Shabbat Naso

Candles Friday May 29th 8pm
Havdalah May 30th 8:55pm

This week’s reading from the Torah includes the most famous blessing in Judaism. It is the blessing that priests gave the Children of Israel in the Temple. And today it is the one remaining public priestly ritual (as opposed to the custom of calling priests and levites to the Torah first). It is the blessing that the Cohanim give every day in some communities and on festivals in others.

It is the blessing that parents give their children in Friday Nights. And increasingly it is the blessing given to the bride and groom before marriage.

“May God bless you protect you. May God shine light upon you and be kind to you. May look favorably upon you and give you peace.”

It is a beautiful, universal wish. The priest is not giving the blessing. God is. The priest is just the vehicle.

The text has God saying “This is how you will bless the people of Israel... You will use My Name, for I am blessing them.”

What do we mean by “ blessing”? When we use the word it means that we wish you well and want the best for you. It is the ultimate expression of love and concern. Similarly with God it is an expression of a caring and involved relationship.

And yet it is so sad that for all the thousands of years it has been recited, we, as a people, have not had and we still do not have peace. We are still surrounded by those who wish to destroy us.

History proceeds slowly but inexorably. Humans have been evolving for millions of years. A thousand years is just a blink of an eye. One day it will come to pass.


Shabbat Bamidbar

Candles Friday 22nd 7:53pm

Festival of Shavuot
Begins and light Candles Saturday 23rd at 8:49pm

Sunday 24th 1st Day Shavuot
Service 9:30am

Monday 25th 2nd Day Shavuot
Service 9:30am
Festival ends 8:50pm

We start reading the book of Bamidbar, named after the wilderness where we were formed into a people. The desert seems barren but it isn’t if you look beyond the superficial. Its silence has been the cradle of spirituality in contrast to the bustle and noise of cities.

Shavuot ( Saturday Night) is both a harvest festival and the anniversary of the revelation on Mount Sinai when the Torah became the constitution of the Children of Israel.

It combines the importance of the physical, material world we live in, that we rely on and have responsibility for. It also reminds us that without a moral code and spiritual dimension our lives cannot be complete.

Torah values the ability to appreciate quiet, silence in which we can nurture our souls before venturing out into the busy, selfish material world that also need to survive. Silence is where we can go to recharge our batteries! The desert is where one can be completely alone. But one needs to come back into community and civilization.

The festival reminds us of another world. Another experience and another soul.