Chavarah- Jewish Community Learning

A blog of Jewish study and traditions. Notes from classes: Torah Study with Rabbi Marder, Toledot and Shabbaton as well as other details found of interest.

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Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Read It Again And Again

Last week Rabbi Citrin led an energetic session on Deuteronomy 31: 10-16

There were two ideas of focus – one was the commandment to read “this” every seven years. Why 7 years was a significant point? It was noted that the seventh year may have coincided with the sabbatical year of rest for the land making it easier for an extended pilgrimage. Every seven years would assure that all generations would hear the message. “Repetition is reinforcement.”

Since now we read Torah every year there was some question about when it changed from every seven years to every year. And now since everyone reads it at the same pace it is still ‘theoretical’ that we gather as a single community even in the Diaspora to hear Torah.

The reading out loud to everyone also insured that everyone had an opportunity to know the commandments and that is important for the greater community and all generations.

Then we moved on to discuss this statement that says that the Israelites will ‘go astray’. Does that mean that we are set up for failure? Is it High Expectations for the Unattainable? OR a Statement of Reality?

There were many hands in the air at the end of the hour so it is certain to be part of the topic this week.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

He's 120

Rabbi Citrin led the discussion again this week starting a new chapter: Deuteronomy 31:1-6 but we focused mostly on Moses as a 120 year old man still in good health (Eyes undimmed) but “no longer active”. He had to hand over responsibility for leadership to the next generation. He was setting Joshua up for success!

Of course there were many tangents and twists in the discussion. As always a focus on specific words: Is it that Moses “finished” speaking or that Moses “went”? And what does “active” mean here?

And we also touched on the ethical dilemma they face by going into the new land and taking their place there by force. I wonder how this differs from the situation when modern Israel was founded. The political significance, similarities and differences are worthy of discussion.

And then there was the special message from Rabbi Marder “Be Strong and of Good Courage”.

Of course that set off more talk about words and meanings as another translation uses the word “resolute” rather than “courage”. How do these words differ in interpretation?

“May you live to 120” (as if you were 20) - an appropriate saying for this part of the Book.

Books Referenced this week:
Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Emil Frankl

"The Lemon Tree" by Sandy Tolan
Disturbing book and reflection on the Middle East suggested

Sunday, July 01, 2007

How To Choose? What is Success?

Rabbi Citrin led Torah study last week and we focused on Chapter 30:20 – the end of this parasha tells us HOW to “choose life” but it also brings a lot of question to us without clear answers.

How do we “love God”?
What does that mean?
What, How or Who is to determine if we are doing it ‘right’?

My gleaning from the week was the question of “how do we know if we succeeded?”

Does this just focus on us as a community or also on us as individuals?

IF 'individuals' then it brings up that nagging question of why bad things happens to good people.

IF 'community' then there is the question of what our community really looks like now and where is it going.

One point of view is that we still exist and that is an indicator of success.
(Jess suggested we look at the phone book and see how many of those names are still listed!)

Another point of view relates to the land and how Israel fits into the picture and answer of success.

And then there is the question of peaceful existence and a ‘repaired’ world that we are still working on and have a long way to go. Sometimes feels like for each three steps forward we take two backward and sometimes more.