In this week’s parsha we read about the most significant event ever in world history – G-d gave us the Torah at Mount Sinai. Without the Torah, there is no Jewish people....
There are several ways that one can contribute to our shul and at the same time honor a special occasion or the memory of a loved one:
1) A day of learning the Daf Yomi: $20/day; $125/week; $500/month; $5000/year
Torah study is the best thing one can do for another person – either in their honor or memory (e.g. for a birthday or a yahrzeit). The merit of the Torah study is credited to the donor and to the person in whose honor or memory that it is learned.
2) A day of learning in our Shabbos classes: $20/class; $75/month; $750/year
3) Seuda Shlishis: $75/standard Seuda Shlishis; $125/delox Seuda Shlishis
A delox Seuda Shlishis adds lox and parve cream cheese.
4) Breakfast Club: $40/breakfast: Sunday morning after Shacharis
5) Tree of Life: $180/leaf: commemorate a special occasion such as a birthday, Bar/Bas-Mitzva, wedding or anniversary.
6) Memorial Board: $250/plaque
Thank you to Lois Cohen for sponsoring the Shabbos afternoon classes in memory of Bernie –Ben-Tzion ben Harav Avraham Ya’akov Hakohein. May his memory serve as a blessing to all of us.
Also on Shabbos Mevarchim during the Kiddush, we will be having a brief Torah session in memory of those whose yahrzeits are during the coming month. G-d willing, the next session will be on Shabbos, November 18 – Shabbos Mevarchim Kislev. If there is somebody whom you would like to remember through the Torah study or sponsor the study in that person’s name, please send an e-mail before the 18th.
We have a monthly Shabbos Mevarchim class for women in the shul from 11:50 AM-12:20 PM. The monthly class will be led by Faith Neuman and her topic is “The Rambam’s Thirteen Principles of Faith”.
In this week’s parsha we read about the most significant event ever in world history – G-d gave us the Torah at Mount Sinai. Without the Torah, there is no Jewish people. The Torah is what distinguishes the Jewish people from everybody else. We find a statement in the Talmud, “Rabbi Yosef said, if it weren’t for the Torah, there would be many Yosef’s in the market.”
Rav Yosef meant to say, that he is no different than anybody else, except for one major factor – the Torah. It is the Torah that made him special. As Rabbeinu Saadya Gaon writes, “Our nation is not a nation without the Torah.” Therefore, by simple deduction, living according to the laws of the Torah must be a priority for the Jewish people.
We do Mitzvos because we realize that G-d is the Master and we are the servants and this is what G-d wants. We do Mitzvos because we know and accept G-d’s commandments. Judaism isn’t about doing Mitzvos because I want to do them. We don’t do Mitzvos because they seem like the right thing to do . . . they seem ethical . . . they seem moral. At times, Mitzvos are inconvenient. But, we still have to do them, and with the same feeling that we want to do G-d’s will.
On a Shabbos late in January of 1986, I was in another shul. Mincha at that time of the year should be about 4:45 P.M. and Ma’ariv about 5:05 P.M. However, when announcing the times for davening during the coming week, the president said that tomorrow, Sunday, Mincha will be at 4:00 P.M. and Ma’ariv at 9:00 P.M., in order to enable people to watch the Bears play in the Super Bowl. One of the more prominent members of that shul got up and said angrily, “That’s outrageous!” And he was 100% correct. Just because the Mitzva is at an inconvenient time means that I should or can adjust it? Purim on Friday is a bad day, so I will observe it on Sunday. Can I do that? The idea is not to adjust the Torah to meet the needs of our lifestyle. Rather, it is to adjust our lifestyle to meet the needs of the Torah. That is part of realizing that G-d is the Master and we are the servants.
We also see this idea, doing Mitzvos as the will of G-d and not of our own volition, in the Ten Commandments. The Torah states, “And G-d spoke all of these words.” Rashi comments that G-d said all 10 Commandments simultaneously, which is impossible for a human being to hear or comprehend. Then, He repeated each one individually. But, what was G-d’s purpose in doing it this way, if nobody could understand it?
Rav Yosef Dov Soloveitchik zt”l explained, that it was to show that all of the commandments are from G-d. People accept “I am the L-rd your G-d” and “Don’t take G-d’s name in vain” as Divine decrees. However, some people don’t consider of Divine origin, “Don’t murder. . . Don’t commit adultery. . . Don’t steal” After all, they are very obvious. What society could survive with murder, adultery and stealing? We don’t need G-d to tell us those commandments.
Therefore, G-d said all 10 Commandments at the same time to indicate that the G-d Who tells us “Don’t take My name in vain” is the same G-d Who says, “Don’t steal”. We must know that we listen to the Torah not because we have tried other ways and it makes the most sense . . . not because it is the moral thing to do. Rather, we listen to the Torah for only one reason – G-d instructed us to do it and we are His servants. And we must do the Mitzvos as the Torah and Rabbis instruct us. We can’t just make it up on our own.
The Torah gives us rules by which we live and we must do our best to follow those rules. We all make mistakes because we are human. But, we cannot adjust the rules to our liking just because it makes us feel better. We can’t adjust the Torah to fit every fad. That is not Torah. You can call it what you want but you cannot call it Judaism! Rather, we must adjust our lives to the Torah.
G-d gave us the Torah at Mount Sinai. It is our guiding light. We must do our best to follow it in fulfillment of our national destiny to be a light unto the nations.×