The New Shul

Parshat Vay’chi

This week’s parashah, Vay’chi, begins:  “And Yaakov lived in the Land of Egypt . . .”  The commentators noted the paradox that Egypt (Mitzrayim, the constricted, narrow place) — which would become a place of death for Yaakov’s descendants  — was a place of life for Yaakov himself.   Rabbi Yitzhak Meir of Ger explained that, if one has a clear vision of reality, as Yaakov did, then one can be fully alive even in a suffocating place like Egypt.

Rabbi Yehuda Leib of Ger, Rabbi Yitzhak Meir’s grandson, expanded on his grandfather’s words. He taught that Egypt was a place of narrowness in that its vision was skin-deep.  Egyptian culture focused on the surfaces of things.  But Yaakov was spiritually alive, even in Egypt, in that he could see deeper.  He saw the sparks of holiness hidden beneath the surfaces.  He knew that God is present in everything.

Our culture, like Egypt’s, tends to focus on the superficial.  All week long, we invest our energies in the surfaces of things.  But on Shabbat, we give ourselves the space to see more deeply.  We glimpse the sparks of holiness in the people around us, in ourselves, and in the physical world.  By helping us to see those hidden sparks, Shabbat enables us, like Yaakov, to be truly alive.

  • Candle lighting this Friday evening December 29, is at 5:10 pm. Shabbat ends on Saturday night at 6:10 pm.
  • The New Shul’s Shabbat morning service is from 9 am to about 11:45 am, followed by a kiddush-lunch open to all. This Shabbat, December 30, the kiddush-lunch is sponsored by Aimee Pajic, and by Jonathan Jeger and Lauren Fox in honor of Jonathan’s birthday.
  • Minyanim during the week are on Sunday mornings at 9:30 am, and on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings at 6:30 pm at the shul. Kabbalat Shabbbat is on Friday evenings at 6 pm, usually at our rabbis’ home (please contact-us for the address)
  • Rabbi Wasserman’s class: Dare to Daven: Exploring Jewish Prayer, continues on Shabbat afternoon January 6 at 4:45 pm. The class meets at the Kanter/Wasserman home.
  • On the Shabbat of January 26-27, our guest teacher will be Rabbi Elie Kaunfer, President and CEO of the Hadar Institute in New York. Please note that Kabbalat Shabbat on January 26 will be at the shul, not at the Kanter/Wasserman home. Kabbalat Shabbat will be followed by a public Friday night dinner. The cost is $20 per adult (if you would like to register and pay online, you can do so here).