6/18/2015

Shabbat Korach

Friday Evening 19th June Candles 8:10pm
Havdalah 20th 9:05pm

Several times when Moses is challenged in the Torah and he fears for his life, the text says “Vayipol Al Panav” “And he fell on his face.” What does this mean? Does it really literally mean he fell flat on his face? That must have hurt and we are commanded not to hurt ourselves. I don’t think we are meant to take it literally. It could mean to bow down in an act of submission. In which case it would be what we call Nefillat Apayim when we bow our heads on to our arms when we say Tachanun, prayers for forgiveness during normal weekday prayers. Or when on Yom Kippur we bow down to God. We don’t actually fall on our faces. But our heads are bowed in submission.

So did Moses fall on his face before God as a way of saying “I have failed you?”

Perhaps he was submitting to his accusers, something that seems very unlikely.

The first time it is used in the Torah is the case of Cain who killed his brother. When his sacrifice was not accepted it says “His face fell.” In other words his face betrayed his inner feelings. He was angry, insulted, disappointed and it showed.

Our faces really do betray us. A clever face reader can tell a huge amount about a person from his or her facial expressions. That's one of the tricks magicians, gypsy palm readers, even kabbalists use! I have often heard the expression “You should only see your face now.” We blush, blink or twitch. We have what card players call a “tell.” It takes a great deal of discipline to control our facial expressions which most of us do not have.

So what Moses was showing, was how angry he was at these stupid, arrogant, ungrateful self-serving rebels and perhaps also his fear that God might, as he threatened, destroy those who attacked his messenger on earth.

6/04/2015

Shabbat Beha’alotecha

Candles Friday June 6th at 8:05pm
Havdalah June 7th at 9:00pm

We are delighted to announce that Pej and Michele Barlavi will be naming their baby daughter Milla with us this coming Shabbat. Dr & Mrs Ray Youssefyeh, uncle and aunt, will be hosting a special Kiddush in honor of the occasion.

We have reached the part of the Torah that deals with the time the Children of Israel spent in the Sinai Desert. It was a place we know today to be largely barren with occasional water holes and oases. It cannot have been easy for anyone.

And so its only natural that people were under pressure, stress, strain and deprivation and began to complain instead of counting their blessings. After all that's what we do nowadays all the time.

But complaints fall into several categories, genuine complaints, altogether dishonest complaints and badly framed or inappropriate complaints. We see them all in this weeks reading.

Yitro, Moses’s father in law is constructive. He analyses the situation. He sees that Moses has not organized his administration effectively and so he gives him constructive advice.

The people then complain about the food they are getting. They are not starving, they just do not like it. But in saying how wonderful it was in Egypt we know they are being dishonest. They are distorting reality to suit their polemic.

Miriam and Aaron have what they believe is a legitimate complaint against Moses though there are different interpretations as to exactly what it was. But the punishment comes because of the way in which their objections were made public. It was the manner of the complaint that was wrong.

This is a challenge to us all today. We may see something we think is wrong or that we are unhappy about at home or at work. We have to find the right way of airing it, the sensitive and tactful approach rather than being provocative and aggressive.