THE GOOD SHABBOS COMMUNITY

ENJOYING YOUR JEWISH HERITAGE THROUGH FOOD, FACTS AND FUN - SHABBAT SHALOM

 

 CHALLAH, WINE,  CANDLES , READ A LITTLE, TALK A LITTLE AND SING

TO ACT OR NOT TO ACT BLOG HOME WHY ABOUT US WHO FOR CONTACT WHERE LINKS FOOD FOR SHABBOS SHARING WHAT WE DO EACH SHABBOS SHABBOS LIGHT WEEKLY CONTENT SONGS - THE MUSIC
 

The Children of Israel Get the Laws of Cleanliness  

 

a.k.a. Parashat Tazria (Leviticus 12: 1 – 13: 59) 

 

God ordered Moses to instruct the people about the required rituals regarding the birth of a male child. The mother is to be considered unclean for seven days. On the eighth day the boy’s foreskin is to be circumcised. The mother is to be in state of purification for 33 days and must not come into contact with any holy thing or holy place.

 

If a mother gives birth to a girl, she remains unclean for two weeks and is in a state of purification for 66 days. At the end of this period she must bring a lamb or a young pigeon or turtledove to the door of the Tent of Meeting so the priest can make an offering for her.

 

God then instructed Moses and Aaron about what should happen when a person develops a rash or swelling of the skin, or if the skin becomes burnt or discolored. Such a physical impediment has to be reported to Aaron or one of his sons. The priest summoned has to examine the skin to see if it is leprous and then either pronounce the person clean or unclean.

 

If the person is unclean, he must be shut inside for seven days. If after seven days the disease has not spread, then the person shall be confined for seven days more. If, after that, the diseased spot has grown paler and the disease has not spread, then the priest can pronounce the person clean.

 

However, if the eruption spreads and some skin is raw, then the priest will pronounce him unclean with leprosy.

 

The person with leprosy has to identify himself in clearcut ways – his clothes have to be torn, his hair must hang loose, his upper lip covered and he has to shout, “Unclean! Unclean!” as he goes.

 

The leper is considered unclean as long as he has the disease. The leper has to live outside the camp.

 

Clothes touched by leprosy have to be examined by the priest to see if they are clean or unclean. Clothes that can be cleaned must be washed until they are fully clean. If they can’t be cleaned, they must be burnt.

 

Commentary on the 27th parsha (portion of the Torah). The Torah consists of the five books of Moses, the first part of the Old Testament. 

 

To get to grips with this parsha, our Supermaven, Sigmund Albert Spinoza, interviews Methuselah Solomon (an Ancient Elder). Supermaven is a modern philosopher who is trying to understand Judaism and how we got where we are.

 

He will do this every week by investigating the Old Testament.

 

SAS: Well, I understand that circumcision is a symbol of the covenant between Jews and God. I think it’s painful and unnecessary, but since it is the essential part of Jewish identity, I know I cannot ask or argue about that. I think it’s barbaric though.

MS: You understand nothing about circumcision. Apart from being our most solemn covenant with God, it is also a way of ensuring that men are easily able to cleanse themselves and stave off diseases.

SAS: It’s all about this obsession with cleanliness and holiness. Let’s assume that circumcision is actually healthier for men and for the women with whom they have sex; it still doesn’t explain why God has decreed that women who have given birth to boys are unclean for 33 days, and even worse, if they have given birth to girls that they are unclean for double that time. How do you explain this? I thought giving birth was supposed to be wonderful. Why is the poor mother decreed to be unclean for a month or more? And why does giving birth to girls make you twice as unclean? There’s something deeply fearful about body fluids and body functions in your belief system. It’s ritual rubbish if you ask me.

MS: Well, I didn’t ask you, because I don’t think you understand any of it. Women need to be cleansed of the experience of childbirth. It is traumatic, both emotionally and physically. The ritual to bring them back into the fold of the community is a meaningful and beautiful one.

SAS: Go tell that to women who are made to feel dirty, and who are excluded by law, on the basis of their biological natures. Producing new members of the tribe, and then being sent into quarantine? How can you justify this?

MS: Sigmund, you fail to understand the purpose of ritual, and its overall function in regulating the health and wellbeing of the community. We must have rules that everyone accepts and abides by. It is in the interest of all parties to define what is unclean, in order to avoid contamination, and to make clean again that which can be made clean.

SAS: Now, how about leprosy, eh? Not enough that one has this terrible disease, one has to identify oneself by shouting, “Unclean! Unclean!” That must give you a good feeling about yourself. You’re exiled to outside the camp, too.

MS: Let’s talk about context, shall we? What would you have advised the leaders to do about people with leprosy in their midst? Just embrace them and all die?

SAS: I think that we Jews are always obsessed with who’s in and who’s out. We should be called the “choosing” people, not the “chosen people”.

MS: This is a matter of containing the spread of disease, warning people to keep away from those who could infect them. It’s not about choosing who’s in and who’s out.

SAS: The fact that this document remains as evidence of how these leaders behaved should be of historical interest only. I shiver to think that in modern times we would treat people with diseases in this fashion.

MS: Don’t you understand that the idea is to stop infection from spreading? Cleanliness is the way to do this.

SAS: We are made of earth, apparently, according to your scriptures. That’s our nature. We are not pure and clean. Why should we be ashamed of who we are? Is this not simply a way of controlling the community?

MS: Sometimes communities need to be controlled. Just like conversations. I’ve work to do.

SAS: Back to the control tower, Methuselah?  I’ll be seeing you, my friend.

 

 

History 

 

The Parsha we have just read comes from the five books of Moses, the Torah. The dialogues between Sigmund Albert Spinoza and Methuselah Solomon are about the meaning of the Parsha.

 

What we know about Jewish History, however, is based in fact, and on historical records. 

 

If you’d like to know more about the real history of our extended Jewish family, read on.

 

 

The Rise of Secularism

 

Around the 17th century the idea took hold that one could be a good Jew even if one was not a religious Jew. This idea did not come in time to save Baruch Spinoza (1632-1677) from excommunication in the Netherlands. Once the Enlightenment had taken hold in late 18th century Europe, however, religious belief and affiliation came to seem less important than before. European societies took on more secular hues.

 

Spinoza extolled the virtues of free inquiry, rationality and a historicist approach to the bible. He also challenged the claims of “revealed religion”, and rejected the idea of a transcendent God. Spinoza was a pantheist and believed that divinity was everywhere. Although Spinoza’s thought paved the way for secularism, it is not itself secularist.

 

Secularism is a philosophy based on the view that the sacred realm is either non-existent, or too removed from the material world to have any relevance. It is concerned with human projects and life here on earth. According to the secularist, religion does not, or should not, play a decisive role in this world. Secularists may be deeply antithetical towards religion, or they may see religion as a private matter that need not be encouraged or discouraged.

 

Jewish secularism is based on the conviction that the Jewish identity must be preserved and revered, but within a this-worldly context. Secular Jews have no intention of ever being assimilated into the culture of the nations in which they find themselves.

 

Going hand in hand with this view is the perception that Jewish people constitute an identifiable ethnic and culture group. This view became entrenched among Yiddish-speaking Jews of Eastern Europe who viewed themselves as “a people” irrespective of their religious traditions and beliefs.

 

Since most Jews would continue to live in the Diaspora, the idea was that they were united not by geographical proximity, religious faith or political unification, but by a shared culture.

 

The Jewish Labor Bund in Russian and Poland pushed hard to unite Jews through the promotion of Yiddish culture. This socialist organization was highly influential among working-class Jews in the late 19th century and early 20th century. Chaim Zhitlovsky, Simon Dubnow and Ahad Ha’am promoted a secular, culturally based Judaism. The ideal of Jewish self-reliance in the Diaspora became known as Jewish Autonomism.

 

Zhitlovsky came to America in 1908 and argued vigorously against assimilation and he lobbied for a unified identity around Yiddish as the symbol of Jewish identity. This agenda did not last, partly because of the power and ubiquity of the English language, which overrode Yiddish while also swallowing up some of its terminology.

 

Finally and decisively, the Holocaust destroyed the original Yiddish-speaking communities, so it was Hitler who indirectly destroyed the viability of a Yiddish-based Judaism in the Diaspora.

 

Secular Judaism has been closely allied to Jewish Humanism, the doctrine that Judaism’s history is human-centered, and that reason – not faith – should lead the way as Jews face their ethical responsibilities within their communities and the world.

 

 

Here follows a discussion on this historical segment by the Father, Chaya and Ben. 

 

CHAYA: So, in fact, being a Jew, according to these ideas, has nothing to do with believing in God, or the Bible or any of these sacred texts.

DAD: Well, there are many people, not only Jews, who think that our actions in the world define us, not our allegiance to beloved precepts or traditional rituals.

BEN: Does that mean that if we choose to be secularist we should discard our traditional rituals and the precepts by which we live?

DAD: Not necessarily. A lot of people enjoy traditional rituals – getting together on a Friday night, for instance, is something we all enjoy.

CHAYA: So what’s the point of being Jewish then? If we abandon the rituals and the beliefs, what’s left?

BEN: There’s a whole lot of Jewish history and culture that is very important to me – with or without God and the Bible. I care about the history of my people, I feel part of this group and I want it to survive and continue.

CHAYA: Yes, but what’s the group you feel part of? What distinguishes it from other groups and other people?

DAD: For one thing, many secular Jews believe that reason, not faith, should aid us in our ethical judgments as we build our Jewish communities. Part of the story also involves humanism.

BEN: What’s that?

DAD: Humanism is the belief that humans, not God, determine what happens on earth; peace and justice, if they occur, will be brought about by human endeavor.

CHAYA: I understand all that, but I don’t understand why we can’t do all this and not consider ourselves to be Jews.

DAD: Well, I think it’s a complicated issue and there’s more to it than what we’ve discussed.  We also need to think about nationalism and how that all plays out with ideas of secularism and humanism. We’ll talk about that as soon as we can.

 

Here follows a discussion on this historical segment by Dad, Chaya and Ben. 

 

Sayings 

 

Every Shabbat we read five short sayings that express, with typically Jewish wit and humour, insightful reflections on this life of ours.

 

Here are tonight’s sayings:

 

·        The Jew who can’t be a cobbler dreams of becoming a professor.

·        No Jew, however learned and pious, may consider himself one whit better than a fellow Jew, however ignorant or irreligious. (Simcha Bunim)

·        If you live long enough, you’ll see everything

·        If you come too close to fire, you get burnt; if you stray too far, you’ll be cold; the art is to find the right distance (Mekilta on Jethro)

·        One father manages to support ten children; but ten children don’t seem to be able to support one father.

 

Celebration of Great Lives 

 

Every Friday night we celebrate the achievements of our Jewish family in contributing to changing the world for the better and having an extraordinary impact on those around them.

Andre-Gustave Citroen (1878-1935) 

Born in Paris, Citroen was accepted for the Ecole Polytechnique after graduating from his Lycee with the highest marks in France! The engineer noticed, while travelling in Poland, some wooden gearwheels lying outside a workshop. He studied their double-helix form and, in 1904, opened a small workshop with two friends where they produced double-helical gearwheels. Success with this business resulted in the Mors car company inviting Citroen to assist them. During World War 1 he was responsible for the mass production of armaments. After the war, in 1919, he founded the Citroen automobile company. By the early 1930s it had become the fourth-largest automobile manufacturer in the world. The company’s success was based on technical originality and highly efficient mass production methods. His company’s greatest success was the TS series of front-wheel drive cars with a body chassis based on a sheet steel platform. This innovative design was initially a failure, but became highly popular. Citroen is celebrated for his make of car, with the Citroen brand still in operation today. He is also remembered for adapting double helical gears for use in motor cars.  

Leonid Bernstein 

 

Leonid Bernstein was born in the Ukraine and studied at a special artillery-training academy. He became a legendary soldier and patriot. His allegiance to Judaism is less evident and he has been accused of anti-Semitic sentiment, evidenced by statements like, “Jews don’t know how to fight”. He did, however, say, “The fact that I am a Jew actually helped me to a certain extent; I knew I had to prove myself better, to be better than the rest.” In May 1941, Lieutenant Bernstein was sent to the border near the region of Przemysl where his group defended an outpost courageously while pinned down by the enemy. When ordered to retreat they set out land mines and left. He formed the first nucleus of the local underground organization, engaging mainly in sabotage.  He blew up two trainloads of Germans and equipment and subsequently became head of the partisan detachment’s sabotage and espionage unit. Following an unsuccessful attempt to plant a land mine at the Shevchenko railway station, he was captured but escaped and rejoined his comrades. In May 1944, Bernstein parachuted into a POW camp near the town of Sanok. Many of the camp inmates joined Bernstein’s unit, increasing its ranks to nearly 400. In September the unit participated in the Slovakian revolt against the Germans, after which Bernstein managed to rejoin the Soviet army. After the war, Bernstein was awarded the Order of the Red Banner, and received the Order of the Patriotic War four times, as well as military decorations from Poland and Czechoslovakia. He was made an honorary citizen of four Polish cities and two cities in Czechoslovakia.

 

Song 

 

We will now sing a traditional song to conclude our Shabbat celebration. You have a copy of the words, so please join in as we sing.

 

The song is sung

 

Farewell and an Invitation

 

Thank you for coming together to share our Shabbat. May you go out into the new week with renewed strength, confidence and happiness.

 

We now cordially invite you to join us for some coffee and cake.

 

HOW TO SING THE SONGS
ADON OLAM WORDS
Adon Olam David Solid Gould & The Temple Rockers
ALL MEN ARE BROTHERS
ALLE BRUDER SONG
ALLE BRIDER SONG
AL KOL ELEH WORDS
AL KOL ELEH
BASHANA words
BASHANA SONG
BEI MIR BIST DU SHEYN
BEI MIR BIST DU SCHEYN SONG
BMBDS song
CHIRIBIM WORDS
CHIRIBIM Song
DAYENU WORDS
DAYENU SONG ENGLISH
DAYENU SONG
DONNA DONNA
DONNA DONNA SONG
HALLELUYA
HALELUJA KARAOKE
HATIKVA
HATIKVA SONG
HATIKVA SONG
DAYENU
HATIKVA WORDS
HATIKVA SONG 1
HAVA NAGILA WORDS
HAVA NAGILA SONG
HAVA NAGILA KARAOKE
HAVEINU SHALOM ALEICHEM
HEVENU SHALOM ALEICHEM WORDS
HEVENU SHALOM ALECHEM SONG
HINEH MA TOV WORDS
JERUSALEM THE GOLD WORDS
JERUSALEM THE GOLD KARAOKE IVRIT
JERUSALEM THE GOLD SONG
JERUSALEM THE GOLD JARAOKE
MAYIM MAYIM WORDS
MAYIM MAYIM DANCE
OIF'N PRIPITSCHOK song
OSE SHALOM
OSE SHALOM SONG
PAPI ROS'N
PAPIROS'N SONG
PARTISAN SONG 1
PARTISAN SONG
PARTISAN SONG MUSIC
RABBI ELIMELEKH
RABBI ELIMELEKH SONG
AS DER REBE SINGT
AS DER REBBE SINGT LEONARD COHEN
AS DER REBBE SINGT SONG
RAISINS WITH ALMONDS WORDS
SIMANTOV U MAZELTOV WORDS
SIMAN TOV MUSIC
MAZELTOV CLARINET
TUMBALALAIKA WORDS
TUMBALALAIKA MUSIC
TUMBALALAIKA MUSIC
TZENA TZENA
TZENA TZENA
TZENA TZENA 4
TZENA TZENA The Weavers
TZENA TZENA WORDS
ALLE BRIDER KLEZMATICS
ALLE BRIDER KLEZMATICS
HATIKVA STREISAND
HATIKVA STREISAND
BIM BAM SHABBAT SHALOM FOR KIDS
BIM BAM SHABBAT SHALOM FOR KIDS
YO EN ESTANDO - SEPHARDIC
ELIYAHU SEPHARDIC
SEPHARDIC SONG
SEPHARDIC SONG 3
Sholem Aleichem Susan Allen
Shalom Aleichem Susan Allen
OTHER VERSIONS OF SONGS
DUVID CROCKET WORDS
DUVID CROCKET MICKEY KATZ
MODERN PASSOVER SONGS
This will help you find yourself]