From the Desk - Jealousy
Shalom Friends! I hope you are having a good week! Remarkably, winter seems to have ended! All of a sudden, I am able to walk the streets of Montreal without boots! So can we finally agree that the Montreal winter is not that bad? Or are people going to threaten that winter is not over and the snow will return? I have a feeling it will be the latter... (Written on Wednesday, February 28th) Please take note of all the great activities we have coming up for Purim. We have too many events to list here and I must refer you to our Shabbat bulletin but I do want to highlight two activities. As we have often mentioned, one of the things we love to do at Beth Ora is to engage our children and their families. This Saturday night, after Shabbat at 7:00 PM, we invite pre-school and elementary school children and their parents to Beth Ora for a special Havdallah service. After Havdallah, there will be a special opportunity for parents to learn about Purim together with their children. Finally, we will be preparing food packages to take home and give to our friends on Purim as part of the mitzvah of mishloach manot. On the subject of mishloach manot, if you don't know what this is or you haven't seen my special video, please click here to watch it now. On March 11th, at 7:15 PM, you are invited to our Purim Carnival for children, Megillah Reading and Chocolate Factory for adults. Children in costumes will get a prize. Last week in synagogue, I discussed the Torah's guidance on how to deal with setbacks and how to cope when people harm us. For more on that topic, click here. Finally, I want to remind you about our special Kehillah Shabbat on March 11th when we will be honouring the women of the community. Even if you do not always attend synagogue, this is a week to attend, especially (but not only) if you happen to be a woman! Rebbetzin Carly will be addressing the community in the Sanctuary, the men will serve the women at the Kiddush and there is at least a decent chance of hearing a (sort of) duet from myself and Rabbi Heshy! It also happens to be Carly and my 10th wedding anniversary and we would love you to celebrate with us at the Kiddush! Shabbat Shalom for now, Rabbi Anthony and Carly Knopf Dovid, Rachelli, Yehuda and Avrami
What's the Deal With... G-d telling us not to be jealous but being described as a jealous G-d? This question was asked by Irwin Ludmer. A couple of weeks ago, we read the 10 Commandments in synagogue. The last of the 10 commandments is 'lo tachmod', which is often understood as prohibiting jealousy. This condemnation of jealousy seems to conflict with the Torah's description of Hashem as a jealous G-d (Deuteronomy 4:24). So what's the deal? Interestingly, the term that has been understood as prohibiting jealousy at the end of the 10 commandments, 'tachmod', is ambiguous. In some contexts, it signifies the action of theft, while in other circumstances it refers to thought alone. Some commentators, including the distinguished Rabbi Nachmanides, suggest that 'lo tachmod' is essentially a prohibition against theft. Nevertheless, it is surely agreed that jealousy is not generally a desirable trait. Another well-known commentator, Ibn Ezra, explains that this prohibition projects the ideal of rejoicing in what one has, thereby also guaranteeing mutual respect and limiting friction between individuals. So if human jealousy is condemned, what do we make of describing G-d as jealous? The commentaries explain that the verse describing G-d as jealous is not literally describing an emotion that G-d feels. Jewish philosophers generally understand that G-d does not experience feelings at all. Rather, it refers to G-d's punishing those who worship idols. The topic of Divine punishment is one that requires its own discussion but suffice to say that the commentaries understand that the verse refers to G-d's actions of punishment as opposed to any feeling of envy.