|June 3, 2011 / Rosh Chodesh Sivan, 5771
I just wanted to give you a little heads up of what's to come. The response to our online Mishnah text study has been gratifying. Our process has been to ask a number of rabbis to write what they love to teach. In the weeks to come we will learn with Rabbi Ellen Wolnitz-Fields, Rabbi Adam Feldman, Rabbi David Fine, Rabbi Wayne Allen and Rabbi Robert Wolkoff. If your rabbi's would like to join this growing group of teachers ask them to contact me in advance to agree on topic and timeline.
My best for meaningful Shavout.
Rabbi Charles Simon
Author of "Building a Successful Volunteer Culture"
Jewish Lights Publishing
Chapter 3, Mishnaiot 1, 2 & 3
© Rabbi Menachem Creditor
One whose dead relative lies before him [in need of care and escorting] is exempt from the recital of the Shema' and from
the tefillah [the Amidah] and from tefillin and from all the mitzvot
laid down in the Torah. With regard to the bearers of the bier and
those who relieve them and those who relieve them again, whether in
front of the bier or behind the bier - those in front of the bier, if
they are still necessary, are exempt; but those behind the bier even
if still necessary, are not exempt. Both, however, are exempt from
saying the tefillah.
When they have buried the dead and returned from the
grave, if they have time to begin and finish the Shema' before forming
a row, they should begin, but if not they should not begin. As for
those who stand in the row, those on the inside row are exempt, but
those on the outside row are not exempt.
Women, slaves and minors are exempt from reciting the
Shema' and putting on tefillin, but are obligated to tefillah,
mezuzah, and birkat hamazon.
1) One of the reasons I was afraid of becoming a rabbi was dealing
with death, and funerals, and grieving. It has proven to truly be an
awesome task, one that humbles and honors, that is demanding and
rewarding. I don't wish death or goodbyes upon anyone, but am
fortunate when I am called to provide comfort and guidance. This
Mishnah is a comfort to me, because when a family emergency comes up,
I rarely have time to tend to everything waiting on my desk, much of
which involves competing mitzvah-work. But, according to Mishnah Aleph
even the Shema, a biblical mitzvah, takes a back seat to caring for
those who have died. But Mishnah Bet is crucial to continuing living
and working and emerging from the "death-moment." If I have time to
say the Shema and attend to the other parts of my rabbinate, then I
must - but only if I will be able to complete each task - the list of
"to do's" on my desk grows legitimately long if I am necessary
elsewhere. If I'm the "bearer of the bier" I'm exempt from other
mitzvot. But If I've done my work in tending to the funeral, or the
shiva house, or the myriad of details that accompany the Jewish
experience of loss, it's time to get back to work.
2) Of course, Mishnah Gimmel hits a passionate egalitarian Jew square
between the eyes. Much has been written regarding these questions,
especially in "The Ordination of Women as Rabbis," published by JTS.
The rationales presented by later commentators are fascinating in
their diversity, and instead of repeating them, I note how powerful it
is to read what once was the Jewish approach and to know that Modern
Judaism has grown and matured in its approach. The tension of a
textual tradition and an evolving sense of truth is serious and worthy
of continued attention.
This week's Mishnah lesson was written by
Rabbi Menachem Creditor
Rabbi Menachem Creditor is the spiritual leader of Congregation Netivot Shalom in Berkeley, CA. He is founder of ShefaNetwork.org: The Masorti/Conservative Movement Dreaming From Within, chair of Bay Area Masorti, international cochair of Rabbis for Women of the Wall, and author of TheTisch, an electronic commentary on Jewish Spirituality.
The opinions expressed in this Unraveller are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the FJMC.
FJMC International Convention 2011
Join us as Hazzan Alberto Mizrahi begins his teaching of "an American Nusach" at the FJMC's International Convention in Costa Mesa California. This is a chance to listen, to see and to talk to Hazzanim Alberto Mizrahi, Steve Stoehr, David Propis and Joanna Dulkin in the relaxed setting of the FJMC.
"I have been thinking about what a hazzan/cantor will mean to the Conservative synagogue of the future. It is my opinion we need to create an American Nusach for the American synagogue of the 21st century while at the same time maintaining the traditional ¶authentic” cantorial sound that we have inherited from our Eastern European Ashkenazic culture. The challenge is to maintain authenticity while introducing an accessible contemporary sound that is led by the hazzan but fully involves the congregation."
See 100 Voices with the stars in the room!
For five exciting days you will learn, meet new friends and greet long-time friends ... and take your learning back home to help your local Men's Club and Region.
Plan to bring your family, and combine the Convention with a vacation in Southern California! Just think about the fabulous beaches, fun amusement parks, famous tourist spots, and fantastic shopping that Southern California offers!
Register here for the FJMC International Convention 2011
Wednesday, July 13 to Sunday, July 17, 2011 • Orange County Hilton, Costa Mesa, California
I'm going to Disneyland®!
Plan on a post convention visit to Disneyland on Sunday afternoon, July 17. If you're taking a red-eye Sunday night or flying out on Monday, join us Sunday at the original Magic Kingdom. Special park admission available. We'll have some post convention fun, without any rug-rats to worry about. Convention price: 1 day, 1 park is only $68, 1 day park-hopper (Visit Disneyland® Park and Disney California Adventure™) only $88. Tickets are available only until July 13.