Will we take responsibility for our lives or not? Will we own the freedom that we have been given — will we choose to choose —  or not? As different as we are, we all have same the same decision to make.

We grow by acknowledging our differences. But we also grow by recognizing that, in fundamental ways, we are all the same. The core challenge of being human, no matter who we are, is to acknowledge our freedom, to take responsibilty for our choices.

This Shabbat, we will announce the coming of the new month of Elul, the month of teshuvah, which begins next week. The challenge of this season is exactly what the Kotzker Rebbe spoke of — to acknowledge that we all have the ability to grow and change. Perhaps the recognition that we all share that same challenge will help us to find more strength to meet it, as we make our way toward the new year.

  • Candle lighting this Friday evening August 11, is at 7:00 pm. Shabbat ends on Saturday night at 7:57 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, August 12, the kiddush-lunch is sponsored by Al and Barbara Beitchman in honor of their 63rd wedding anniversary.
  • Weekday minyanim at The New Shul are on Sunday mornings at 9:30 am, and on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings at 6:30 pm.
  • During the month of Elul, Rabbi Wasserman will teach a four-session class on hasidic teachings on teshuvah. Further details are available here.
  • Information on our services for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur is available here.