|September 7, 2012 / 20 Elul, 5772
Parshat Ki Tavo
Curiously, the prophet Isaiah does not foretell the end of violence as part of the glory of the era of Divine deliverance. Rather, he speaks only of the end of the sounds of violence. To cite the text: "Violence shall no more be heard in your land" (Isaiah 60:18). In effect, the second reduces to the first. If the sounds of violence are no longer heard, it is because violence no longer occurs. Moreover, the second, and parallel part of the same verse predicts the end of destruction, implying that the first part must refer to the end of violence. But it is strange locution nonetheless. If, however, we take into account our sense of hearing – to which the prophet was especially attuned – reference to the “sounds of violence” make perfect sense.
There was a time when my children were young that a winter vacation trip to Orlando was de rigueur. All such trips must include a visit to Disneyworld and Universal Studios. It was at Universal that I learned to appreciate the intricacies of filmmaking. Though my children were much more interested in thrill rides, the stunt shows, and the animal stars, I was fascinated by what is called "post-production." That’s when editing, visual effects, and computer-generated images are all applied to the raw film. It is also the time when music and sound effects are added. I learned that what makes scary movies scary is not what you see, but what you hear. A series of single frames of a knife in a hand and water running from a showerhead does little to excite the viewer. But the added sounds of repetitive, screeching violins and a sudden scream will deter a generation of moviegoers from showering (or at least checking to see there are no killers lurking). Sound makes all the difference.
Anyone can test the power of sound. Select any violent movie that is shown on television and keep the set on "mute." Without hearing the gunshots or explosions or the human reaction to them, it all seems surreal. The prophet Isaiah did not know about films. But he did know about our sense of hearing. Violence disturbs us when it is heard, not just seen. Hence, his utopian vision speaks of a time when violence shall no more be heard.
The end of violence remains our hope. It is a prophecy that has yet to be fulfilled. As we approach the Days of Awe, it is as important for us to work towards the end of violence as it is to pray to God to make it so.
This week's Haftarah commentary was written by
Rabbi Wayne Allen, Ph.D. Rabbi Allen has served as a congregational rabbi for 35 years, taking on postings in New York City, Los Angeles, and Toronto. He is currently serving as the Provost of the Canadian Yeshiva and Rabbinical School. He is the author of Perspectives on Jewish Law and Contemporary Issues, Schechter Institute of Jewish Studies, Israel, e-mail: Books@schechter.ac.il.
Visit Rabbi Allen's website for more commentaries and information: rabbiwayneallen.ca
Rabbi Allen is an editorial board member, The Unraveller.
The Canadian Yeshiva and Rabbinical School, a partner in the Toronto School of Theology and the University of Toronto, offers exceptional courses for adults as part of its continuing education program. Operating under the principle of "serious teachers for serious students," the Canadian Yeshiva is committed to expanding its offerings on campus and across the Greater Toronto Area. Classes are co-educational and open to adults of all ages. Faculty members cross denominational boundaries: all dedicated to teaching Torah guided by the highest academic standards. For further information, please consult the website: www.cdnyeshiva.org/
Leadership - Innovation - Community
|Understanding the Haftarot:|
An Everyperson's Guide
In this stimulating and unusual book Rabbi Charles Simon, Executive Director of FJMC, provides the reader with the context to understand how the haftarot were organized, why they might have been selected and suggests reasons for finding meaning and value.
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|It's time for Build-A-Pair
The best way to teach about tefillin!
The "Build a Pair" Program is a comprehensive and fun learning program to introduce 5th, 6th or 7th graders to the joy and mitzvah of Tefillin in Jewish life.
Multiple components interplay to explore the religious significance, the construction of, and the practice of "laying" Tefillin.
A comprehensive education program with videos helps the religious school teach students the meaning of Tefillin in Jewish life and practice.
Students practice writing their Hebrew/Jewish names and the SHEMA (first line) to insert into pre-made wooden Tefillin boxes.
Students decorate the boxes in any creative way they wish, allowing for personal expression.
Students either compete or cooperate in writing a "wRAP" song to sing at a Big Event.
The Big Event can be the World Wide Wrap (WWW), sponsored by the Federation of Jewish Men's Clubs (FJMC), held annually on the morning of Super Bowl Sunday. The WWW program is designed to introduce and re-introduce Jewish men [and women] to the significance of "laying" Tefillin.
The "Build a Pair" student program attracts the parents to see their children in their model Tefillin sing the "wRap" songs, allowing two generations (or more!) to join in the mitzvah together, and to let the students' sing their "wRAP" song for an appreciative audience.
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