Rabbi Thurgood’s Message

Categories: newsletter welcome,weekly message

Shalom Friends!

I hope that you are having a great week and looking forward to a Shabbat ahead filled with joy and celebration. You would think that after the intense time of Shavuot and all of the Yoms that things would quiet down – but thank God we have smachot and plenty happening at Morasha! A hearty Mazaltov to the Boyd and Shevil families as we celebrate David’s Aufruf and his and Jacqui’s upcoming wedding, Warren and Andrea Fialkov on the birth of their daughter Leah Hannah, Martin and Tarryn Skudicky on their wedding anniversary and our Morasha children who have finished every story in Nach! (More on that later). We wish a long life to Linda Saban, Hazel Scalabrino, David Pupkewitz and families on the Yahrtzeit of their mother. Wow!

One of the first things that you will notice upon entering the Weizmann hall this Shabbat is the Mezuzot – it has taken us a while, but with our reclaimed and rechecked Mezuzot from Arthur’s Road, we have put up on every doorway leading into the hall, and on the side rooms that we use. I did that this week with Herzlia Weizmann, particularly assisted by the Grade 6 Jewish Life and Learning Student Committee. As the Rambam teaches us, part of the purpose of the Mezuzah is to be reminded of our obligations to Hashem, and His promises to us, every time we enter a room. I also always tell the story that, to me, captures the essence of the Mezuzah: A man found himself stuck overnight in an unfamiliar town, and at Mincha Maariv in the Shul that evening asked if he could spend the night at someone’s home. A member of the local community graciously took him in and he enjoyed warm hospitality. The next day he was disappointed to find that he would have to stay in town another day and sheepishly approached his host to ask if he could stay with him for one more day. “I don’t see why not,” grinned his host, “I have been living here for years and the Owner of the house has not evicted me yet!”

My 2 minute Parsha for Sidrat Naso is called “Integrate Torah Through Action“ and you can find it here. This week I share the Sfat Emet’s explanation on the interplay of Torah and Mitzvot and the balance that we should strive for in the two.

Speaking of Torah, for several years now we have a children’s shiur for 10 minutes before the adult’s shiur. This was actually initiated by some of our children who felt that it was unfair that the adults had a special shiur every Shabbat and they did not – so after trying a number of different learning options, I settled upon stories of Nach – from the book of Yehoshua (Joshua) through the end of the Bible. I didn’t cover the Torah itself, since so many of our knowledgeable children are already familiar with those stories, but we have discussed the life and times of King David, Eliyahu HaNavi, Shimshon, Ruth, Daniel, Ezra and Nechemia – you name it. Hundreds of stories, and together we have told them all. We are celebrating with a Siyum party this Shabbat around that time as we go onto the next course of material that we are learning. This will be stories that I am making up myself “The Adventures of Mitzva Girl and Torah Boy” and the idea is that you have these two children who encounter a new Mitzva each week in a fun and exciting way. I am looking forward to hearing about their adventures!

Speaking of Mitzvot, Afrika Tikkun is running a special programme for Mandela Day – providing for 1220 children and young people whom they assist. There are three ways in which you can contribute:

  • Bringing non-perishable foods such as: canned food, pasta, rice, flour, samp, lentils, barley, tea, long life milk and sugar – to the Shul office before 15 July
  • Assist in packing these gifts at the Mfuleni centre on 17 July (in which case, please contact Ann Harris on 083 267 3762)
  • Drop off these packages for the recipients who are unable to collect, on 18 July (again, contact Ann)

A reminder that we are looking to purchase new Siddurim for Morasha, and I invite you to cast your vote for your most favourite – link in the announcements. If there’s a Siddur that I’ve left out that should be in the running, please let me know.

Speaking of Siddurim, Chabad of Cape Town is running a Tehillim project that I think is wonderful – they are printing a special run of Tehillim books with the express goal of every family having a beautifully printed, Hebrew-English (with easy-to-understand English) Tehillim. You can purchase a copy for R180 and can find out more at http://psalm4thatcapetown.co.za/

I was pleased to receive comprehensive feedback from the community participation sessions which were not only about the rebuilding of our Shul, but about rediscovering our identity as a community. One theme that came up many times was the importance of Torah Study. As you know, learning and teaching Torah is one of my great loves – my favourite part of my role as a Rabbi and in fact the reason I become a Rabbi in the first place. However, for the last couple of years I have found that although Shabbat shiurim are very well attended and are truly one of the great Torah learning events in Cape Town (and I mean that), shiurim in our community during the week receive a very poor attendance – rarely more than 5 people. But now that it has been reemphasised how important learning is to so many of us as a community I would like to revitalise the weekday shiurim and to that end, ask for your feedback regarding what, when and how you would like to learn and how I can help you towards that end. Either email me your thoughts or fill out this survey here: http://bit.ly/morashalearning Let’s put the Beit Midrash back in Morasha!

Finally, for the first time in a long time, the Thurgood family (junior) are going on holiday! The location is currently under wraps as we are keeping it a surprise for Shalva, but I will be away from 20 June and back on 4 July. Of course, I will arrange substitutions for the Shabbatot whilst I am away, and those will be communicated in the TGIS, and I will be available for emergencies, but will not otherwise be corresponding.

Aviva, Shalva, Tzuriya, Azriel and I wish you a Shabbat Shalom and Chag Sameach.

Rabbi Sam Thurgood