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Parshat Behar-Bechukotai  21 Iyar 5780 - May 15, 2020

05/15/2020 03:27:22 PM


RABBI’S MESSAGE: Today’s Google news feed tells of a new smartphone camera that has “x-ray vision” and can see through certain plastics and clothing. Creepy. There is a type of “x-ray vision,” however, sometimes I wish we did have -- namely, I wish we could see all of the interconnections and causal trails of the kindnesses people do for one another. Tehillim (89:3) teaches: “Olam chesed yibaneh - the world is built up through kindness.” The Psalm asserts that our often hidden, little acts of kindness weave together into a gossamer web of enormous tensile strength that supports the whole of human civilization.  Imagine what it would look like to see the world with this type of “x-ray vision?” We’d see strings of connection between each of us, and all of us, never tangling, and always carrying us upright and forward. 

    The first of our double parshiyot this week, Behar, begins: “וַיְדַבֵּ֤ר ה’ אֶל־מֹשֶׁ֔ה בְּהַ֥ר סִינַ֖י לֵאמֹֽר - And God spoke to Moshe at Har Sinai, saying” (Lev 25:1). The Torah then goes on to adumbrate in great detail the mitzvah of Shemitta. Rashi, takes note of the unusual prelude to the presentation of Shemitta by stipulating God spoke of this to Moshe at Mount Sinai. Rashi famously asks: “Mah inyan Shemitta etzel Har Sinai - What does Shemitta have to do with Har Sinai?” Rashi answers that we must believe that just as the details are presented here expansively and in depth with regard to Shemitta, so too for all the mitzvot given at Har Sinai, despite their sometimes brief and unexpanded presentation in the Torah. The details of all the mitzvot reside in the Oral Torah, which we believe was also given to Moshe at Har Sinai.

    In other words, when it comes to Torah, it is always about the details, even if we sometimes  speak in generalities. So too it is with kindness. When we speak of kindness, we often speak in  platitudes: Be Kind to Others; Pay it Forward; Engage in Random Acts of Kindness; Better Kind than Clever, etc. Underlying these simplistic maxims, however, lies a much more detailed, deeper truth of the complexity of kindness, and how kind acts create the scaffolding holding up our world (see Avot 1:2). Would it be better if we could don a pair of “x-ray glasses” and behold the complex of connections and causations kindness makes? It sure would be cool. But it may also undermine the goal. Kindness is not about me, it’s about you - but, then again, not just about you. It’s about our faith in goodness. It’s about living the Godly and purposeful life. It’s about giving positive spin to the energy and matter that make up the whole universe. It’s about trusting that all the details that make up our lives are informed by the quiet voice and hidden vision of Sinai. It’s about imagining a better world and acting to make it be. IT’s about feeling, not seeing, the connections that keep it all together. 

    Shabbat shalom, Rav Benjie


This coming Thursday night and Friday is Yom Yerushalyim - Jerusalem Reunification Day. We are planning on a video program next Thursday night, and will sing Hallel at synchronous Shacharit next Friday. Stay tuned for more information...



Shaarei Good News ...  This second episode features the contagious laughter of children; a Shaarei poetry slam; a spiritual message by Israeli neo-chassidic musical sensation, R' Shlomo Katz (interviewed by our international correspondent, Dov Kram); an amazing chesed project by NCSY teenagers from Newton interviewed by Rabbi Yudi Reisel; and to finish, a "sing-along" musical celebration of Shaarei Tefillah by Steven Lesser, among other "good news" spots.You can view it here:


If you still haven’t seen the critically disclaimed first episode of “Shaarei Good News,” you may find it here: or via this Youtube link:


Corona-Crisis Shavuot with Shaarei 5780


Help Us Complete the Torah For Shavuot - Slots are still available!

Let us join as a community to complete the five books of Torah. Please sign up to learn a Parasha or two by Sunday May 24, Rosh Chodesh Sivan. We look forward to celebrating our Siyum by Zoom before Shavuot. *Children who sign up will be given Shaarei Shekels for each Parasha. We will hold a shuk upon completion. Sign up at


Need Volunteers to Generate Source Sheets for Shavuot Home Study

Each year, when we celebrate Shavuot, we are blessed by the teachings of our members at our Tikkun Leil and Tikkun Yom Shavuot. This year, we will all be having a Tikkun Home Shavuot. We would like to prepare source sheets for home study.  Please contact Emma Stitcher or Rabbi Samuels to volunteer.  Rabbi Samuels stands at the ready to help anyone with resources, as needed.


Pre-Shavuot Programming

We are also preparing pre-Shavuot programming with special Rosh Chodesh Hallel davening and Torah Tot Tefillah via Zoom on Sunday, May 24; Torah classes and programs on each day leading up to Shavuot; and a communal Yizkor on Wednesday night, May 27. Stay tuned for more information.




 All Musicians - Musical Salons

Calling all Shaarei musicians and music lovers! We invite you to join our virtual concerts (either as a performer or audience member).  We are planning to host three Sunday evenings via Zoom for a half hour of music performed by Shaarei members. The dates are Sundays, May 17, June 7 and July 5, all from 7-7:30 pm. If you play an instrument (or sing) and would like to perform a short piece, please sign up on this link: We look forward to hearing from you! - Rachel Goldstein and Susannah Heschel

Our first Music Salon is this Sunday, May 17, 7-7:30 PM. The program includes performances by: Sheila Waxman (Chopin waltz); Rafi & Rob Kaplan (Improv); Henry Goldstein  (Eccles Sonata for viola); Joseph Manna (Praeludium & Allegro for violin by Fritz Kreisler); Aviav Bernstein (Bach Cello Suite in G Minor for viola);Carolyn Bernstein (La Precieuse by Fritz Kreisler for violin)
Join Zoom Meeting: contact us for details


Petichat haShaar - Interactive D’var Torah: 15 minute Parsha Sessions  


Parshat Bamidbar, Thursday, May 21st at 9:00 PM 

Join us for a virtual parshah discussion led by JON LEVISOHN. 

Zoom opens at 8:55; Interactive Dvar Torah starts promptly at 9 pm; Formal session ends at 9.15.  


Join Zoom Meeting: contact us for details

Thu, October 29 2020 11 Cheshvan 5781