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RABBI'S COMMENTARY

                                                                     Nitzavim

               Here, Moses speaks both eloquently and forcefully, commanding all Israel to remain faithful to the Torah’s sacred covenant with God. Who is his audience? The text reels through time from past to future, the listeners first appearing to be the Dor Haye’tsiah/the Exodus Generation, which escaped Egypt and died in the wilderness. Next, there is a shift to the Dor HaMidbar/the Wilderness Generation, which was born following the sin of the Golden Calf, and grew up free in the Wilderness, knowing Egyptian slavery only from their parents’ stories (the same tales we tell on Pesach), and faithful only to Moses, Joshua, and God. Moses’s prophecy moves backward and forward in history, from all the Jews who were ever born in the past, to the as-yet-unknown future history of our people, far beyond our lives today. Our eternal task is to keep our people active in their religion and faithful to the Eternal Covenant with God, marching through time to our inevitable tribal Destiny.

 

I love that Moses addresses, not only our Wilderness ancestors, but all of us present-day Jews, and all our forebears, living and dead. When Moses delivered the Torah from Sinai, according to the Midrash-Legends, “Not a bird twittered; not an animal opened its mouth; not a Jew spoke. Instead, all Creation listened and heard the opening words of the Decalogue: ‘I am the LORD your GOD, Who brought you out of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.’” We are truly a People who dwell, not only within, but outside of human history. Moses’s speech is entirely appropriate for this time of year as we approach the High Holies, the only holidays which depend on Time more than any others in the Jewish calendar.

 

In our modern world, Time dominates our lives in myriad ways, from the daily schedules we follow, the cellphones we carry and covet, the computers we depend on, and the “machines of convenience” which we believe we control, yet which inexorably dominate our lives: tablets, laptops, and the like. These timeless words of Moses—“You stand this day, all of you, before the Lord your God” (Deut. 29:9),—speak, not only to ancient tribespeople living in a cloudy, distant Past, but to all of us, Today. We delude ourselves into thinking that we are bound by cellphones and Microsoft Outlook; we are truly bound only by the holy laws of Torah and God.

           

            Beyond the standard conditional exhortations of prophecy—“If you follow God’s will, then God will ensure your prosperity”—we find an idea fundamental to Jewish thought around this time of year: that of teshuva, doing repentance, and returning to God. When Israel crosses over the Jordan and abandons God for the idolatrous but attractive cults of the Canaanites, God may punish them for a time, but will never totally abandon them. In the passage of time, the erring Jews will instead rediscover how much God loves them and desires to draw them near. In a world of materialistic tawdriness and gimcrackery, let us always make time to bring the lasting and the sacred into our lives.

 

“I have never lived a Godly life before,” you may say, “How can I begin now? How can I make keeping Shabbat, lighting candles, coming to temple, part of my life? I have gone too far in the opposite direction; I am lost….”

 

No: there is always Hope. Indeed, our tradition teaches that a repentant sinner is more precious to God than someone who has always lived a religious life, because the former has succeeded in taking his mundane previous existence and converting it to spiritual light.

           

            Moses then addresses his primary disciple, Joshua, who will lead Israel after Moses’s death. The aged prophet despairs: God has granted him a vision of the Israelites backsliding in the future. Are we therefore always doomed to fall short of God’s expectations?

 

I believe with all my heart that the Jewish relationship with God today continues as strong as it has been in the past, iron-plated and copper-sheathed, despite our tendency to doubt and quibble about the details. God has questions about our lives and intentions, but loves us, nonetheless, as a parent does an erring child. “If you approach Me even one hand’s-breadth,” says God, “I will come from miles away, and cover the remainder of the distance between us. I am as close to you as your heart and soul.” Remember this. Always remember—and Shana Tova Oom’tukah—a Happy, Healthy, and Sweet New Year, as you plan to join with your Temple Sholom Family for the High Holy Days!

 

 

                                                           Shabbat Shalom 

MEET OUR CLERGY

OUR RABBI - David Hartley Mark

WATCH RABBI MARK , To Life, L'Chaim #217 - Rabbi David Mark (You Tube)

Rabbi David Hartley Mark

Rabbi David Hartley Mark was born in New York City, and grew up on the Lower East Side, that legendary Jewish immigrant neighborhood, attending Hebrew Day School. He was first from his school, the East Side Torah Center, to attend Yeshiva University High School for Boys—Manhattan. David attended Yeshiva University, where he attained a BA in English Literature, a BS in Bible and Jewish Education, and a Hebrew Teacher’s Diploma (HTD). He spent his third year of college at Bar Ilan University in Ramat-Gan, Israel, where he developed a fluency in Hebrew, and toured around the country. He has also attained a Certificate in Advanced Jewish School Administration from the Hebrew College in Brookline, MA.

David attended the City University of New York Graduate Center, where he earned an MA degree from Queens College, as well as an M.Phil. degree, majoring in 17th Century English, specializing in the work of John Milton, as well as the Romantic Poets. A year teaching Hebrew School in a Reform temple in Brooklyn convinced him of his great love of Judaism, and he began attending the Academy for Jewish Religion, Yonkers, NY, where he was ordained a rabbi in 1980.

 

He met Anbeth, who was hired as temple secretary the same day he was hired to teach. They were married in 1978. They have two grown children, Tyler and Jordan, as well as a grandson, Aidan.

 

Rabbi Mark served pulpits in Warren, NJ, Fayetteville, NC, and Portsmouth, NH, in which last pulpit he spent 22 years, a record for that state. Seeking warmer climes, as well as closer family members, he and Anbeth took the pulpit of Temple Sholom in 2009. He also fulfilled a lifetime dream of teaching English at Keiser University in Ft. Lauderdale.  

 

OUR CANTOR - Javier Smolarz

Cantor Javier Smolarz

Cantor Smolarz comes to us originally from Argentina and via Congregations in various U.S. localities, joining Temple Sholom in September of 2018, where he has been wholeheartedly embraced by the Congregation.  His strong beautiful singing voice is coupled with a great sense of presence and decorum, but with a warm welcoming demeanor - all of which enhances our morning minyans and shabbat and holiday services.

 

 

WORSHIP WITH US

Your connection to the Jewish faith
is a vital part of who you are, and your family.

At Temple Sholom, congregants join together to celebrate our faith in a warm, comfortable and supportive environment, where all are welcome.

    We are a modern, egalitarian congregation, and encourage full participation by women in synagogue life, as well as offer full access to Jewish worship and religious experience for all of our members. At the same time, we cherish our Jewish traditions, and work to preserve them as a precious legacy for ourselves and our children.

Visit us and let us make you feel at home.

 

Our Czech Torah - Holocaust Memorial Scroll

The Torah was shipped in 1989 following a request from Malcolm Black who was the President at that time. The Torah is about 200 years old and comes from Mlada Boleslav, a town in the Czech Republic.

Sun, October 2 2022 7 Tishrei 5783