From the Desk - Fish with Fins and Scales
Shalom Friends! I hope this email finds you well. This week is one of the saddest periods of the Jewish calendar, culminating in the Fast of Av which we observe on Sunday. I'll write more about the Fast of Av below, but I do want to remind you about two special events that we look forward to in the coming weeks. The first is our guest speaker, Rabbi Shalom Hammer, who is visiting our synagogue on Shabbat July 28th. Rabbi Hammer is a charismatic and talented educator and will be speaking to us about an array of fascinating topics. In particular, we look forward to his talk at our special sit-down Kiddush! I also want to remind you about our second annual Mega-Fruit-Salad making! We are appealing to members to bring fruit on Sunday August 12th. We would appreciate donations of lemons, oranges, apples, pears, peaches, nectarines, plums, grapes, melons, clementines and berries. Even more importantly - please come along to help make the fruit salad! Finally, I am looking for volunteers to deliver the fruit salad to worthy causes. Those who are happy to volunteer please speak to me. Shabbat Followed by Tisha B'Av The Fast of Av is a night and day of fasting and prayer in mourning over the destruction of the Holy Temple and other tragedies that occurred on this fateful day. This year, the date of the 9th of Av falls on Shabbat. Even though the fast itself is pushed off to Sunday, there remains something of a paradox because the 9th of Av is the saddest day of the Jewish calendar whereas Shabbat is associated with happiness. Below is an explanation of how we conduct ourselves this Shabbat and on Tisha B'Av and the meaning behind it. According to many authorities, there is no need to hold back in the meals we have this Shabbat. We can eat lots of wonderful food even though it is the 9th of Av. Rabbi Yitzchak Meir Alter, a 19th century chassidic rabbi, gives a beautiful commentary on this. He explains that, usually Shabbat takes on the character of whatever day it coincides with, whether it is Yom Tov, Rosh Chodesh or even Yom Kippur. However, when it comes to a fast day, Shabbat doesn't allow the fast to enter its boundaries even a little. This is why one can eat heartily this Shabbat. Below are some rules and times relevant to this Shabbat:
Although we usually eat bread and hard boiled eggs before Tisha B'Av, there is no need to do that when the day before Tisha B'Av is Shabbat. As mentioned, we can enjoy a full meal before the fast and we can even eat meat. One must stop eating before 8:34 PM.
Mincha is at 7:00 PM and there is no class before Mincha. This is because there are some views that say that, even on Shabbat, one should not learn Torah on the afternoon before Tisha B'Av because learning brings pleasure. One can however learn parts of the scriptures which are relevant to Tisha B'Av and mourning.
Shabbat concludes at 9:29 PM.
At this time, one should recite the words 'Baruch Hamavdil bein kodesh lechol' to distinguish between Shabbat and weekday. One should then change into non-leather shoes.
Maariv at synagogue after Shabbat will be at 9:40 PM.
After Maariv, we will read the Megilla of Eicha (Lamentations) and sit on low chairs. Havdalla will not be recited. Instead, we will make the blessing over the flame only.
Many of the prohibitions of Tisha B'Av are similar to those of Yom Kippur. We do not eat or drink, bathe or annoint ourselves with oils, wear leather shoes or have intimate relations. Unlike Yom Kippur, these restrictions come from a place of sadness and restriction.
Other things to note are:
No tallit or tefillin are worn at Shacharit. They are worn at Mincha.
We are showing special Tisha B'Av movies in the Hurwitz Lounge at 4:00 PM and 6:15 PM on Sunday.
The Fast ends at 9:18 PM.
May the sorrows of our people and the world be brought to an end and may we merit to rejoice in a redeemed world. Shabbat Shalom, Rabbi Anthony and Carly Knopf Dovid, Rachelli, Yehuda and Avrami
What's the Deal with... Fish with Fins and Scales? The Book of Deuteronomy says regarding fish: "Everything that has fins and scales, may you eat. But anything that has no fins and scales, you may not eat." The Talmud claims that, in fact, all fish that have scales also have fins and are thus Kosher. Accordingly, Joe Bitton asked the question: Why are fins presented as an identifying sign for Kosher fish when they are redundant, since scaled fish inevitably have fins as well? What's the deal? Here is an answer based on an article by Rabbi YY Jacobson. The Kabala teaches that the physical attributes of fish and of all animals reflect their psychological and spiritual qualities. It further explains that the food a person consumes has a profound effect on his/her pscyhe. The late Rebbe of Chabad wrote that, as the armour that protects the body of the fish, scales represent the quality of integrity which protects us from the many pitfalls that life presents. Integrity means that one has absolute standards of right and wrong and behaves correctly in the face of temptation. Fins propel fish forward so they represent ambition. Ambition is what propels us to fulfill our dreams and to leave our unique imprint on the world. Which of these two qualities is more important? Should we concentrate primarily on providing our children with the confidence and skills necessary for them to become accomplished human beings? Or should we focus more on teaching them to do what is right? The Talmud teaches that all fish that have scales also have fins but that there are fish that have fins but no scales and that such fish are not Kosher. Symbolically, this means a human being who possesses ambition but lacks integrity is "unkosher." Educating confident children does not guarantee their moral health. On the other hand, the Talmud tells us that all fish with scales have fins. While integrity is fundamental, ambition is also important. By mentioning fins as one of the signs of a Kosher fish, the Torah teaches us that it is not enough to maintain our own integrity, we must also have a positive effect on the world. The lesson of the Talmud is that if we teach our children to approach life with a commitment to serve a transcendent, moral God, they will certainly develop the ability and ambition as well. Regardless of their other abilities, they will find the drive to improve themselves and to make the world a better place.