Rabbi Howard Finkelstein
Chazan Yair Subar
President Howard Nadler ~~~~~~~~~~~ Parashat Va’etchanan/Shabbat NachamuMincha & Kabbalat Shabbat: 7:00 pm
Candle Lighting: 8:07 pm
Shabbat Ends: 9:14 pm
Sefer Torah Sponsor: Elaine & Marten Brodsky
Shabbat in the Park will be at Charing Park this Shabbat from 3:30 – 5:00 pm.
The walking group will meet at 4:00 pm.
From the Rabbi’s Desk – Parashat Va’etchanan:
This past week, a number of emails among rabbis of the Rabbinical Council of America dealt with the historical tragedy of the conversion of the son of the great rabbi, Rabbenu Gershom, to Christianity, and how the family and especially the rabbi himself had to deal with that act. What sprouts forth from this event of some one thousand years ago, is that even in the best of religious homes, there is no guarantee that the children necessarily follow in their parents’ ways. In recent times, there seems to be great admiration and adulation in the secular Jewish media of those who have abandoned the Hasidic way of life. Articles abound in singing the praises of those who have discarded Judaism, and lead a more cosmopolitan way of life.
A fascinating statement by Rashi on the opening lines of the Shema brings us some perspective on the issues we have outlined in the opening paragraph of this article. Rashi comments that one who follows the word of G-d out of love is far superior to one who fulfills the commandments out of fear. The one who simply observes on the basis of fear abandons observance at the first opportune moment.
While the above may appear to be a simplistic understanding of the mindsets of individuals who abandon Judaism, it nevertheless serves as an indicator of what motivates people to follow a different pathway of life. While it is true that each person is a unique individual, there is no doubt that people are influenced by their environment and by others. The inspirational instructor, or the boring teacher, consciously or unconsciously, influence their charges. We all can think of someone who inspired us, and we can think of those who completely turned us off in terms of their presentations and their ideas.
The same applies in the area of Jewish Education, where the instructor has the power to make or break Jewish students through either positive or negative examples or remarks. Especially in an age of instant information and gratification, teachers must develop new techniques and methods to reach their students. It is not simply enough to rely on the inculcation of text. The challenge of presenting the beauty of that which is being studied is paramount and ever present. The end part of the Shema dealing with the responsibility of the parent or teacher to instruct the child remains the litmus test by which it will be determined if that child remains within the Jewish orbit years later.
We will never understand what motivated the child of the Luminary of the Exile, Rabbenu Gershom of Mayence, to convert, but we must do our share as parents, grandparents and educators to deliver the lesson of Torah through love by personal example and by instruction. The fear factor is detrimental to our continued survival as a people.
ONGOING CLASSES OFFERED BY RABBI FINKELSTEIN:Everyone is welcome at no charge.
GEMARA: Wednesday evenings after Maâ€™ariv. Please check calendar in case of shifting.
SHABBAT CLASSES: Parsha and Halacha class between Mincha and Maâ€™ariv.
Donations: * General Donations: $18
* Siddurim: Koren/Artscroll $50
* Koren Talmud Bavli: $100
* Wall of Honour/brick: $118