Thanks to everyone who made last Shabbat morning such a wonderful occasion with a strong minyan, and to Lionel and Melanie Dean for the lovely kiddush. We wish all our Reading JSoc friends good luck on their exams and mazal tov if they are graduating.
To clarify the current confusion, the Berkshire Community Cheder is continuing classes without interruption or change in personnel. All classes have relocated to the Rabbi’s house. If you would like your child to join the cheder this Autumn, please contact the head teacher, Rebbetzin Shira.
KOSHER FOOD NEWS
· We are delighted to announce that Kosher Deli and Carmelli Bakery will be delivering food to Reading on Monday 15 June. This will hopefully be a regular event (every month or so). To have your order included, please email or phone Rebbetzin Shira. Pickup will be from the Rabbi’s house.
· As always, you can book your biweekly justkosher.co.uk order directly with them. The next Just Kosher delivery is Sunday 21 June.
We wish Avril Moyal and her family strength at this difficult time.
Please keep us informed so that we can keep this list up to date.
Berkshire Jewish Women: Celebrate Rosh Chodesh Tammuz together. Wednesday 16 June, 8pm at the home of Judi Lyons. ‘Which gods do you believe in?’ Contact Shira for more information.
Rebbetzin Shira’s Friday Night Dinners will resume on Friday 19 June. Service at the Rabbi’s house 7:15pm followed by dinner.
Please book your place directly with Rebbetzin Shira by contacting Shira or ringing or texting 07931 747 316.
Adults £15 Students/low income £7.50. Children free.
Space is limited so book early and by 12 June.
Please note that the payment instructions used for previous dinners no longer apply as Rebbetzin Shira no longer works for RHC.
Truth Twisters (on Shelach Lecha)
There are several instances in the Torah which refer to lashon hara or the evil tongue. The whole parasha of Metzorah deals with the issue. Last week we saw an instance of Miriam speaking ill of Moses “because he had taken a dark-skinned lady”. She is struck with leprosy, and Moses prays for her recovery in a five-word prayer which is perhaps the shortest yet most poignant there is.
This week we see the spies who are sent into the land of Israel laid before us. They are sent to spy out the land, its features agriculture economy and inhabitants. Yet although there are many reasons why they should not be scared to enter the land at this stage, they bring back what the Torah calls a malignant account. Yehoshua bin Nun and Kaleb ben Yefune are the only ones who say that the nation should proceed according to plan.
What was the malignant account? At first sight the words of the ten spies appear reasonable. There are indeed very strong and tall people. We would appear tiny next to them. The land is full of good things but there are strong warriors there. They live in great walled cities. This is a factual account.
It is remarkable that most people who wish to destroy a person’s reputation seek to do it by using facts. They twist the facts to suit their own case. As Kipling says in his poem If,
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken; Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Misusing facts is the best way to destroy a good case. Twisting facts to serve your own purpose is the easiest way to ensure that the discussion is not on the facts but on the interpretation.
The ten spies are asked to see how confident the inhabitants of Canaan are. If they live in walled cities then they must be scared. If they live in open habitations then they must be secure. But the account given by the ten uses the walls to say that these people are strong and a hard nut to crack. They use the facts to scare their audience.
It is a sad fact that when a group of leaders such as the ten spies put out a particular line, most of us will be happy to accept what they present as authoritative. Never mind analysing the faults, the problems with the argument. If it’s good enough for the ten spies, say the Children of Israel, then it’s good enough for us. After all we chose them and set them above us. The Jewish people abdicate their responsibility to investigate and choose in an informed way. They have already made up their mind to accept the decision of the majority even if that is wrong.
This is why the Jewish People were condemned to wander for another thirty-eight years in the wilderness. The servile nature of people who refused to analyse the decisions of leadership, however good that leadership may be, meant that they still had too much Egypt in them. Because of this God decided to let that generation die out so that there would be no more herd mentality when it came to analysing the serious decisions which would be necessary once they entered the promised land.