Isaac Feldman was the star of his Bar Mitzvah on Saturday the 13th of Tishri for Shabbat Ha-azinu held at Trelissick Gardens. His leyning of the Torah portion and handling of the Haftarah was done with consummate skill and in the most melodic voice. Both he, Harvey Kurzfield our chair and who tutored Isaac for the occasion, along with his father, Adam Feldman all conducted the special inclusive Shabbat service before the 80 people, friends, relatives and members of the KK congregation with great aplomb. The kiddush, luncheon hosted by the Feldmans, dancing by the resurrected Azoi, and speeches by all the key players of the Feldman family in this important rite of passage, made for a fantastic and moving simcha. Mazel tov, Isaac!
Today I am 120 years old and I can no longer come and go. So says Moses at the start of Va-yeilech, as he approaches the end of his long discourse to the people. How can Moshe rabbeinu die? He has been with us for so long, all the way from Sh’mot. He has guided us, admonished us for our shortcomings, pleaded for us before God. It seems inconceivable that he should leave us, but leave us he must, for he is but mortal and another leader must replace him, one suited to the demands that will face the people once they cross the Jordan. Soon the Torah will be complete and the history of its survival among us will begin. Yet the Torah is an open book and completion is really just a prelude to a new beginning.
Moses has not reached the end yet, however. He has been continuing to proclaim the laws. He has reminded us of the choice we face between blessings and curses. He has told us we are becoming a nation. He has reminded us of all that God has done for us, but made it clear that we must make our own history, for nothing is preordained, though it may be foreseen. Moses prophesies disobedience and the dire consequences this will bring, but there is also hope of redemption. Interestingly, all the haftorot corresponding to the final sedrot are full of hope, suggesting that, while we may fail repeatedly, God will never totally abandon us.
Now listen. Ha’azinu is upon us and “My lesson shall drop like rain, my saying shall flow down like the dew – like a downpour on the herb, like a shower on the grass.” How lucky is Isaac Feldman to have Moses’ Song for his Bar Mitzvah piece. And how lucky are we to be able to hear the Song proclaimed by Isaac. Hearing will be believing. And to hear you must come along, not to Blackwater School, but to The Barn, Trelissick Gardens, Feock, TR3 6QL. The service will start at 10.30. Harvey Kurtzfield and Adam Feldman will be leading and supporting Isaac on this great day.
Services this year in Cornwall will be held at Roselidden Barn, Roselidden. Details can be found on our Events page. Visitors are welcome to attend. Donations to help cover the cost of meals will be welcome.
ELKAN’S VIEW FROM NETANYA WEEK ENDING 24TH SEPTEMBER 201
It’s been a good summer including the unforgettable 50th anniversary of the Belmont Synagogue where I was the first Minister.
To the great relief of Israeli parents the Chofesh Hagadol, the long vacation, has come to an end and the children have gone back to school. One parent wrote a long prayer of thanks, based on the Shehecheyanu blessing, that the holidays had finally come to an end! Israel is now getting ready for the Tishri festivals. The blazing heat of the summer is beginning to pass and the climate is altogether more pleasant.
There are concerns. The level of rainfall this year has been very low and an island has appeared in the middle of Kinneret because the water level has dropped fifteen feet below the maximum. Unfortunately the outlook is for a dry winter, so please pray fervently on Shemini Atzeret when Jews all over the world recite Tefillat Geshem, the prayer for Rain!
The American elections are a topic of extreme interest. Almost every discussion among Israelis will sooner or later turn to the Trump or Clinton question. Last week I went to a whole programme about this, and came away no wiser.
Religion is again becoming an issue in Israeli politics. The stranglehold that the ultraorthodox parties have within the coalition has begun to be challenged on two fronts. The first major issue is the question of the egalitarian prayer Plaza at the Kotel which is open to nonorthodox Jews. A clear agreement was signed in January 2016 but has not been implemented and the Supreme Court has asked for the whole matter to be brought before it. One of the justices even asked whether the government needed the court to pull its chestnuts out of the fire.
The other issue concerns work on the high-speed line between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, and the Tel Aviv Underground. It had been agreed that work on these projects will take place on Shabbat. Under pressure from his coalition partners Netanyahu stopped the Shabbat work. In this case the High Court told him that he had no power to do so and for the moment it goes on.
Please note that service reminders aim to build a bridge between the last Saturday service two weeks before and the one being announced. They will therefore often focus on the previous parshah rather than on the one in the title.
We are now deep in the stream of Moses’ discourse as he goes through all of God’s laws, accompanying these with promises and warnings. It is as if he were a very wise old man speaking calmly and encouragingly with his children before he leaves them to go into the future depending on their own will and actions. Appoint yourselves judges, he says, at the beginning of Shof’tim. Do not erect sacred pillars or engage in any of the revolting practices and idolatry practised widely in the region. Resolve difficult judicial questions by consulting the Levitical priests (and Levites). Do not allow your monarchs to aggrandise themselves. Root out sorcery. Some of the rules are an expression of compassion, such as allowing those betrothed, those who have recently planted a vineyard, or even those who are simply faint-hearted, to return home before a battle.
Ki Teitzei continues in similar vein. Women captured during a war may not be sold as slaves or kept as servants if the captor does not wish to marry them. It is not clear, however, what choice the women themselves had in the matter. And what about the rebellious son who does not amend his ways even after flogging and may be stoned to death? The rules continue. You must help a neighbour’s donkey if you see it fall under its load. Do not take a mother bird along with her chicks. If a man bears false witness against his wife he may be flogged. A rapist will be put to death. And so it goes on, ruling after ruling, all designed to enable Israel to construct a just and fair society. If you don’t believe me, and even if you do, come along to Three Bridges School on Saturday at 10.30. Adam Feldman will put us right.