From the Desk - Shabbat and Yom Kippur
Shalom Friends! It's been a truly wonderful holiday period here at Beth Ora. Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur were so magnificent. The services were so special because of the hard work of a lot of people - whether through leading the services, behind the scenes organization, running of services, security, children's programming, putting together the Yizkor booklet and sponsoring refreshments. Our community is enriched by the participation of each of its members and guests and we thank all of you for joining us for these auspicious services. On Sunday, we held a service at our cemetery in memory of those who perished in the Shoah. Keeping the memory of the six million alive is one of the important responsibilities of the current Jewish generation. Yasher koach to Dora Edelstein and her committee for organizing such a meaningful event. On Sunday, tragedy hit the Jewish People with the murder of Ari Fuld by a Palestinian terrorist. I didn’t know Ari though I recognized his name from the work he has done in teaching about and defending the State of Israel. It soon became clear on Facebook that he and I shared many friends. A few hours after his murder, tens (perhaps hundreds) of locals congregated in the place where he was killed to share their sadness and to sing songs of prayer. The funeral on Sunday night was attended by thousands of people, including a number of my friends. Prior to the heartbreaking eulogies, thousands of people stood singing songs of yearning for a better world; for a world of love and holiness and end to the evil and darkness which have once again overwhelmed us during this intense period of the High Holy Days. May Hashem bring comfort to Ari’s parents, his wife Miriam and their four children, to his whole family and to all the Jewish People. May they and we know no more sorrow. Sukkot at Beth Ora In addition to all our festival services (including kids services and activities), we are excited to present the following Beth Ora events:
Sukkot Craft Morning, Sunday September 23rd, 10-11:30 AM
Sukkah Competition - email me for details at firstname.lastname@example.org
Kids' Sukkah hop - Monday September 24th, 3:00 PM
Adults' Sukkah hop - Monday October 1st, 3:00 PM
Simchat Torah dinner - Monday October 1st, 8:00 PM
We invite you to take advantage of these great programs which will bring much joy to our Sukkot celebrations at Beth Ora. If anyone would like to purchase a lulav and etrog at a good price, please contact me ASAP on 514-714-6559. For a short, clear guide for how to shake the lulav and etrog, here's an explanation from someone you know!
And here is a little guidance for your observance of Sukkot: Building the Sukkah The Sukkah must be built under the sky, with nothing intervening between the schach and the sky. One must be careful not to build the Sukkah under a roof or a tree. The Sukkah The walls do not need to touch the ground but they must not be raised more than 24cm above it. The Schach According to one opinion the best schach is cut branches of trees. One should not use branches whose leaves tend to shrivel or branches which have leaves which are likely to fall off into the Sukkah. One should also not use those branches that have an unpleasant smell. If one uses planks of wood for the schach, one should ensure that they are not wider than 8 cm. This law is in order to ensure that the sukkah is like a temporary dwelling. The laws concerning mattering and wickerwork are complex so one should not use these materials for schach unless they have a hechsher. One must use sufficient schach in order to cover the majority of the area of the roof. It is preferable that the schach is not so dense that even rain could not penetrate. Decorating the Sukkah In honour of the mitzvah and because the Sukkah is to be like your home, it is proper to decorate the Sukkah. Sitting in the Sukkah Shabbat and Yom Tov candles should be lit in the Sukkah. If there is a concern that they may be extinguished by the wind or if there is a fire risk, they should be lit in the house. In this case, they should be placed near a window that faces the Sukkah if this is possible. The Bracha for the Sukkah There is a special bracha to be recited on eating in the Sukkah – asher kidshanu bemitzvotav vetzivanu leishev basukkah. This bracha is usually recited only when eating an amount of bread exceeding the size of a large egg. One should also say it if he is eating a meal of food containing barley, rye, oats, wheat or spelts. Similarly, if he is having something with these ingredients at a Kiddush, he should say the bracha. The Hadass The Hadass is a twig from the myrtle tree and is one of the four species. In order to keep them fresh during Sukkot, it is advisable to stand them in a small amount of water or keep them in an airtight bad in a cool place. Many keep them in the fridge in a sealed bag with a few drops of water. Taking the Species The lulav, myrtle and willow should first be picked up with the right hand with their tips pointing up and the spine of the lulav facing the person. Then, the etrog should be picked up with the left hand with the upper tip pointing down. A left handed person should take the species in the opposite manner. After the bracha and before the shaking of the species, the etrog should be turned the right way up. The shaking of the species in all directions is the expression of our belief that all existence depends on G-d. Wishing you all Shabbat Shalom and Chag Sameach, Rabbi Anthony and Carly Knopf Dovid, Rachelli, Yehuda and Avrami
What’s the Deal with… Shabbat and Yom Kippur? Unlike last year, Yom Kippur this year does not fall on Shabbat. Nevertheless, Leah Sholzberg’s pupils at HFS asked her an interesting question that I want to address. What is more important: Shabbat or Yom Kippur? This may all hinge on what you mean by ‘more important.’ It could be that Shabbat is more significant in one respect and Yom Kippur is more significant in another. One of the most important values in Judaism (arguably the core value) is holiness. Holiness means the presence of G-d experienced in this world. The rabbis explain that Shabbat is holier than Yom Kippur. As a general rule, the more divisions made in the morning Torah reading, the holier the day. On Shabbat, we split the morning Torah reading into seven sections (or, in Beth Ora, into 107 sections – but that’s a different story…). On Yom Kippur, we only split the reading into six sections. I think this can be understood in two ways. Firstly, Shabbat is more regular than Yom Kippur. While this might make Yom Kippur seem more special, Judaism values regularity. When we do something again and again on a regular basis, it has a greater impact on us and a greater impact on the world. Yom Kippur makes a big difference to our lives but the spiritual value of Shabbat is greater because it’s more regular. Secondly, Judaism believes in engaging in this world activities. We all know that food and drink are an important part of Jewish life! Judaism doesn’t prescribe pleasure. Rather, we believe that we can uplift our mundane activities and make them holy by expressing higher values through what otherwise would be animalistic behavior. This is the idea of Shabbat. There is a special mitzvah to enjoy oneself and to do pleasurable things. On Yom Kippur, we abstain from pleasurable activities. That’s fine for one day but it doesn’t represent the ideal of Judaism. At the same time, Yom Kippur does offer us unique opportunities for spiritual elevation. Although our general way is to enjoy food and drink, the once a year phenomenon of Yom Kippur has a special energy which can help us to put right the things we have done wrong in the course of the year and re-establish a close relationship with G-d.