This has been a very important few weeks in Jewish time. In our
Torah reading cycle, God freed us from slavery, began to lead us through the desert to the
Promised Land, and gave us the Torah at Mount Sinai. With these milestone events, we began
to become a community, coming together around shared experiences, values, and aspirations
for the future.
What kind of community did we begin to form? We get a hint of this
with an important phrase that the People of Israel uttered in the process of receiving the
Torah: כֹּ֛ל אֲשֶׁר־דִּבֶּ֥ר יְהֹוָ֖ה נַֽעֲשֶׂ֥ה וְנִשְׁמָֽע- “all that God said we will do and we will hear”.
This is an unusual phrase. What does it mean to do what God commands
before hearing what God commands? One meaning is that the Jewish people were so enthusiastic
and committed to being in relationship with God that they were willing to fulfill whatever
God requested from them in the future (Shabbat 88a-b). Another is that the Jewish people
were willing to obey God’s commandments without knowing what the reward would be
(Sforno on Exodus 24:7). Yet another is that through doing God’s commandment, we will be
drawn into their meaning and joy at an ever-deepening level; as we learn in Sefer HaChinuch,
“The heart follows the actions a person does” (Mitzvah 16).
The kind of community that we began to form at Sinai is one that
says “naaseh v’nishma”. It is a community of individuals who are so willing to invest in
the lives of others that they commit to working on behalf of the community before they
even know the task. It is a community of people who give of themselves without concern
for what they will get out of their contributions to the community. And they are a community
of people who because of their wholehearted service, have come to understand its deep
I have been honored to work alongside so many leaders and members
of the Temple Tifereth Israel community who say “naaseh v’nishma” day in day out, who
give so much of themselves to this community with grace, humility, and selflessness.
It is because of all of you that our community is growing and thriving, and we are all
May we blessed to continue to the work of building a supportive,
connected, and giving community.
Note that, in March, Mimi will again lead the increasingly popular Erev Shabbat Friday
evening family service on 8 march, starting at 6:30 pm and followed by a pot luck dinner -
NO MEAT DISHES, PLEASE! She will lead the Saturday morning service on 16 March and
will also lead the Sunday morning service on 24 March, followed by the ever-popular Purim
Carnival at 10:00 am. - Purim costumes and make-up encouraged. Mimi will do the
Megillah Esther reading on Wednesday evening, 20 March at 6:30 pm - come and make lots of noise
at the mention of Haman' name.
Learning How to Scribe a Torah
Temple Tifereth Israel of Winthrop maintains one of only a very
few Hebrew Schools
on the North Shore. At our Hebrew School, our students are taught to read and write Hebrew,
introduced to Jewish history and customs, prepared for their Bar and Bat Mitzvahs, and acquainted
with the history and current goings-on in and around the land of our ancestors, Eretz Yisrael.
But, all is not simply study. Our Hebrew School also provides the opportunity for our students
to socialize and engage in interesting and fun activities related to Judaism.
Recently, the students in Morah (Teacher) Esther Kaufman's class experienced
firsthand the ancient process still used in modern times by a Sofer (Scribe) in writing a Torah.
Using feathers and ink, each student practiced writing their Hebrew name. The finished products
were glued onto wooden hearts and stars, decorated, and made into magnets. The pictures below are
from this class.