In one or two recent services, we have discussed the challenges of some of the laws appearing in the weekly readings when we examine them in the light of contemporary sensibilities. The rules of priestly purity, for example, are difficult to reconcile with our modern attitudes and policies regarding disability and difference. In B’har, however, we cannot but be taken aback at the enlightened, inspired spirit of the laws given to Moses to pass on to the children of Israel. In a world in which, throughout most, if not all, of history, people have striven with one another to create power and wealth and amass as much land as possible, the laws of the jubilee year are remarkable. Basically, they make it impossible for any single person or family to become the owner of a vast estate. The instructions not to exploit, humiliate or lord it over debtors and the poor share the same inspired, ethical spirit.
B’chukkotai, continues in similar vein, reminding me of modern UK practice with regard to leasehold property. The parsha also anticipates the book of D’varim in its enumeration of blessings and curses following on from good or bad behaviour respectively. But enough from me, for, this coming Shabbat, we are in for a special treat in the form of Rabbi Maurice Michaels, who is coming to Cornwall to lead our service. When Rabbi Maurice took up his post in Bournemouth, he was described by the local Daily Echo as being an “inspirational rabbi”. Besides having a previous career in commerce and industry behind him, he has served, among other positions, on the Board of Deputies and as Chairman of what is now Reform Judaism. Several of our members have attended services in Bournemouth and I for one can vouch for his ‘inspirational’ leadership.
Rabbi Maurice will also conduct, as I have possibly mentioned already, a special service to welcome Mai Jacobson and Roger Chatfield into our community. How can you miss such a promising Shabbat day?