From the Desk - The Red Sea
Shalom Friends! Last Shabbat, Family Knopf had a lovely Shabbat on De Vimy (yes, Rue De Vimy, a wonderful vacation destination, highly recommended!). Now, we're back and are so excited for what promises to be an excellent Shabbat this week. This Shabbat is both Shabbat Shira and TU B'Shvat. Shabbat Shira is the day on which the Torah reading includes an account of the crossing of the Red Sea and the subsequent rejoicing while TU B'Shvat is the new year for trees. To mark both of these landmarks in the Jewish calendar, we will be enjoying a Kehillah Shabbat of song and fruit! In this vein, we are delighted to announce that Cantor Michael Abikhzer of Petach Tikvah will be leading us in Shacharit. Through the rest of the service, we will be having special and uplifting contributions from both our new Youth Choir and the Aleinu Choir. Following the service, there will be a special and delicious sit down Kiddush and a TU B'Shvat seder in which we will enjoy and learn about the significance of various fruits. So... this is a Shabbos not to miss at Beth Ora! In other news, many of you would have watched the Super Bowl. Great fun - or so they tell me - but, is there something that can actually be learned from the Super Bowl that we can apply to our lives? Rabbi Benjamin Blech says yes and you can read his answer here. If you're lucky enough to make our Kehillah Shabbat this week, we look forward to seeing you. If not, we look forward to seeing you soon. And we wish you Shabbat Shalom! Rabbi Anthony and Carly Dovid, Rachelli, Yehuda and Avrami
What's the Deal With.... the Sea that the Israelites Crossed? Many people seem to think that the sea crossed by the Israelites was not the Red Sea but, rather, a body of water called the 'Reed Sea'. There is a useful article by Rabbi Ari Zivotofsky which shows that the sea they crossed was probably the Red Sea after all. Already 2,200 years ago, the Septuagint translated Yam Suf (the Hebrew Biblical name for the sea) as Erythra Thalassa or Red Sea. In his commentary on the Bible, known as Tafsir, Rabbi Sa’adia Gaon (d. 942 CE), who lived in Egypt and Israel as well as in Baghdad, translated Yam Suf as Bahr al Qulzum, the Arabic name used for the Red Sea till this very day. So which sea did the Israelites cross? If 'Yam Suf' is a sea with Reeds, it can't refer to the Red Sea which is a saltwater inlet where reeds could not flourish. In fact, though, other Biblical references clearly identify the Yam Suf as what is today known as the Red Sea or its arms, the Gulf of Suez and Gulf of Aqaba. For example I Kings 9:26 states: 'King Solomon also built a fleet of ships at Ezion Geber, which is near Eilat on the shore of the Yam Suf in the land of Edom.' The jury is still out on all this and there are views on both sides. But it's interesting to note that the common view that the Yam Suf does not refer to the Red Sea is one that has been seriously challenged.