A New Month and a New Year
At Touro Synagogue
March 27-28, 2020
Thanks to Rabbi Marc Mandel
Earlier this week we celebrated the first day of the month of Nissan. In Jewish life there are several first months of the year. Nisan was the first month in Assyria, and when Israel was under Assyria influence, it followed Assyria’s calendar.
Rabbi Marc Mandel, of Newport’s Touro Synagogue sent a message about Shabbat,
“This Shabbat, we find ourselves in a pattern of newness. A new book is beginning in the Torah, the Book of Leviticus. And we are in the new month of Nisan. At this time, we also find ourselves in a new experience, one that we did not anticipate. But we should learn from the Jewish calendar that, just as the calendar teaches us to start new, and find hope in new challenges, so too, should we find hope and inspiration for a better future, as we deal with the current crisis. The month of Nisan is the month of redemption and let us hope and pray that we will see the Redemption of the entire world from the current situation.”
At our pre-shabbat learning and prayer meeting we had at least 21 sign-ins, representing about twenty-three people.Among them was Naomi Kabak who lives in New York. Rabbi Mandel spoke of our concern with the current situation in New York.
Rabbi Mandel discussed the first sentence of Leviticus:
וַיִּקְרָ֖א אֶל־מֹשֶׁ֑ה וַיְדַבֵּ֤ר יְהוָה֙ אֵלָ֔יו מֵאֹ֥הֶל מוֹעֵ֖ד לֵאמֹֽר׃
The LORD called to Moses and spoke to him from the Tent of Meeting, saying:
In the Torah, the aleph that concludes the first word is written smaller than the other letters. One commentator said, “When Moses wrote the Torah down, he made the aleph smaller out of modesty. This changes the word to be less formal and more general. Moses was modest, and didn’t want to stand out by having God call directly to him.” Another commentary said that God was specifically calling Moses, and did not include Aaron, who was included on a previous occasion.
Rabbi Mandel mentioned that there was a lot of discussion about the cloud that God was in, and drolly told us that being in the cloud was not new! I know I have my head in the cloud most of the time.
There was commentary on the last word in the phrase, “saying (lemor).” This could be read as two words, “Lo amor!” meaning “Do not say!” This makes the word a double entendre. When someone tells you something, it is private unless the speaker gives permission to repeat it. This is a way of recognizing that some matters are confidential, including both personal and business information. In the context of the Torah, when God wanted Moses to relay a message to the children of Israel, he would make it clear, as he did in verse 2 of Leviticus,
דַּבֵּ֞ר אֶל־בְּנֵ֤י יִשְׂרָאֵל֙ וְאָמַרְתָּ֣ אֲלֵהֶ֔ם אָדָ֗ם
Speak to the Israelite people, and say to them:
After our Friday evening learning, we sang excerpts from the Psalm and Lecha Dodi. Rabbi Mandel discussed Lecha Dodi with a friend, and decided that although it welcomes Shabbat, Shabbat starts with the next reading, the Psalm for Shabbat.
During our new situation we meet online instead of in person. Congregation Jeshuat Israel sponsors several opportunities to meet, Next week we will have three opportunities in addition to Friday pre-shabbat. For information email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
CJI Virtual Program Schedule For Next Week.
Monday, March 30 at 7:30pm
A Virtual Tour of Jamestown with Delia Klingbeil.
Delia Klingbeil lives in Jamestown with her husband Ralph.
She is an amateur photographer, and also serves as the secretary
of the Jamestown Historical Society.
Tuesday, March 31 at 7:30pm
Reuniting Families Through Genealogy With Aaron Ginsburg
Aaron has 25 years of experience in genealogical research. He has spoken before the Jewish Genealogical Society of Greater Boston, at the annual convention of the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies, and before Jewish groups in the United States and Ukraine. He has helped several clients with their genealogical journeys and created a shtetl community to help restore a Jewish cemetery in Belarus.
Wednesday, April 1 at 7:30pm
Virtual Torah Class With Rabbi Mandel
Passover and the Bible