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DVAR TORAH
 
Parshat Behar deals almost exclusively with the laws of shemita and yovel. The final two verses of the parsha, however, appear to have nothing to do with this topic. The verse states,"You shall not make idols for yourselves, or set up for yourselves carved images or pillars, or place figured stones in your land upon which to bow, for I the L-rd am your G-d. You shall keep My Shabbatot and venerate My Mikdash - I am the Lord." (26:1-2)
 
It is puzzling how these laws fit into this context. What do these laws - idolatry, forbidden images, Shabbat and the Temple - have to do with the laws of shmitah and Yovel?  

The Medrash in the Torat Kohanim explains that these verses refer to the situation described several verses earlier, of a Jew who was compelled by financial straits to sell himself into the service of a gentile. The Torah here warns the servant not to forsake his tradition despite his current residence in a pagan home. He must not adopt the ritual practices of his master, neither the idolatrous beliefs nor the mode of worship, which involved all types of monuments, statutes, mosaics, and the like.

The Seforno explains that a Jew in foreign servitude might have thought to no longer observe the Shabbat. After all, Shabbat is about freedom; our emancipation from the shackles of the workweek and the opportunity to rest and engage in loftier pursuits. The Jewish servant might have therefore concluded that this mitzva does not apply to a servant, who is currently denied his freedom. The Torah reminds the servant that he, too, must continue observing the Shabbat, even when subjected to foreign rule. As for the mitzva to "venerate My Sanctuary," the Seforno boldly suggests that "Mikdash" here refers not to the Temple, but rather to the sacred institutions built in exile - the synagogues and study halls. Despite the absence of the Bet Ha-mikdash and our subjugation to foreign rulers, we may not undermine the sanctity of our holy institutions.  
 
Chazal famously comment (Megilla 29a) that the Batei Kenesset and Batei Midrash built and sustained in exile constitute a "Mikdash me'at," a minor Temple, and they are to some extent infused with the sanctity of the Bet Ha-mikdash.

The establishment of houses of worship and religious study such as Hillel Academy, and a commitment to make these institutions a national priority, help ensure our ongoing awareness of G-d's continued presence in our midst.

Shabbat Shalom
 
Rabbi Weinberg, Principal



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IDENTIFY THE BABY!
Week Five


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LOX

 
This week, the good folks in the Resource Room (I'm looking at you, Katie Erskine and Kim Davidson) were pondering the word "lox," as in the delicious smoked salmon you have with your bagels and cream cheese. Don't try to argue with me; lox is delicious, and anyone who doesn't think so is wrong. Just plain wrong. In particular, they were considering the odd fact that the word "lox" is one of those tricky words which are both singular and plural at the same time (like the word "fish.") This lead to the following question: if you want to buy some lox from the supermarket, but have no idea where it is located, do you ask "Where IS the lox?" or "Where ARE the lox?" And because you are a polite, well-raised person, you would naturally add "Excuse me, but please can you tell me," and "Thank you" to your question. Well, this point was argued hotly over lunch by several grammar-conscious groups of people, including the Seventh Grade Girls and people who congregate in the lobby. There is no right answer, but the TERRIBLY IMPORTANT POLL produced some definitive results: most people opt to say "IS." Most people, however, are not the irrepressible Mrs. Wimer, who claims she'd simply avoid the issue by asking "Where the lox be at?" Which is why Mrs. Wimer teachers almost every subject at Hillel Academy but English. We love her. (Seriously - she does EVERYTHING.) Some people we asked tried to avoid the question by saying they'd never ask for lox in the first place because a) they already know where it is located, and b) they don't like it (as previously mentioned, these people are WRONG), and others tried to be sly and pretend they heard the word "locks," as in keys, dams, and hair. Cute, but you cannot evade the Terribly Important Poll.
 
After some sleuthing, it was discovered that the word "lox," while Yiddish in origin, is, in English, a quasi-pseudoplural. No, I did not just sneeze, I said QUASI -PSEUDOPLURAL. (English has the BEST grammar terms.) A quasi-pseudoplural has something to do with words whose pronunciation features both a Z and an S, and are therefore spelled with an X. (English has the BEST rules. It's like the entire language is playing a prank on its speakers, don't you think?) If this was a regular, boring, Latinate derivative ending in an X - vortex, say - then the rule for plurals would be easy: you'd just make it a C, as in vortices. Words ending in X have always proved challenging. In France, a lot of words are spelled with an X at the end if they are plurals. Like gateau(one yummy cake), and gateaux(many yummy cakes). 
 
Lox. It's more than a fish. It's a quasi-pseudoplural. (Also delicious.)

ANNOUNCEMENTS







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Did you know the Bnot Sheirut have their own Facebook page? It's filled with lots of pictures and videos! Check it out at:  www.facebook.com/PittsburghBanot

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When you  #StartWithaSmile , Amazon donates 0.5% of the purchase price to Hillel Academy of Pittsburgh. Bookmark the link and support us every time you shop.  https://smile.amazon.com/ch/25-1067130   



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At Hillel Academy of Pittsburgh, we educate young men and women with unlimited capacity who compete in a superior manner in all challenges undertaken. Our students are Torah observant models of exemplary character, who love G-d, the Jewish people, and the land of Israel. To say that our students possess a love of learning, confidence and the ability to think critically, merely highlights the value of a Hillel education. What we ultimately achieve each day, and have been achieving for 70 years, is the gift of instilling each student with the foundation for a life spent actively serving and leading the Jewish community and society.


Micki Myers, Editor | Hillel Happenings | 412 521-8131 | hillelhappenings@hillelpgh.org |www. hillelpgh.org