Issue #4 | 18/10/2018

By the Grace of G-d
Newtown Shul is the only synagogue in Sydney’s Inner West.  Newtown Shul’s activities are possible because of your kind generosity and we thank you for it.

Please consider becoming a member.

Should you wish to donate to Newtown Shul, you can always do so using the bank account details below. Please make sure to send an email to newtown@shul.org.au with a copy of the transaction confirmation.

Account Name: Newtown Synagogue INC, BSB: 032036,
Account No: 960034
Parshah in a Nutshell

Parshas Lech-Lecha

Courtesy of Chabad.org

G‑d speaks to Abram, commanding him, “Go from your land, from your birthplace and from your father’s house, to the land which I will show you.” There, G‑d says, he will be made into a great nation. Abram and his wife Sarai – accompanied by his nephew Lot – journey to the land of Canaan, where Abram builds an altar and continues to spread the message of a one G‑d.

A famine forces the first Jew to depart for Egypt, where beautiful Sarai is taken to Pharaoh’s palace; Abram escapes death because they present themselves as brother and sister. A plague prevents the Egyptian king from touching her and convinces him to return her to Abram and to compensate the brother-revealed-as-husband with gold, silver and cattle.

Back in the land of Canaan, Lot separates from Abram and settles in the evil city of Sodom, where he falls captive when the mighty armies of Chedorlaomer and his three allies conquer the five cities of the Sodom Valley. Abram sets out with a small band to rescue his nephew, defeats the four kings, and is blessed by Malki-Zedek the king of Salem (Jerusalem).

G‑d seals the Covenant Between the Parts with Abram, in which the exile and persecution (galut) of the people of Israel is foretold, and the Holy Land is bequeathed to them as their eternal heritage.

Still childless ten years after their arrival in the Land, Sarai tells Abram to marry her maidservant Hagar. Hagar conceives, becomes insolent toward her mistress, and then flees when Sarai treats her harshly; an angel convinces her to return and tells her that her son will father a populous nation. Ishmael is born in Abram’s eighty-sixth year.

Thirteen years later, G‑d changes Abram’s name to Abraham (“father of multitudes”), and Sarai’s to Sarah (“princess”) and promises that a son will be born to them; from this child, whom they should call Isaac (“will laugh”), will stem the great nation with which G‑d will establish His special bond. Abraham is commanded to circumcise himself and his descendants as a “sign of the covenant between Me and you.” Abraham immediately complies, circumcising himself and all the males of his household.

Special Announcement

A big Mazel Tov to Aston Kwok & Godele Rayment on their engagement this week!!!

 

Newtown Shul Weekly Friday Night Dinner

The Shabbat Dinner is the traditional focal point of every Jew’s week. We at Newtown Shul, extend a warm welcome to all people to join us for a traditional Friday Night Dinner.

The Shabbat Dinner is held in the hall beside the Synagogue immediately after the 6:30pm Shabbat service.

The Shabbat Dinner is a joint project of Newtown Synagogue and Young Adult Chabad and operates by virtue of the generosity of donors and volunteers.

All of the food served at the dinner is prepared ‘by the people for the people’ with love.

Weekly Insight

Our Lot in LIfe

By Chaya Shuchat (Courtesy of Chabad.org)

It seems like the ultimate codependent relationship.

In this week’s Torah portion we are introduced to a shadowy character named Lot, Abraham’s nephew. Through his relationship with Abraham, Lot grows wealthy and powerful, but that’s what starts the rift between them. Abraham is always careful to muzzle his cattle when passing through the fields of others. Lot’s shepherds let his animals graze wherever they please. Their argument is that G‑d has promised to give the land of Canaan to Abraham, and Abraham has no children, so it will all go to Lot. Therefore, they feel they are justified in letting Lot’s animals loose in anyone’s field.

To Abraham, this is utterly unacceptable. It seems like the ultimate codependent relationship. Although G‑d has promised the land to his descendants, he has not yet taken possession and thus has no rights to his neighbours’ fields. In any case, Lot is not the ultimate heir. To make matters worse, Lot resembles Abraham physically, so his behaviour reflects negatively on Abraham as well. Finally, Abraham issues an ultimatum: “Please, let us go our separate ways. If you go to the left, I will go to the right. If you go to the right, I will go to the left.”

For Lot, this should have been an opportunity for self-reflection—to improve his ways and not lose his relationship with his revered Uncle Abraham. Instead, Lot agrees to part and sets up house among the most depraved people then, in existence—the residents of Sodom.

Not long afterwards, four strong kings pick a battle with five weak kings, including the king of Sodom, and subdue the population. After 12 years of subjugation, the five kings rebel. War breaks out, and Lot is taken prisoner. When Abraham hears the news, he immediately swings into action and personally goes into battle to rescue Lot.

At this point, does Lot gratefully, meekly return to Abraham’s court? He does not. He continues living with the corrupt Sodomites and even becomes a leader among them.

Eventually, matters come to a head, and the evil of Sodom reaches the heavens. G‑d comes to a verdict: The city of Sodom must be destroyed. G‑d shares the news with his trusted servant Abraham, who proceeds to pray on behalf of the people of Sodom. He is unable to find a quorum of righteous people in whose merit the city should be saved. But Lot, at least, is spared the calamity.

When the angels appear to rescue Lot, though, he is none too eager to join them. The angels drag him away, and he escapes with his life only moments before the city is destroyed.

The final straw is when Lot’s daughters awaken to the destruction around them and assume that they are the only ones left. They get their father drunk and become pregnant by him. News soon spreads of Lot’s incestuous relationship with his daughters, and Abraham is forced to move away in shame.

The common thread in this saga is that Abraham is repeatedly disappointed and humiliated by the behaviour of his nephew, yet he bails him out time and again. The angels drag him away

Abraham was a leader—a highly motivational person—and it must have pained him greatly not to be able to exert more influence on his nephew. But Lot was his own person who made his own decisions. Why did Abraham not simply let him live with the consequences? Why did Abraham not make a clean break from Lot? Why did he keep swooping in to save Lot from himself? Was it classic codependency, or was there another dynamic at play?

Perhaps Abraham saw potential in Lot and kept trying to bring it to the fore.

Chassidic teachings explain that Lot represents the part of the mind that is uncouth, unrefined. It’s the part that behaves unpredictably, sometimes shamefully; the part that gets us into scrapes time and again; the part that can drag us to the most desolate, degraded places—our personal Sodom. We try to distance ourselves, but can never quite escape from our Lot. And perhaps, on some level, we don’t want to.

And this is something that Abraham bequeathed to us, his descendants: We will never give up on our Lot, whether it’s a wayward child, an annoying neighbor—or ourselves. We don’t give up because even the most unrefined and embarrassing person has potential waiting to be discovered.

Lot’s two daughters produced two sons, who grew into two mighty nations, Moab and Ammon. From Moab descended Ruth, the famous convert who became the great-grandmother of King David. From Ammon descended Naamah, wife of King Solomon, and mother of his firstborn son and heir, Rehoboam. Thus, the lineage of the dynasty of David, and by extension Moshiach, comes through Lot.

Abraham foresaw that Lot would be a forebear of King David and Moshiach. On the verse in Psalms, “I have found my servant David,” the Midrash comments, “Where did He find him? In Sodom!”

The legacy of Lot is that no circumstance in life is so low or so depraved that no good can come from it. Abraham’s rescue of Lot empowers us to rescue ourselves and each other from the pits of Sodom—as many times as it takes—until we’ve refined our Lot to the utmost, and the world is finally ready for Moshiach.

Shabbos Chuckle

While reading a newspaper, Moishe came across an article about a beautiful actress and model who married a boxer who was noted for his IQ.

“I’ll never understand,” he said to his wife, “why the biggest shlimazels get the most attractive wives.”

His wife replied, “Why, thank you, dear.”

Kristallnacht Commemoration

   October 18th, 2018
Previous Newsletter View Archive Next Newsletter