Weekly Commentary on Chukkat

Fair-weather believers seem to be the underlying narrative in the B’Midbar parshot, from the pusillanimous ten spies to the blasphemous insurrection of Korah, Dathan and Abiram and on to

the bitter waters of Meribah and more rebellion near Ma’im Suf, The Sea of Reeds. Will these wavering Children of Israel, clearly not yet Am Yisrael, ever stop complaining?

Just in the nick of time, the concept of Chukkat, also the title of this week’s parashah underscores not only the supremacy (and mercy) of the God of Israel, it also emphasises the comprehensiveness of all the commandments. Some are blatantly reasonable, rational and understandable, Mishpatim, but others, Chukkat, require leaps of faith and moral exactitude on a much higher, esoteric plain.

We do not understand the prohibition against mixing seeds together or of wearing cloth of mixed wool and linen or, in this week’s parsha, the rules regarding the Red Heifer. We obey them because God says so. End of argument? Not really. Nothing in Torah is that simple.

There is a rationale here. These laws are concerned with a higher morality, with life, not death and regulate one’s less apparent emotional states. These laws, as in the case of the Red Heifer and others, often appear before the narrative event explaining how to act in particular circumstances. Considering, too, that Chukkat tells of the deaths of Miriam and Aaron and its impact on Moses, the need for ‘higher guidance, is exactly what is needed.

To find out more, we are very fortunate this week to have the professional advice of Rabbi Amanda Golby who will be leading our services.  Please make every effort to come so that we cannot only learn and celebrate Shabbat together, but also, give Rabbi Golby a warm, Cornish welcome.

Sh’lach l’cha

Can you have too much of a good thing? Certainly, the Israelites had. After complaining about their limited diet. God sends them quails, so many that the people gather staggering quantities of birds and then eat until they are utterly nauseated. Poor Moses! He’s had enough of ‘a good thing’ too, weary of the kvetching and backsliding of the people he leads and teaches. To make matters worse, Aaron and Miriam complain about their brother’s choice of a foreign wife and the fact that God talks to him more than to them.  Moses, who has recovered some of his equanimity after the episode with the quail, immediately asks God to forgive Miriam, for Moses is a patient teacher and a forgiving brother.

Then we are into Sh’lach L’cha and the episode of the spies. This time it seems to be God who has had enough, and Moses who begs Him to forgive the people. God does, but He condemns them to forty years of wandering through the wilderness and the death in the wilderness of all those who were adults when they left Egypt. There is more evil to come, but that is in the next parsha. For now, we will stick with Sh’lach L’cha.

Adam Feldman will be leading the service this Saturday, starting at 10:30. Now, there’s someone who is a patient and humble teacher, too, so come along and listen, learn and practise. 

Banner Turnout for Pesach 5779

The largest Seder in KK history happened this year with 80 people attending the first night of Pesach at Trelssick Gardens in Feock, Truro.People came from near and afar to celebrate the traditional Haggadah service which highlights our Exodus from Egypt.

Masterly led by Vice-Chairman Adam Feldman, the first night of Seder was filled with song, prayer, meaningful and funny commentary throughout. Song, prayer, four cups of wine, a spectacular Mah Nishtana by our under 13’s, and much role playing by many members and visitors who attended made it a most lively and super Pesach.

Many thanks go to Chairman Jeremy Jacobson who welcomed and greeted all the guests in his very witty introductory remarks, to Harvey Kurzfield who officially passed over the service leadership to Adam, to Leslie Lipert who worked behind the scenes, to all the chefs who created a most spectacular seder meal, and most especially to Anne Hearle and her husband, David, who organised the entire festival.

Hag Sameach and enjoy your Matzah. You are commanded to do so. Never mind the crumbs

Photos of Pesach Sedar 5779

Obedience at Disobedience

The Film/Food/Book/Fact Club met April 6th at Malpas Village Hall for another fantastic evening of good food, conviviality and discussion to view the film, ‘Disobedience,’ based on the book by the same title by Naomi Alderman.

Both the film and the book raised all kinds of avenues for discussion as both genres examined the impact of the death of the revered eminent Rabbi Krushka on the alternative lifestyles in the orthodox community of Hendon.Issues of freedom of choice verses tradition, various interpretations of Jewish law and how it could and should be practised, the physical and psychological impact of being raised in a strictly orthodox community and what constitutes happiness were all addressed through various central characters in depth and through stereotypical personages of stock Jewish members of a closed community:the gunzer machers, the movers and shakers, the academics, the variant family units, the frumers and the free spirits.

Many thanks to Adam and Melanie Feldman for arranging the venue, Jeremy Jacobson who provided the film, and to all those members and guests who helped with the ‘washing up’ to ensure that it was another fine, unmissable evening for the Film/Food/Book/Fact Club. If you haven’t attended one of these KK  events, make sure you catch the next one!

Click here to view pictures taken on the night.

Jewish Community of Cornwall