It’s all about giving thanks
At Touro Synagogue
November 24, 2018
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I hope you enjoyed a full plate on Thanksgiving. I was grateful to be with my sister, Beth Levine, and with friends and family. The plates were my mother’s. Does anyone recognize the dish’s pattern?
A long weekend is always big deal. During Shabbat at Touro Synagogue we were joined by several regular Thanksgiving visitors and itinerant members including David Jolley, who took a break from his musical duties. Was our davening a little more tuneful because of David’s presence?
A group of young women came from the NY area for the weekend (their rental was a long walk from the shul). Professor Ronald Birke, who teaches Chemistry and Biochemistry at CUNY (The City University of New York) joined us with his family. His sons stood during his aliyah.
We were also joined by a former dean at Yeshiva University, Rabbi Dr. Michael Hecht. Rabbi Marc Mandel is one of Rabbi Hecht’s students. I told Marc Ladin that at the end of the service I was going to ask Rabbi Hecht if Rabbi Mandel was a good student. Marc is not one to beat around the bush. He walked over to the Rabbi and asked! Rabbi Hecht was joined by his family, including his son-in-law, Aaron J. Koller who teaches Near Eastern and Jewish Studies at Yeshiva University.
Rabbi Mandel introduced the visitors, and incorporated them into his sermon. He held up a book by Rabbi Hecht, Have You Ever Asked Yourself These Questions? A Guide to Traditional Jewish Thought, which he had studied carefully, “It is a book that deals with important questions about the interplay of Judaism with science and faith.”
Torah Umadda תּוֹרָה וּמַדָּע, Torah and Science, is the motto of Yeshiva University. According to Rabbi Norman Lamm, "Torah, faith, religious learning on one side and Madda, science, worldly knowledge on the other, together offer us a more over-arching and truer vision than either one set alone. Each set gives one view of the Creator as well as of His creation, and the other a different perspective that may not agree at all with the first ... Each alone is true, but only partially true; both together present the possibility of a larger truth.” That sounds good, but the devil is in the details!
Rabbi Mandel attended Rabbi Hecht’s Talmud class, which covered the third perek of Bava Batra, and in the following year the second perek of Kiddushin.
Rabbi Mandel noted that in the parsha, Jacob thanked the Holy One for blessings that he was not expecting, and that Jacob was severely wounded when he fought with the angel, but carried on. The Rabbi concluded by saying, “In our life journey, we need to be thankful to our mentors.”
We also need to be thankful to our cooks!
Shabbat Shalom from Jewish Newport!