B’midbar

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.

People and places are what it’s about in the desert or wilderness of B’midbar. The wilderness is, as is evident in the English, a wild place, without boundaries or clear delineating forms, but in the opening parsha of the book of B’midbar, definition is given to the people of Israel. They are counted, all except the Levites, according to their tribes, and then they are placed around the Communion Tent: Judah, with Issachar and Zebulun, to the east; Reuben, with Simeon and Gad, to the south; Ephraim, with Manasseh and Benjamin, to the west, and Dan, with Asher and Naphtali to the north. The Levites are in the middle, also divided into sub-groups. In the midst of nowhere, a nation is created on both a spiritual and a physical plane.

But I forget myself. What about B’har and B’chukkotai, last week’s double parshiyot? Well, the first covers redemption of land, property, people and, in a sense, time. There is good agricultural sense in letting the land rest, but the Torah adds a spiritual dimension. Resting the land every seven years clearly reflects Shabbat and honours God and His creation. B’chukkotai underlines the importance of following God’s laws, promising peace and fulfilment if we keep them, suffering and loss if we don’t. Yet there is also the promise of redemption, thus continuing the theme of B’har. Property and slaves can be redeemed by time. Israel can be redeemed by repentance.

Let us return to this week. Liz Berg will be leading us in prayer, song, reading and conversation, so come to Three Bridges School on Saturday at 10.30

The day after the night before

March ended and April began for Kehillat Kernow on a spiritual, social and culinary high. Friday 31st brought down from remotest London David and Hannah Jacobs. David led a joyful Shabbat evening service, followed by a delicious meal with many tastes prepared to perfection by Estelle Moses.

On Saturday morning, David led the service, together with Pat Lipert, who gamely stood in at the last moment for Liz Berg, who sadly had to return home due to feeling very unwell. The service was followed by kiddush, and kiddush was followed by a most interesting exploration and discussion of Pesach, chaired by David and Hannah. We looked at a variety of haggadot and noted how these were influenced by the historical and cultural context in which they had been produced. We then focussed on the four sons or, in some modern haggadot, four children and their four questions. Some most imaginative representations of these have been produced and working out, for some of them, which of the children are which is itself a challenging question.

It is always good to be stimulated by the particular focus that different individuals bring to old topic and questions, and stimulated we were.

COMMUNAL SEDER

Spring is coming and, with it, one of the most wonderful festivals of the Jewish year: Pesach. It is fitting that, at the same time as the world around us begins again to burst into growth, we celebrate the throwing off of the bonds of slavery. We clean our houses, looking for chametz and, in the process, sweep away the dust and crumbs at the back of drawers and cupboards, the grey cobwebs in the corners of our kitchens. Pesach is also a time to look inside our hearts and perhaps clear away a few dusty habits and modes of thought grown stiff with complacency. And it is a time to celebrate together the great gift of freedom and the coming together of the people of Israel in a shared covenant with God.

The first night of Pesach this year will be on Monday 10 April and Kehillat Kernow will be celebrating it in grand style. There will be the traditional story, given new life by the ever fresh reading of our Honorary Life President Harvey Kurzfield, the traditional seder plate, and a wonderful buffet lovingly cooked and prepared by some of the talented chefs of the community.

Our seder is a wonderful occasion for both children and adults. If you are visiting Cornwall during Pesach and wish to attend the seder, please contact Anne Hearle on  01736 731686 for details.

Jewish Community in Cornwall