A Message from Our Rabbi
February 19, 2020

“These are the rules you shall set before them...”
[Exodus 21:1]

With these words which open this week’s parashah, Mishpatim , God begins to set out a lengthy series of rules and rituals that are supposed to govern nearly every aspect of the people’s behavior once they come to the land of Israel - from interpersonal relations to economic justice to agricultural laws to sacrifices. Coming immediately after the Ten Commandments in last week’s parashah, they may seem like an anticlimax - a long and detailed series of statutes that will occupy much of the rest of the Torah. 

American Buddhist teacher Jack Kornfeld once wrote, “After the ecstasy, the laundry.” Although the revelation at Mt. Sinai and the Ten Commandments are clearly a transformative encounter for the Jewish people, it’s not sustainable to live our entire lives at those lofty peak experiences. We need structures that can serve as containers for the insights and intentions we receive at such rare moments, to allow us to keep them present even as we inevitably return to the world and its mundane concerns. The laws of Sinai, prosaic as they may seem after the climactic encounter with God, are vital and precious tools for bringing holiness into the everyday world. For Jews, mitzvot provide practices and rituals that allow us to permeate our daily lives with meaning and locate the extraordinary latent within every encounter.

This Friday evening , our Erev Shabbat service begins in the Sanctuary at 8:00 pm.

Shabbat mor ning , I will be leading Torah study beginning at 9:00 am, followed at 10:30 am by Spice Up Your Judaism led by Mark Pinzur. Our S habbat morning service also begins at 10:30 am, in the Sanctuary, during which we will celebrate the Bat Mitzvah of Phoebe Bellagamba.


Rabbi Joshua Waxman