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From the Desk - Staring at Rainbows


Shalom Friends! Shabbos Project There is so much to report on in Congregation Beth Ora but, before I do, let me remind you of the Shabbos Project in which we are appealing to everyone to keep one Shabbat – on October 27th-28th. I have some booklets with lots of great material on how to keep Shabbat properly and meaningfully, with guidance for things like Kiddush, meals and Havdallah. If you would like one, please let me know at rabbiknopf@bethora.org. Looking Back What a wonderful Yom Tov period we all enjoyed. Let's look back with joy and pride at the great things that happened during this festive period:

  • Wonderful services: Rabbi Heshy Benshimon did a superb job in leading us through the services (as well as blowing the shofar). He was ably assisted by his brother, Levi.

  • Thanks to our volunteers: The smooth running of our services is only possible because of the hard word of those who organise the aliyot, oversee the children's program and stand on guard at security. Thank you!

  • Sukkot Programs: This year saw a fantastic kid's sukkah hop. In addition, we ran our Sukkah competition for a second year running and well done to all who entered. First prize goes to Shimon and Guila Zrihan (and family). Second prize goes to Michael and Debbie Smith. And third prize to the Hetzronis! This was also the first year for our adult Sukkah hop. Thank you to all the hosts and organizers!

  • Simchat Torah: The joy in the community was palpable as we danced, sang, visited Petach Tikvah and honored our chatanim and Eshet Chayil. A big thank you to Jackie Harroch and Shimon Zrihan for organizing the wonderful Simchat Torah dinner.

And Going Forward There are so many things happening at Beth Ora in the coming weeks. Here are just a few of the highlights:

  • Counselling Discussion: After a great first session, Carol Liverman of Ometz will facilitate a discussion on helping fellow community members. Tuesday 24th October, 8:00 PM.

  • Supper and story for young families: 6-12 year olds and their families are invited hear a story in the sanctuary, followed by eating hot dogs! Sunday, November 5th, 5:00 PM.

  • Shul for Dummies: Everything you ever wanted to know. Popular program returns on November 1st and 8th at 7:30 pm

We hope you enjoy and are inspired by all the opportunities and activities offered at Beth Ora. And to top it all off, we have a Bar Mitzvah this Shabbat! Mazel tov to Adam Purcell and his family! Wishing you and your families a peaceful and beautiful Shabbat. Rabbi Anthony and Carly Knopf Dovid, Rachelli, Yehuda and Avrami

What's the Deal With... Staring at a Rainbow?

The rainbow features in this week's Torah reading. Parness (Joseph) Bitton asked the question: is there a problem with looking at a rainbow? The Talmud says that, if someone looks at a rainbow, he is showing that he is flippant about the honor of his Creator. The Talmud adds that, if he looks at the rainbow, his vision will dim. So, first of all, it's understood that we're not simply talking about looking at a rainbow. There is actually a blessing to say on seeing a rainbow and the blessing can only be said once you've seen it. In fact, one important medieval authority, Rabbi Menachem Meiri, says that there is no problem with physically looking at the rainbow. The Talmud's intention is actually to prohibit delving into the mysteries of the passage dealing with the rainbow in this week's parsha. Nevertheless, the major code of Jewish Law, known as the Shulchan Aruch, rules that one mustn't gaze at the rainbow for an extended period of time. Two questions remain: Why is staring at a rainbow considered disrespectful to the honor of G-d? Tosafot Rid, one of the Talmudic commentators, explains that, just as the colors of the rainbow are indiscernible and one cannot tell where one color ends and another begins, so too we can't know G-d. We symbolize our ignorance of G-d by refraining from gazing at the rainbow. And what's all this about the dimming of eyesight?? Rabbi Joseph B Soloveitchik (one of the great rabbis of late 20th century) explains that the sages mean that one who cannot see the glory of Hashem in the rainbow has 'dim eyesight'. In other words, if one cannot see traces of the Divine glory in the beauty and splendor of the rainbow, one is already considered blind as one doesn't know what one is seeing.


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2600 Rue Badeaux, Saint-Laurent, QC H4M 1M5, Canada

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