Two eventful weeks unfolded at the square. Shabbos parshas bamidbar was quiet and the family feel was enhanced. Zsolt who has been working for us throughout the week was able to join us, and we all enjoyed his company. We also had the pleasure of Micha Sofer, our scribe who in the early years of our shuls revival helped repair two of our Torahs.
The drasha was based on the traditional name of the fourth book of the Pentateuch, “sefer Pikudim”, “the book of counting” or as it is known in English, “Numbers” – based on the fact that a census is taken of the Jews in the first parsha of the book, and a listing of the numbers of Jews is repeated numerous times.
According to Rash”i, the foremost commentator of scripture, the count was for the sake of the Shechina (Divine presence) that was present. This seems to suggest that G-d needed to know how many people in order to be able to distribute the right intensity/quality of Divinity. The question being, “surely G-d knows”? Why then the need to count?
According to the Shem Mishmuel of Sochetchov the Hebrew word “pekudim” “counting” has another meaning. The root of Pekudim is PKD which is the root of the word “tafkid” – task, and thus when one commissions someone with a duty he is “mafkid”. Similarly the word to count “limnot” is also the word for “to appoint”.
On this note the counting of Jews in the desert was not merely a consensus, but rather the issuing out the mission that each individual was required to do. As Rash”i mentioned; prior to the shechinas descent, G-d “counted”, which according to this novel explanation of the Shem Mishmuel, “counting” means – commissioning, we see that in order for G-ds presence, we are given a mission. This mission is not a general mission for a nation, but a separate appointment to each individual, whereby with one mission unaccomplished, the task is not complete and a lack of Shchina for us all. But hey no pressure.
Interestingly enough the drasha in the following week was by a guest Rabbi from Israel, Rabbi Yarov, Yaniv, Yehuda (ach something like that), who asked why the need to repeat the sacrifice of all the Nesi’im (princes of the tribes) when the sacrifice was the same? To which he answered that although we all have the same target, we all have different means and paths to that target.
The two Shabbos’s were interrupted by Shavuois and as usual we had an all night learning session. When I say as usual, I don’t mean as usual on the first night of Shavuois, but rather as usual as in every night. Such is the studious nature of our holy community.
Classes were interesting and as they were delivered in Hungarian, I can only assume that they were true. The first two classes were delivered by our first two Cornel’s, since they were planning to betray us at nine thirty for Tikvah.
Their topics were “Occam’s raizor” in Judaism, a philosophical course seemingly not consistent with the deep faith orientation of Rav Nachman of Breslav, yet highly convincing and entertaining.
The other Cornel spoke about Mikva, Rav Nachman and G-d, soul and other lofty concept we may have come across in our years at the square.
I will leave it to you to figure out which Cornel gave which lecture.
The lectures were followed by Ma’ariv (evening prayers), kidush and the festival meal. The next lecture intentionally delivered during consumption, since the sounds of chewing is somehow less distracting than someone talking, for the presentation of the lecture. Perhaps eating is not seen as a competitor, alas, be that as it may, the next lecture/lectures was something of a duet with Borcsa and Edina about their journey into Judaism, which was witty, entertaining and very Hungarian. One of the beauties of personal life experiences is that it cannot be challenged and as such we all could enjoy the class without the need to argue.
Edina enjoyed herself so much that following her personal memoirs, she went solo with a talk on woman in the Talmud. Funny, no woman has ever come out of my Talmud at home, and it is hard to imagine where they would fit, especially when the pages are closed. The class was interesting, with a brief explanation as to what is the Talmud and dispersed teachings involving women. I think next year I will discuss, “men in the kitchen” to balance things out.
Mr. Horowitz gave a lecture on all the many common customs of Shavuois and why we do them. Customs such as cheese cake, flowers, and scrolls of Ruth were among the customs explained.
Following Mr. Horowitz came Meyers Gabor who spoke about teleportation, which dealt with the status of the person between his travels where he/she is neither here nor there. Is he/she still married while not here which leads to comparisons to the question of Elija the prophet and his marital status after his ascent into heaven.
Tobi spoke about the Zohar, its history and place in Jewish life. Moshe spoke about the halachik possibility of using microphones, telephones and other such devices for reading the torah. Tzvi spoke about procrastination and Judaism’s avoidance thereof.
Avi mentioned the uniqueness of Shavuot in that there is nothing specific to Shavuot in its laws except in custom. The talk centered on the uniqueness of Shavuot as the time where we received all the laws of the Torah.
I was the last to speak, and although for all practical purposes I could have spoken about the reason for cheese being green on the moon, I spoke about rabbinical ordination in Jewish history.
The second Shabbat was special in that it was Marci’s birthday and he walked all the way from Obuda in order to celebrate with us. As such it was a festive shabbos with many guests, some of whom came for Marci’s birthday, who did a great job as Chazan for Shachris.