February 9, 2018 ♦ 24 Shevat 5778

by Sheila Bergman, President
    We call to everyone's attention that we have some exciting new items at our Sisterhood Gift Shop, beautiful jewelry, Passover Seder plates, Matzah plates and other religious articles.  Please stop by and check  out the cases in the Temple lobby.  We welcome requests as to what you would like us to stock in our gift shop.  Contact the Temple Office with suggestions.
    Our next Sisterhood meeting will be on Sunday, February 25th at Noon at the Temple. Enjoy a pre-Purim lunch along with a silent auction closeout of gift shop items. We will also prepare some items for the upcoming Purim Celebration scheduled for Sunday, March 4th.  Plan to attend and enjoy great comradery, while we organize and plan for future events of Sisterhood.  All ideas and suggestions are welcome.  
    Do you like to volunteer?  We seek members to serve on Sisterhood committees, e.g. program, membership, gift shop, kitchen, telephone, and fundraising committees; please contact me through the Temple office.
    Shop Amazon?  Amazon will donate 0.5% of the price of your eligible purchases to Temple Sholom when you shop Amazon Smile—smile.amazon.com    
      Please help us grow by encouraging the people you know to be a part of our community. Our programs are relevant, exciting and fun. But most important, our members are welcoming and inclusive. 
Shabbat Shalom!
We’re Glad You’re Here
    Shabbat Across America is this weekend—invite friends, neighbors and co-workers to participate in a joyous Shabbat meal and experience. Synagogues across the continent will take part in an historic national Jewish event to celebrate what unifies all Jews — Shabbat!
      Our Lecture Series continues with Dr. Murray Lichtenstein on February 18, 2018 at 3 PM.  The Song of Songs—The Bible Sings of Love.  Join us for a talk about the sounds, sights and scents of nature, the drama of love—its joy and its pain from unique biblical book.
    SAVE THE DATE—Sunday, March 4th.  We are planning our Purim Celebration with Eduardo.  More info forthcoming….watch the Bulletin! 
       The ADAPT-A-KADDISH project has nine adoptions to date.  You may adopt a memory by calling the office.
      Join Rabbi’s Adult Hebrew class.  The class is a lot of fun, with many exciting discussions! We discuss Hebrew, the background of the letters, and look at the prayers to discover their meaning.
    The next Sisterhood meeting will be held on Sunday, February 25th, Noon at the Temple. Enjoy a pre-Purim lunch along with a silent auction closeout of gift shop items. Prepare items for the Purim Celebration scheduled for Sunday, March 4th.  Plan to attend and enjoy great comradery, while we organize and plan for future events of Sisterhood. All ideas and suggestions are welcome. 
    Laura Durant’s groups meet every Monday.  If you haven’t been, listed here are some dates to consider—(2/5) Philosophically Speaking, (2/12) In My Shoes, (2/19) Tell Us A Story, (2/26) In My Shoes. 
    Allow us to help you make difficult decisions during a period of great stress and grief. Temple Sholom along with Forest Lawn North can help you get prepared. Contact the office at (954) 942-6410 for more information about our Temple Cemetery. 
    We’re glad you’re here—Hear Rabbi Mark as he draws from Jewish wisdom in a way that is accessible to all of us.  Attend a discussion group this week—Temple Sholom.

The Paving-Blocks of Heaven

by Rabbi David Mark

“Then Moses and Aaron, Nadav and Avihu, and the seventy elders of Israel ascended; they saw the God of Israel. Under His feet there appeared the likeness of a pavement of sapphire, like the very sky for purity. Yet He did not raise His hand againt the leaders of the Israelites; they saw God, and they ate and drank.”

--Exodus 24:9-11

           My name is Yonatan ben Hoseef ben Zevulun, Stranger. I am very happy that you found my tent. We are not friends, having just met, and so, I am able to pour out my heart to you; an old friend might think me insane. Briefly, I just participated in the most remarkable journey any mortal could experience, led by our Rabbi Moses. It has convinced me that the man is not just a teacher and a miracle-worker, but also a mystic.

Why, do you ask? I will tell you. Moses had begun receiving Torah from the Lord GOD—it was workaday ordinances: laws governing the proper care of cattle, how we are to run our farms once we enter Canaan—and who knows when, or if, that will happen? Yes: I know that God has promised it, and I have as much faith as the next man—but this same God is so mercurial, so quick to change His mind, that I doubt whether all of us escapees from our Egyptian prison will make it there alive.

        Well, no matter: I will rejoice, even at the end of my life, if my son and granddaughters make it there, and either wrest it bodily from the Canaanite pagans, or infiltrate the land gradually. I have witnessed the Ten Plagues, seen the flower of Egypt’s cavalry flung into and drowned in the Sea of Reeds. After all our sufferings at Pharaoh’s hands (and those of his father and grandfather, too), that warms my vengeful heart in a manner part of me finds disquieting.

Still, no matter. I promised you a tale of a mystical nature, and you shall have it. I am not an old man, but, because my father Hoseef died young, in Egypt—he was measuring the boundaries of one of Ramesses’s monuments to himself, when a craneload of sandstone blocks accidentally dropped on him—I inherited his office of zaken, a tribal elder. On that basis, I attended their next meeting. The older elders—strange to be saying that—were hesitant to accept me. One of the most aged graybeards, a rascal named Letzneel ben Shoteh, challenged me:

        “You there, you Yonatan! How dare you enter our sacred assembly? How can you lay claim to any knowledge of the Law?”

         But I swiftly put him into his place. Coolly, I replied:

        Since the Torah has not been given yet, Milord Letzneel, I will learn it, I promise you, as quickly as any of you. And it is a fact that we young ones learn more quickly than others who pretend to a knowledge of the Law; we are unafraid to admit our shortcomings, and absorb more quickly, than prideful elders.”

        That quick answer put the old slug into his place. He took his seat, muttering, and the other Elders quickly voted to admit me, to represent my tribe. Zevulun.

        Aaron came to our meeting, and requested that we adjourn quickly—it seems that Milord Rabbi Moses wished us to accompany him, if not to the top of Sinai, then close by—so it seemed. We arose, formed a line in order of seniority and succession, and followed our High Priest.

        As we marched by twos through the Camp of Israel, the common folk gave way before us, and a few cheered for us—really, since Moses had arrived in Egypt and taken over leadership of our people, we Elders had not met on a regular basis; there was no need. Our Prophet would receive messages from God, and tell the people directly. We were a remnant of an earlier day, going all the way back to Jacob’s passing, and his sons seeking a more equitable way to solve tribal disagreements.

        In the midst of all this pomp and lack-of-circumstance, I realized that I was getting hungry—I am a cobbler, and, with all of Moses’s lectures, had lost time from work; orders were coming due. I had rushed to my work that morning. In my hurrying, I had grabbed merely a pita, dipped it into some hummus, and crammed it into my mouth. Too late, I realized that I had not uttered the appropriate bracha, or blessing, and so, following that first bite, I mumbled, “B’rich Mar d’hai pita”—"Blessed be the Master of this pita,” which I hoped would please God. I feared that the sound of my empty belly rumbling might disturb whatever ceremonies were to take place—I saw Aaron at our head, and figured that he and his elder sons, Nadav and Avihu, would make some sort of offering.

       Still, my hunger persisted—and, as one would figure, I felt a headache coming on. Normally, my dear wife Uriella bat Elchanan oo’Machshefa would put a cool, wet cloth on my forehead, and do her best to keep our little ones from playing in the tent, which was not easy to do, especially on a hot desert day. But Uriella was far behind me in the camp, and there were no cool cloths among our parade of ancients. From far in the front, I saw Aaron gesturing animatedly and saying something to our front rank—I plucked at the sleeve of the man in front of me, but he could not hear, either: he was old and deaf. My headache, meanwhile, pounded away.

        The last thing I remember of our troop of elders was Aaron holding up his hands with his fingers spread in the well-known priestly-blessing fashion. I looked at his hands—something inside of me urged me to do so, or, perhaps, I hoped that this talisman might relieve my head-pounding.

        Instead, there was a flash of light and a cloud of something smelling like incense—the light slowly faded, and I could not see to see—I shut my eyes in fear. When I opened them, I was standing, not on desert sand, but on a sapphire sort of pavement. I dared not look up, but heard a thundering voice—could this be the Invisible God of Whom Moses had spoken? I feared that to look upon Him was death, but did sneak a peek at the throne—it was all pearl-coated gold.         And my headache, Blessed be God, was gone. It was a miracle.

      I did look at both sides, away from the Throne, and saw tables laden with fruits and nuts and sweet biscuits, along with every good thing. The foremost elders—I noted among them the laggard who wished to exclude me from the throng—were first at the tables, and did eat and drink. What holy food there was: oranges sweet as the honey of Eden, wine laid up since the days of Creation, and all in abundance. We were there for—how long? Days? Hours? Seconds?—but eventually returned to earth, I am not exactly sure how.

        I would love, indeed, to return, and ask questions of this God, but I doubt it will ever happen again. Still, I am grateful for our miracle, which is a deep secret; Moses has promised not to include it in the Holy Scroll. I now believe, most wholeheartedly, in the One True God, the God of Israel. May He protect us on our way!

Friday, February 9
                            Shabbat Across America
         7:30 pm     Shabbat Service
Saturday, February 10
                             Haftorah:  Kyle Smith
         9:30 am     Morning Services
       12:30 pm     Discussion w/Rabbi
Monday, February 12
         8:45 am     Morning Minyan
       10:00 am    “In My Shoes” w/Durant
Wednesday, February 14
        8:45 am     Morning Minyan
                            Talmud Explorers w/Cantor
        4:30 pm     Adult Hebrew Class w/Rabbi
        7:00 pm     Discussion  w/Rabbi
Thursday, February 15
                           Rosh Chodesh—30 Shevat
        8:45 am     Morning Minyan
Friday, February 16
                            Rosh Chodesh—1 Adar
        7:30 pm      Shabbat Service