Carnegie Shul Chatter – November 30, 2012

Candle Lighting time on November 30 is 4:37.

Friday Evening Service

Our initial Friday evening service is just one week away on December 7.  The service, which will begin at 7:45, will be a family oriented service with prayers and singing in both Hebrew and English.  An Oneg sponsored by Ellen and Mike Roteman will follow.  Plan to attend with your entire family.  It’s the day before Chanukah and a great way to start the celebration.


The parshah this shabbos is Vayishlach, a parshah that could just as easily  be called “Jacob’s tsuris.” (I hate using Yiddish words since I know very little of the language.  My parents used it when they wanted something to remain a secret from the kids, but tsuris is the perfect word to describe what happens to Jacob in this parshah.)

First Jacob, finally free from his servitude to Laban, starts out to return to the Holy Land, and sends messengers to Esau in hopes of reconciling with his brother, but the messengers come back and tell Jacob that Esau is coming to greet Jacob accompanied by an army of 400 men.  Jacob, fearful that his entire family will be annihilated, splits them into two camps so that one will survive if the other is defeated in battle.  Jacob prays, sends Esau elaborate gifts of cattle and sheep, then crosses a river alone at night, only to be confronted by a man, who is in reality Esau’s archangel.  They wrestle through the night, and though neither can totally vanquish the other, Jacob is injured, dislocating his hip and sciatic nerve.  When the angel wants to leave, Esau will not let him go until the angel blesses Jacob and tells him his name will be changed to Israel, which means “he who prevails over the divine.”

Jacob and Esau then meet, embrace, and go their own separate ways, with Jacob buying land near Shechem, where Jacob encounters more tsuris.  This time the crown prince of Shechem, also named Shechem, rapes Jacobs daughter,  Dinah, and holds her as a hostage when she leaves Jacob’s camp and goes alone into the city of Shechem.

Jacob is informed that Shechem wants to marry Dinah, and Jacob’s sons, Simon and Levi, agree to the marriage if all of the men in Shechem agree to circumcise themselves.  On the third day after their  circumcisions, Simon and Levi go to Shechem, kill all of the men, and rescue their sister.

Jacob fears that the neighboring Canaanites will seek retribution for the killing of the Shechem men, and travels on to Canaan where, in Beth-El, God appears to him, blesses him, and changes his name to Israel.

Jacob and his family then continue on to Hebron, but Jacob is faced with still more tsuris.  Rachel dies while giving birth to her second son, Benjamin, and Jacob’s oldest son, Reuben, interferes with his father’s marital life.

Finally, Jacob arrives in Hebron. Subsequently, Isaac dies at age 180 and is buried by both Jacob and Esau.

The annual Mitzvah Day, sponsored by the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh, is December 25.  Mitzvah Day is an annual hands-on Jewish community volunteer event taking place on Christmas Day. Mitzvah Day allows members of the Jewish community to give back to the Pittsburgh community, and it enables the professional staffs and regular volunteers of many non-profit agencies to enjoy the holiday with their families and know that their agencies and clients are being cared for.

Mitzvah Day is family-friendly with volunteers participating in a wide variety of activities, including packing backpacks to be distributed to at-risk children, serving meals to the homeless at Rainbow Kitchen and caring for animals at the Human Society, to name just a few.

Contact Jenny Jones at 412.992.5209 to volunteer.

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