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May 20, 2011 / 17 Iyar, 5771
Mishna Berachot
Selected Commentary
Rabbi Menachem Creditor

Introduction To Mishna Berachot

From what time may one recite the Shema' in the evening? From the time that the priests enter [their houses] in order to eat their terumah until the end of the first watch.
These are the words of R. Eliezer.
The sages say: Until midnight.
R. Gamaliel says: Until the dawn comes up. Once it happened that his sons came home [late] from a wedding feast and they said to him: We have not yet recited the [evening] Shema'.
He said to them: If the dawn has not yet come up you are still bound to recite. And not in respect to this alone did they so decide, but wherever the sages say until midnight', the precept may be performed until the dawn comes up.
The precept of burning the fat and the [sacrificial] pieces, too, may be performed till the dawn comes up. Similarly, all [the offerings] that are to be eaten within one day may lawfully be consumed till the coming up of the dawn. Why then did the sages say 'until midnight'?
In order to keep a person far from transgression.

  1. It is so powerful to me that the mishnah is concerned with fulfilling an obligation. Though that might seem like common sense, our world has shifted into a place where obligation is not the way most of us see our religious lives. In fact, much of my teaching is about "making Jewish choices." What would the world look like if we could create a system of expectations "in order to keep a person far from sin"?
  2. The language of the Mishnah, (convoluted even in English!), is not easy to understand. So much knowledge is necessary to begin the approach - how can a beginner find comfort without a "live" teacher? Perhaps that is the finest message Judaism can teach - that learning is a "dialogical" tradition - that conversation is learning -that connections are the heart of Torah.


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

mizrahiJoin 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 theConvention 2011 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

disneyI'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.

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