From the Desk - "Al Netilat"
Shalom Friends! We are so excited for this week’s Shabbat Project! We have a jam packed, exciting and uplifting schedule for this Shabbat. With prizes to be won for the kids, a delicious Friday night Kiddush, the children’s and adult’s choir during the day and inspiring talks from our members, this Shabbat is the one not to miss. If there is one Shabbat that you come to Beth Ora, make it this one! This is the Shabbat on which thousands of Jews across the world keep the whole Shabbat. I challenge you to make every effort to keep this Shabbat, along with thousands of Jews throughout the world who are participating in this project. To find out more about the Shabbat Project, see here. Anyone who has questions about keeping Shabbat, please don’t hesitate to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 514-714-6559. One thing I forgot Last week, I wrote about all the activities at Beth Ora over the festival period. I forgot to mention that the kids’ choir - together with Rabbi Heshy Benshimon, Eric Dym and myself – visited Maimonides on Sukkot and had the pleasure of meeting several members who live there, some of whom shook the lulav and Etrog with much joy! Other things on at Beth Ora On the last two Tuesday evenings, we hosted excellent sessions at Beth Ora on the topic of caring for one another and cultivating a caring community (see photo, below). The sessions were led by Carol Liverman of Ometz. We all learnt a great deal about how better to support one another and what things to be aware of and to which we have to be sensitive. I was also encouraged by discussions by those who attended as to how we can further develop Beth Ora Community Care and bring it to the center of what we are doing as a community. I look forward to continuing these discussions and also intend to write and speak more about the group we have formed in order that more Beth Ora members are aware of what it is and what is being done. The Beth Ora schedule remains jam packed – please see our website for all the details. Don't forget that tonight we have the YidLife Crisis show at 8:00 PM and next Wednesday, November 1st at 7:30 PM we have our first session of Shul for Dummies. Just one thing, I’d like to flag up is our Storytime and Supper session that we are holding on Sunday, November 5th at 5 pm. This is a program for families with children aged between 6 and 12 though siblings of other ages will be welcome. A hot dog supper will be served and I will be telling a story to the children in the Sanctuary. Last Week in Synagogue Last Shabbat, I spoke about how Noah declined as a person toward the end of his life because he had become consumed by his efforts to cultivate the land after the flood until it took over his identity. Often, we pursue things which are very worthwhile but, when we must beware of becoming obsessed by them and allow them to overshadow other important things. You can read more about this here. I’d also like to remind you that our bazaar is coming up and we need all the help we can get! Please consider coming to volunteer any night, after 6:30 pm or anytime on Sunday. I’m so excited to see you at our events! Wishing you all Shabbat Shalom, Rabbi Anthony and Carly Knopf Dovid, Rachelli, Yehuda and Avrami
What’s the Deal With…the blessing on the Lulav and the blessing on washing the hands? When I brought the Lulav into the office for the staff to shake it, Aliza, our administrative assistant noticed that there is a similarity in the blessing on the Lulav and the blessing we say on washing our hands in the morning and before eating bread. On the Lulav, we say ‘al netilat lulav’ and, on washing, we say ‘al netilat yadayim’. Aliza asked an excellent question – we do very different things with the lulav and with our hands – we shake the Lulav and we wash our hands! So why the similarity in the blessing? The word ‘netilat’ means to ‘taking’ or ‘raising. This is a fair description of what we do with the lulav so the real question is: why do we say this blessing on washing our hands? It would seem more appropriate to say ‘al rechitzat yadayim’, on the washing of the hands! There are two answers: After we pour water on our hands, before saying the blessing (and before drying them), we are to raise our hands in the air. This represents the spiritual elevation of the hands. The ‘netila’/raising is a reference to this raising of the hands. The Avudraham (14th C, Spain) adds another reason. The washing of the hands must be done with a vessel. In the Talmud, the vessel with which you pour water is called a ‘Natla.’