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The portion for Bo in the FJMC Sefer Haftarah scroll, the travelling haftarah scroll that visits a different synagogue each week and contains all of the haftarot, was sponsored by Temple Israel, Sharon, MA.


FJMC Factoid: FJMC sent 20 mezuzot and several sets of tefillin to Bet-El in Madrid. We also obtained Spanish text books from Argentina to help them develop a curriculum for the school they wish to open. It will be the only talmud torah in Madrid.


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January 27, 2012 / 3 Shevat, 5772

Bo
Jeremiah 46:13-28

On our new website for our Bnai Mitzvah candidates here at the Synagogue, the page for Haftarah begins with the question, "Is it half my Torah portion?"

It's a reasonable question if you're twelve or thirteen: though I wonder how many of us adults, also, never ask ourselves what a Haftarah actually is.

The Hebrew comes from the root p-t-r. It's a rare root in Tanakh, where it means, variously, to separate, to remove or to set free. Given this, I wonder whether we would do well to think of the haftarot we read as being similar to the envoi of a ballad, or the punchline of a joke. In much the same way as the best anthem is always played last at a rock concert, the haftarah is intended to resound in our minds after we depart.

It follows that the final lines of the haftarah - the end of the ending, as it were - are particularly important. Perhaps this is why the tradition arose that we are forbidden to end a haftarah on a sour note. Instead, verses are repeated, or brought from other parts of the prophetic book, or even from other prophets altogether, so that we are left with a sweet taste in our mouths.

Which makes the ending of this week's haftarah decidedly ambiguous.

Suitably enough for the Torah portion in which the Exodus finally takes place, the first 25 verses or so comprise some rather pointed Egypt-bashing, not dissimilar to what we heard in the haftarah last week. Pharaoh is described as a braggart (personally, I prefer the translation, "windbag"); Egypt herself is portrayed as a fat cow being tormented by a mosquito, prior to being overrun by the Babylonians.

But there's - forgive the pun - a sting in the tail. Two stings, in fact. First, in verse 26, there is the assurance that God will, in the end, restore Egypt. This is followed by an address to Israel. A reassurance that their exile will end, is succeeded by the lines, viysartikha lamishpat/v'nakeh lo enakeka. This is hard to translate, but the underlying sense is reasonably clear: the people have been, or are to be corrected judiciously (i.e. in measure) but will not escape entirely unpunished. The words have an additional resonance, given that the final clause is a cut-and-paste from the end of the 13 attributes of God - the same phrase that the Rabbis conveniently edit for liturgical purposes.

God, it would seem, doesn't buy into the good guys/bad guys dynamic.

Quite a take-home from the Exodus, isn't it?

This week's Haftarah commentary was written by Rabbi Deborah Silver. Rabbi Silver is at Adat Ari El in the Valley Village area of Los Angeles. Rabbi Silver, a British-born former lawyer, was ordained in 2010 by the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies in Los Angeles. While there, she was the co-editor with Rabbi Bradley Shavit Artson, of the Ziegler Adult Learning Walking With... series.


New Publications

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.
You can purchase it a number of ways.
 
Intermarriage: Concepts & Strategies for Families and Synagogue Leaders
If family members and community leaders wish to become engaged in the process of Keruv they often need to ask, "Does Keruv have an ideology and theology? And if so what is it?" Then they need to learn how to respond to intermarriage from the perspective of both gender and religion. This publication reflects the most current thinking about intermarriage to date and attempts to provide family members and community leaders with the needed understanding to effectively work with intermarrieds or potential intermarrieds.
You can purchase it a number of ways:
It's time for Build-A-Pair
The best way to teach about tefillin!

HeneniThe "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.

World Wide Wrap is Sunday, February 3, 2013
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