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Rabbi David Baum's Blog

01/27/2017 12:48:31 PM


Praying With Our Legs

One of my favorite teachings of the Talmud is found in a debate amongst the rabbis.  They asked themselves, which is greater, Torah study, or action in the world?  It was rigorous debate, and each side had valid arguments, but in the end study won, but it came with a condition - "Study is great, because it leads to action."  There can be no action without study, but study coupled with inaction is just as problematic.  Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel once wrote about the nature of Judaism - is it a religion based on study and thought, or based on action?  He said the following:  

A Jew is asked to take a leap of action rather than a leap of thought. He is asked to surpass his needs, to do more than he understands in order to understand more than he does. . . 

Rabbi Heschel is well known in the Jewish world for his contribution to Jewish thought through his many books, articles, and the many students he inspired through his years of teaching.  However, he might be more well known to the world through the actions he took, or more specifically, the steps he took with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in Selma, Alabama.  Upon his return, he famously said: 'For many of us the march from Selma to Montgomery was about protest and prayer.  Legs are not lips and walking is not kneeling.  And yet our legs uttered songs.  Even without words, our march was worship.  I felt my legs were praying.'  Learning about justice in the world was not enough for Rabbi Heschel; he had to bring that justice to the world through his actions.  

This week, we had wonderful study opportunities as we partnered with the Jewish Theological Seminary of America to bring in Dr. Jonathan Milgram.  As we moved on in the week, we started a mixture of the two acts:  study and action.  Turning study into action is a vital part of what it means to be a Jew - to live out our most core values and teachings.  Our mitzvot, commandments, are, after all, acts to be performed.  This week at Shaarei Kodesh, we focused on study leading to action.  On Tuesday evening, we

 held our first Sunshine Team meeting - a new team of people at Shaarei Kodesh that will focus on acts of loving kindness within the CSK community, including, bikkur holim/visiting the sick; visiting the home bound; cooking and delivering food for our community members who need help that week due to a sickness, death, or a simcha like the birth of a child; and more. 
Our next meeting will occur on Tuesday, January 24 at 6:00 pm.  We will begin with studying the origins of Bikkur Holim as a Mitzvah and then move on to prepare us for action as we learn the practicals of how to perform a sick visit.  The team is open to all, so please consider joining us for our next meeting!

The next day, we held our final Adult Bnai Mitzvah class.  

I am so proud of

our community members, Susan Berkowitz, Tracy Elias, and Susan and Louis Witonsky, for their hard work and dedication.  The process of that has led them up to leading parts of the Shabbat service this week, including read the Haftarah, began a year ago with our beloved teacher, Irv Pomeranz z'l.  Irv taught this group beginners Hebrew, and he continued to teach them how to bring their newfound knowledge of Hebrew to the community through their adult Bnai Mitzvah ceremony. Unfortunately, Irv passed just after Sukkot, but his presence has been with us at every class, and he will certainly be with us this this Shabbat as his students put their studies into action.  It was truly an honor teaching our adult bnai mitzvah class over the last couple of months.  Please join us this Shabbat to honor our adult Bnai Mitzvah students and mazal tov to the Berkowitz, Elias, and Witonsky families!

As we neared the end of the week, our congregation, including our Ruth and

 Lewis Davis Religious school, our Bnai Mitzvah families, and others joined Christians, Muslims, and Jews at Abraham's Tent, an event presented by the Boca Raton Interfaith Clergy Association (of which I am an active member).  Together, we lived out the mitzvah of Feeding the Hungry (which is part of our religious school curriculum) as we created nutritious meals for thousands of food insecure people in Haiti.  Thank you to our many congregants who took part in this special mitzvah opportunity!  

This week at Shaarei Kodesh, we brought the teachings of our tradition to life.  I look forward to our praying with our legs as we journey together on a path to holiness.  

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Baum

Thu, April 18 2019 13 Nisan 5779