3/4 June 2022, 4/5 Sivan 5782

This week’s Torah portion and Haftarah possibility share the common denominator of asceticism-Samson is a nazarite that this week’s Parashat Naso talks of. The Nazir (male or female) didn’t cut their hair and abstained from strong drink and if they wanted to give up their vow of abstinence it was quite an ordeal. We love the story of Samson and his hair and Delilah of course. But we pride ourselves, interestingly, on not prioritising or encouraging asceticism in our tradition. It was Maimonides in 12th century Spain/Egypt who insisted;

“Aren’t the Torah’s restrictions sufficient for you that you have to impose on yourself additional restrictions?” Mishnah Torah Hilchot Dei-ot 3:1)

In a world where [religious] extremism, literalism and all kinds of fantasia is rising, we can be reminded here of a deep and abiding appreciation for moderation.

I find this playing. And snuck into this portion next to the rules for the ascetic Nazirite is the priestly blessing-the one that hopes for such general love and ease.

May God bless you and look after you, May God shine God’s face towards and be very gracious to you and May God turn to you and give you peace…

To me this is the blessing par excellence that captures so much.

As we finish the counting of the Omer this week-49 days-7 weeks from Pesach to Shavuot we hope to welcome you to our first in person, in house celebration for three years. Eating together, singing and of course judging cheese cake it feels a modest and important moment for us all-especially those of us here over the Jubilee weekend.

Our theme this year from the Book of Ecclesiastes – Of the Making of Books there is no end ….How Bible and indeed all literature has informed our souls. We will be hearing from our own members about music and writings that have touched their souls as well as our own modern day Ruths and the learning they will share. We welcome Rabbi Rene Pfertzel and KLS for our erev service as well as Rabbi James Baaden for an edible jaunt through the seven species…it will be fun and not ascetic at all!

Shabbat Shalom & Chag Shavuot Sameach
Rabbi Rebecca